By the seaside

Near 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 cracca), with fine tendrils, weeds such Sea Plantain (Plantago maritima) and daisy-like Scentless Mayweed (Matricaria maritima), the Creeping Silver-weed (Argentina anserina) and the medicinal plant Common Scurvy (Cochlearia officinalis), used 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.

In 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 tridactyla) and the thick-billed Fulmar (Fulmarius glacialis) gliding above the sea cliffs. A significant part of the world population of Fulmars breeds in Iceland. While cliff-dwelling birds include the Puffin (Fratercula arctica) and 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.

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