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Soldanella alpina

Posted by
Johan Dierckx (Wijnegem, Belgium) on 11 September 2011 in Plant & Nature and Portfolio.

Soldanella alpina (NL: "Alpenkwastjesbloem" / EN: Alpine snowbell / DE: Gewöhnliches Alpenglöckchen, Gewöhnliche Troddelblume / FR: Soldanelle des Alpes) is a member of the Primulaceae native to the Alps and Pyrenees. Can Any Plant Grow Under Ice? This is very often done by this interesting little Alpine plant. During the summer the flat leaves are exposed to the sun and the plant stores up fuel in the leaves until these become quite fat. Then, as time passes, they flatten to the ground, and when the snow falls the hard, leathery covering of the leaves protects them from damage. The plant sleeps through the winter, but in early spring the water trickling through cracks in the frozen snow above gets round the root and causes the plant to germinate. A little bud begins to open and, using the fuel stored up in the leaves, melts a place for itself in the frozen snow or ice. As it grows up toward the light it continues to melt the snow, until at last it emerges into the fresh air, but down below the snow again freezes together round the stem. The flowers open, and when the snow disappears the little soldanella is practically a full-grown plant with its blossoms open inviting the bees to enter and fertilize them. The bees accept the invitation, and fruits form, yielding seeds. The plant then flattens again to the ground and stores up fuel for the following year.
If the soldanella were to wait for the snow to disappear before it began to grow it would have little chance of surviving, for there are crowds of other plants all round that would overtop it, shut out the sunshine, and prevent its blossoms from opening properly. By melting its way through the ice and blossoming before the other plants have grown, the soldanella preserves its life and produces seeds which grow and carry on the race.

Image: Passo di Fedaia (IT) - 09/07/2011

Canon EOS 400D 1/250 second F/5.6 ISO 200 150 mm

© Johan Dierckx

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All species are photographed in their natural habitat, without cutting or capturing them, and with maximal respect and the least possible disturbance to the environment.

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Aubélia from Kortrijk, Belgium

Mooie bloempje, prachtig van kleur. Mooi scherpteverloop.

11 Sep 2011 7:55am

Maggy from Liège, Belgium

Point de vue réussi pour un bel effet

11 Sep 2011 8:26am

Magda from Vancouver, Canada

those are absolutely stunning!

14 Oct 2011 5:08am

donna allen from United States

thank you for sharing your beautiful work. in my morning devotional a referance was made to this impossible Alpine flower. God bless you.

27 Nov 2015 5:13pm

Canon EOS 400D
1/250 second
ISO 200
150 mm