With its noticeable bluish-green wooly leaves forming
a rosette at its base, creeping stolons, and upright woolly flowering
shoots growing up to 20cm in height; the plant is fairly readily
identified. In the mountains it usually grows on basic (alkaline)
rocks. Diocia translates literally as two houses, due to the fact
that the male and female parts are found in separate flowers.
Arabis petraea This is a perennial herb and looks very
fragile and spindly, but the taproot is sturdy; a basal rosette
of leaves help also denotes it. The plant tends to form a mat
and is usually 10 - 25 cm high. Grows on gravel, scree and ledges;
producing white or purpleish flowers in July and August. This
is signified in the Latin petraea 'of rocks'
The Latin word campanulla is literally 'a little bell', and the
plant produces delicate blue bell shaped flowers, often seen nodding
in the breeze. The rotundifolia should obviously be a reference
to the roundish leaves of this plant. However, this is rather
misleading, as it is only the early basal leaves that are round;
by the time the plant has flowered these leaves will have disappeared
leaving only long narrow grass like leaves. Although found on
the high mountaintops; it can grow on moorland, grassland and
in sea level fields; it is not strictly an Arctic Alpine. The
plant favours calcareous soils.
Another plant forming mats or tufts; growing up to 20 cm in height;
it has grey green hairy leaves and grows on well drained rather
than calcareous rocks. Its flowers open in July and August and
the white flower petals have distinct notches.
A distinctive fern that requires plenty of moisture throughout
the year and growing in thick clumps, between 15 - 25 cm high,
and found on well-drained sites. This is a pioneer plant; that
can grow on most kinds of rock; although preferring silicas i.e.
acidic soils. The term Cryptogrammeis derived from the Greek kryptos
'hidden' and gramme 'line' the spores being hidden.
Deschampsia cespitosa sspalpina
Only found in some localities. Alpine Clubmoss Diphasiastrumalpinum
A relation to ferns rather than mosses, this is to be seen quite
often at high altitudes in Eryri. It keeps close to the ground
and the leaves are small and tightly packed, to reduce water loss,
it is this feature that forms the distinctive club shape of its
Growing on screes and rock ledges, this tufted perennial with
a leafy erect stem growing out of a rosette of leaves. It is capped
with ahead of many white flowers, which blossom in June and July.
The plant prefers calcareous (limestone based) soil and can grow
up to 50 cm in height in favourable conditions. Draba is the old
Greek word for cress; it may be due to the bitter nature of the
leaves of the plants of this genus.
A prostrate dwarf evergreen shrub rather than a flower, the
Mountain Avens form large clumps or mats. The crinkled oval leaves
have a dark green gloss and edges that although toothed are quite
rounded, the woody stems and tough roots allow the plants to survive
in harsh conditions. Its creamy white flowers are made up of eight
petals, seen in the Latin name, are open in June and July. The
term dryas: is derived from the Greek druas 'dryad, nymph'.
This particular plant is a tufted perennial grass growing on mountainsides
and rocky areas all over Eryri. This grass grows to a height of
about 40 cm and has a flowering season between June and august.
The hair like leaves are in rolled tubes and as is seen in the
name vivipara, the young grasses develop on the spikelets. The
name is derived: from the Latin festuca 'blade, stem'.
A difficult set of plants to describe as there are thousands of
micro-species in the genus Hieracium, one group of these microspecies
can be found in the uplands and are therefore termed the Alpine
Hawkweed group. Generally found on rock ledges, screes and heaths,
the plants in this group prefer acid soils. Usually found above
700m, they are between 10-20 cm in height with a hairy stem and
leaves and a single yellow flower in July and August. The Greek
word hierax 'hawk', Pliny described the belief that the hawk ate
the flower to increase the power of its eyesight.
This bulbuous perennial: its adaptations allowing it to survive
in some of the harshest conditions in the high mountains. The
Snowdon Lily has become the plant that is most associated with
Eryri. It was first discovered by Edward Llwyd in the 17th Century.
It has a short stem, no higher than 15 cm and yields creamy white
flowers, whose petals are sometimes streaked with pink. The plant
flowers in June, and it is usually only then that they are generally
recognized. The Eryri plants are over 1000 km from their nearest
Derived from the Greek mekon 'poppy' + opsis 'like'; the cambrica
obviously denotes the connection of this plant with Wales. Usually
found along the banks of mountain streams and sheltered spots between
rocks in the uplands. This is the true habitat of the plant, although
it does now grow in gardens and as an escapee on wet lowland areas.
The attractive yellow flowers can grow to about 9 cm across.
A tufted or cushion forming plant with straight narrow leaves;
it has tiny white flowers opening between May and September and
grows up to about 15 cm in height. Preferring calcareous soils,
its stout taproot can allow it to grow in rocky places, screes
This particular plant prefers damp or wet areas. Forming compact
tufts of kidney shaped leaves and upright flowering stems can
grow to30 cm in height, producing small green flowers between
July and August. Its name is derived from the Greek for sour,
due to the sharp taste of the leaves. The leaves being, edible
and providing high levels of Vitamin C, have been used in Arctic
areas to ward off scurvy.
A very rare plant in Eryri, a tall thin plant capped by a clump
of pink or white flowers, the flowering season being between June
and August. Lower down the spike, the old flowers are replaced
by purplish bulbils, from whence it usually regenerates. The bulbils
prove to be a rich source of food for deer and ptarmigan.
Growing up to 40 cm tall, this is a rare perennial grass that
is found in gullies and high rocks with basic soils that are prone
to long periods of snow cover. The leaves are broad and blunt
and it has large spikelets that develop into new plantlets. Although
the grass does flower, between July and August, it almost never
develops seeds in Britain.
Found in crevices and gullies, this plant prefers basic soils
and damp conditions. This fern has a small robust rhizome, the
fronds develop from May onwards, and these develop to a length
of between 12 -25 cm and have long spines, which give it its common
name. Each frond is split into 20 - 40 pairs of leaflets with
serrated edges. The name of the plant is derived from the Greek
polys 'many' + stichos 'a row'; this refers to the several rows
of spore cases on the plant, producing spores all through the
winter: the word lonchitis 'spearlike' denotes its frond shape.
The name is derived from the Latin potens 'powerful', the Cinquefoil
was thought to be a powerful medicinal plant. The flowers are
a bright yellow and are seen between June and July. The leaf system
is typically palmate; these leaves are arranged in a rosette around
the base of the stem. It grows in crevices, on rock ledges, gravel
and scree slopes and in some heath land communities.
This particular kind of willow is a ground-hugging shrub, developing
underground branches that form from a long creeping rhizome. The
usual branches are very short and prone. The purplish flowers
are seen between June and July, poking above a mass of leathery
leaves with serrated edges. Usually found forming dense carpets
on open hillsides; otherwise on rocky ledges and in heaths. The
name is probably derived from the Celtic sal 'willow' + lis 'water';
the descriptor herbacea is illusive, as this plant is a shrub,
although the smallest in Britain.
Named after N.T. de Saussure, the Swiss chemist and plant physiologist,
the son of Horace Benedict de Saussure. This perennial herb has
blue or purple flowers that form in dense flowers in August to
September: they have a curious scent of vanilla. Found on cliffs
and screes with short stems and toothed leaves with hairy white
A name derived from the Latin saxum 'a rock, stone' and frango
'to break'; the secon descriptor of the name is cespitosa 'tufted',
the plant certainly forms a compact cushion above a robust taproot.
Each cushion is peppered with small white or yellow flowers between
May and July. A very rare plant in Eryri, it grows in some localities
where base rich soils can be found; often on exposed rocks and
The word hypnoides 'moss like' is a reference to the mat like
nature of the plants growth. The mat of growth can serve to protect
the plant from the worst of the weather, forming its own microclimate.
The Mossy Saxifrage grows to between 5 - 30 cm in height and produces
between three and seven small white flowers on each flowering
stem. The plant flowers between May and July according to location
and aspect. This plant can grow in a number of places, it is found
on boulders, scree, rock ledges and other mountain environments,
preferring basic soils.
Preferring wet alkaline soils, this plant can also survive ongravelly
ledges and crevices. Quite a rare plant in Eryri, it has a comparatively
thick and hairy stem that grows up to about 20 cm in height. The
thick round-toothed leaves are arranged in a rosette around its
base and have a leathery feel to them. The plant prefers basic
rocks, and grows on either crevices, rocky ground or gravelly
ledges.The term nivalis is s reference to snows.
Growing in tufts or matted areas, this particular saxifrage has
long prone stems keeping close to the ground and reaching inaccessible
crevices and damp patches of calcareous soil. The plant produces
pink or purple flowers from March through to the July, quite a
lengthy period for mountain plants. In the name, the term oppositifolia
is a reference to the fact that the tiny blue green leaves of
this plant are positioned on opposite sides of the stem. Very
rare in Eryri.
Growing in moist and rocky areas, preferring acid soils, the Starry
Saxifrage is found in most areas of Europe. The leaves are distinctively
toothed; forming rosettes around the stem base, the plants occasionally
produce tufts. The most particular feature of this plant is its
flower; at the head of the stem, which may be between 5 cm and
20 cm tall. There are five white petals with two red or yellow
spots near the base of the petal; although some may be unspotted.
The anthers are also red or yellow, producing a quite striking
A plant that is often seen by rock climbers: growing in inaccessible
crevices and on ledges high up on the mountain cliffs of Eryri.
The taproot penetrates deep into the rock to provide anchorage
and a thick stem protects it from buffeting winds, each stem can
grow to over 30 cm. Somewhat reminiscent of a succulent, the leaves
are thick and seem triangular in shape clustered as they are in
tight rosettes up the stem. A tight head of yellow flowers are
seen between May and August, the female plant has four carpels
that redden gradually. The Roseroot was used as a medicinal plant
by many peoples.
Moss Campion is a long-lived perennial, found in all the arctic
alpine regions of Europe. Preferring scree slopes, rock ledges
and gravelly areas, it can also grow in moist areas if the soils
are calcareous in origin. It tends to grow in dense domes or moss-like
cushions, each cushion having a long taproot growing deep into
cracks in the bedrock. The cushion is formed; by a great many
tiny and very thin leaves; these have short stiff hairs along
their edges. During the flowering season (from July to August):
the surface of the cushion is mottled, by many pink and sometimes
white flowers, each plant having either male or female plants.
The name may be derived from the Greek sialon 'saliva' a reference
to the secretion found on the stems that ward off insects; however,
one may think that the term acaulis 'stemless' is a contradiction!
A small frail looking plant, growing in rocky and/or wet areas,
the Alpine Meadow-rue is hardier than it seems. The thin narrow
stems, no higher than 15 cm, droop over with the growth of clusters
of pale yellow flowers. The name may be an old Greek term for
the plant, possibly from thallo 'to flourish'.
A difficult name to be certain about, some experts lean towards
trollius as being an old Swiss German name for the plant; others
expound the theory that the name is derived from the German troll
Avidly collected by Victorian botanists, this probably only served
to amplify a decline in distribution already taking place; due
to its being a relic species. Its range and population is thought
to have been much greater in the periglacial or tundra period
just after the last Ice Age. As the climate has ameliorated, the
distribution of the Woodsia has become increasingly confined and
the plant developing genetic impoverishment due to inbreeding.
Named after Joseph Woods, the English Botanist; it is very rare
and is listed as a Schedule 8plant with stiff penalties for disturbance.
The Woodsia prefers basic rich soils and fairly high rainfall
and can grow in cracks on steep cliffs and rocks. The plant fronds
are tufted, they have a general spear shaped appearance and are
separated into short pair toothed leaflets that are between 3
- 10cm in length.