A Little Icelandic Flora

A boulder covered in various coloured lichens. A variety of lichens crowding onto a stone in north-west Iceland. As long as there is no pollution, they can colonise habitats that flowering plants cannot endure Wooded valley with scruby trees by stream. This picture shows one of Iceland's very rare natural woods. The birch trees can reach over a metre in this sheltered valley on the south coast. Generally in Iceland, if trees grow at all, it is horizontally The muted self-effacing world of mosses, lichens and miniature flowers provide Iceland with a surprisingly rich flora. The country is new, having risen from the sea about 17 million years ago, and still mostly consists of volcanic desert - 11% of which is covered by glaciers. The volcanic ash is very slowly colonised by mosses, fungi, algae, lichens, and then by flowering plants and even a few trees. The pictures on this page reflect this balance giving pride of place to mosses. Geological processes continue, eruptions build the country up, while the parting (at about one centimetre a year) of the two tectonic plates on which the it sits, allow the country to subside. The flora of Iceland reflects this hostility as summarised in the photo below. In contrast the next page presents the showy finery of tropical flowers in Đà Lạt, southern Vietnam. Mountain range beyond ash plane with foreground river. Volcanic mountains and ash, near freezing water, no place for man nor beast, but acceptable for the mosses that seem to be content everywhere - as by the banks of this river Small yellow flowers. But small ground hugging plants do assert themselves... Mass of small pink flowers growing out and down from rocks. ...as in these and the examples below left Small pink flowers. Plane of rock and moss running towards a hill. Two types of yellow flower against moss. Area of rock and moss. Areas where mosses have taken full advantage of the footholds broken rocks allow Thick moss on rocks beside stream. Mounds of moss pile up on rocks beside a stream Substantial log lying on sand. A log on a beach - must have a foreign origin Stream flowing out from under thick moss and grass beds. Bed of bluer mosses. Lush deep mosses. Giving a lie to the maxim "leave only footprints" for these plants will take many decades to recover from being trodden on Mixture of mosses and grasses. Invisible water beside moss bank. The mossy bank of a stream is distinguishable only by the darker waterweed within it and... Mosses. Grasses growing in water. ...below only the slight breeze disturbing the surface shows that there is water in the picture Rippling clear water over sand bed. Green weed moving in rippling water. Weeds flowing with the rippling water Strewn kelp stems in row along beach. ...the streams and at the coast. And so kelp provides some of the most substantial plant remains Kelp stalks. While the land offers little protection to plants, the water is kinder and water plants abound in... Sea rock pool with bladderwrack. Here, in the protective sea... Bladderwrack covered rocks while tide is out. ...floral abundance is similar the world over Rock pool with weeds, sand and stones in the water and mosses and grasses out. Maybe the colours and forms of Icelandic flora are muted compared to their tropical counterparts, but the subtle variety and patterns are sumptuous Trailers... Boys herding cattle through paddy. The next page moves from moses and lichens to the more showy flowering plants of Đà Lạt in southern Vietnam. The ceiling of the Lotfallah Mosque in Isfahan. The next page of the Mosaic Section is headed 'Particulars'.
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Saturday 29th February 2020 Murphy on duty ...guide to this site

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