Welcome to this eighth edition of Botany News!
note from the editor
The flora of Iceland: ancient or recent?
Speaking of chili peppers
By the seaside
The Papyrus Plant
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The flora of Iceland: ancient or recent?
Iceland is situated in the
North Atlantic between the continents of Europe and North America.
Greenland is the nearest country, the nearest point being 300 km
away. While, the coasts of Norway 1000km,
Scotland 800 m, and Ireland are considerably further away. Opinions differ
on the origin of the flora and how the plants arrived here. Some
species of plants were likely carried across the ocean by birds
while others drifted by ocean currents or were carried here by high
winds. There is some controversy over how many plants species
re-established from ice-free mountain peaks, nunataks, after the ice age.
However, plants are also thought to
have colonized Iceland after the ice age, some perhaps with the
settlers of Iceland and transport to the country during the last
The composition of the
Icelandic flora is similar to the Scandinavian flora. However,
there are fewer species here and some plants here originate in North
America. In the future more plant species are predicted to colonize
Iceland and to be carried here by humans and natural forces.
of chili peppers!
Chili peppers, peppers seeds and ground chili are popular spices
around the world.
The many varieties of
peppers differ in shape, colour,
Each type adding its unique
and aroma to steaks, stews, soups and sauces, making the red-hot
chili peppers an important item on your spice shelf. The most
famous dish is chili con carne.
chili pepper is the fruit of one of a number of species in the genus
Capsicum, belonging to the nightshade family (Solanaceae).
The nightshade family contains many well-known food plants such as
the closely related bell peppers and the more distantly related
tomatoes and potatoes.
Chili peppers and their various cultivars originate in South and
Central America and are cultivated around the world as spices,
vegetables and healing plants. Chili peppers and their products
have several medicinal functions as decongestants and pain killers,
they are rich source of vitamin C and have antibacterial
properties. Chili is also used in pepper sprays and organic
By the seaside
the coast in Iceland there is unique vegetation, including maritime
plants as well as other plants associated with diverse sandy
habitats, lava fields and highland deserts. Common plants on sandy
beaches include the succulent Sea Sandwort (Honckenya peploides),
the blue-green Oyster Plant (Mertensia martima), Orache (Atriplex
spp.) and Sea Rocket (Cakile arctica). Porous, sandy and
volcanic soils near the coast are home to the purple-flowered legume
Tufted Weed (Vicia
with fine tendrils, weeds such Sea Plantain (Plantago maritima)
and daisy-like Scentless Mayweed (Matricaria maritima), the
Creeping Silver-weed (Argentina
the medicinal plant Common Scurvy (Cochlearia
in the past by humans as a source of vitamin C. Inland from the
shore you often find stretches of Crowberry (Empetrum nigrum).
The berries are enjoyed as a topping on skyr, Iceland’s traditional
and healthy yogurt.
the spring and summer you may find the nesting colonies of the
beautiful Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea). In the autumn you
will see the occasional Kittiwake (Rissa
and the thick-billed Fulmar (Fulmarius
gliding above the sea cliffs. A significant part of the world
Fulmars breeds in Iceland.
While cliff-dwelling birds include the Puffin (Fratercula
the sturdy Razorbill (Alca torda). The guano from the birds
benefits the coastal vegetation, that often remains green well into
the autumn especially along the south coast.
(Cyperus papyrus) is a tall robust plant in the
sedge family (Cyperaceae). The Papyrus Plant is usually rooted but
sometimes floating and forming large mats. The plant orginates in
Africa, while its current distribution extends to the Middle Eastern
and Mediterranean regions. The Papyrus Plant was used for papyrus
production in ancient Egypt. Papyrus which in some ways resembles
paper was made by slicing the plant stems, softening the paper
material in water, pressing and drying the material to create paper
scrolls for writing and larger sheets for painting.
Papyrus was invented 4000 B. C. and was very important for the
Egyptians, who also exported this product to other nations. The
Chinese invented methods for producing modern paper four thousand
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· The flower box
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October 29, 2006 -- Botany News, Issue #008