Welcome to this sixth edition of Botany News!
Plants grown in northern
gardens: Linden trees
Speaking of herbs: Mints,
marjoram and more!
Lava fields of Iceland
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Plants grown in northern gardens: Linden trees
Large-leaved Lime (Tilia
platyphyllos) is forms a large canopy with delicate branches
carrying nicely heart-shaped leaves and sweet-smelling flowers. This
tree is a native of southern Europe, from France and Spain east to
Crimea. Large-leaved lime may grow up to 30 m tall in warm temperate
areas, but is much smaller when grown in northern gardens such as here
in Reykjavik, Iceland.
The Common Lime (Tilia
x europaea) is a deciduous tree, thought to be a hybrid between
Large-leaved lime and Small-leaved Lime (Tilia cordata), a
northerly Linden tree native to northern Europe and extending further
south. Common Lime grows in gardens in Iceland where conditions are
good. This tree species may grow as tall as 36 m in warmer countries,
but is often prone to pests such as aphids.
Speaking of herbs: Mints, marjoram and more!
Among the members of the
Labiate family that are used as herbs are Peppermint, Spearmint,
Marjoram, Sage, Thyme and Basil.
The mints are
among the easiest herbs to grow, but at the same time difficult to
control as they send out roots in all directions. Spearmint (Mentha
spicata) is the most commonly grown garden mint in northern Europe.
This plant carries narrow almost unstalked leaves. The flowers are lilac
coloured and arranged in spikes, including a pronounced terminal spike.
This plant grows well in moist habitat.
piperita) is a perennial plant, with aromatic oils in leaves, stems
and roots and is used for food flavouring. Peppermint has a strong odour
and a pungent taste. Indigenous to Europe and Asia it commonly grows
near streams and in other damp places. It is cultivated in Europe,
Asia, and North America for its essential oil. Oil of peppermint is
widely used for flavouring candy and medicines. The oil contains large
quantities of menthol. Menthol, also called peppermint camphor, is used
as a soothing balm.
Common Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is an aromatic woody plant with
dense leaves growing on short stalks.
Hairy Thyme (Thymus
praecox) grows wild in Iceland and other northern European
countries. Here, this plant is used as herbal and medicinal tea while
it also adds delicious
lamb dishes and game meat. In Iceland, Hairy Thyme grows best on heath
as well as on other dry land. The small pink flowers of thymes are a
major attraction also for bees. Both Common Thyme and Hairy Thyme can
be cultivated to produce a herb harvest. The herbs are harvested in the
wild or in cultivated fields when in full flower. Subsequently, you may
dry the herbs by spreading out the herb material on a large tray and
then store them in a small container along with other herbs and teas.
Basil (Ocímum basilicum) is a herb belonging to the Labiate
family, and has a mild clove-like aroma and is used for adding flavor to
egg and tomato dishes. Basil is also a medical herb used for stomach
and nervous disorders. Here in the far north, Basil grows well in
south-facing windows. Marjoram (Origanum majorana) is a tender
bushy plant with woody stems. The herb is used as seasoning for meat,
soups and salads. Sage (Salvia officinalis) is best grown in
full sun on well-drained soils in temperate regions. I have grown Sage
indoors on windowsills with very good success.
Lava fields of Iceland
In southern Iceland you find large
lava fields covered with continuous mats of moss, while lava fields in
northern Iceland often have less moss but more lichens. Northern
Iceland has a drier climate than southern Iceland. Montane Moss (Racomitrium
lanuginosum) is often
pronounced. In northern Iceland, for example, in the Myvatn district, a
species of tree-shaped lichen, Sterocaulon vesuvianum, is
common. Many lichens grow better in the dry climate of northern
Iceland. Rushes, such as Spiked Wood-rush (Luzula
Rush (Juncus trifidus)
and Bellard's Kobresia (Kobresia myosuroides) and sedges such
as Curly Sedge (Carex rupestris)
are found interspersed within the mat of nonvascular mosses and lichens.
Grasses, herbs and low-growing shrub also grow on the lava, while deep
in lava crevices you find ferns.
Lava fields that are protected from grazing are eventually overgrown by
woody plants Tea-leaved Willow (Salix phylicifolia) and
(Betula pubescens). In
north Iceland the smaller species of Dwarf Birch, Betula nana is
also quite common. Irregular rock-formations in the lava fields are
often covered with nutritious guano suitable for the growth of colourful
lichens such as orange coloured
and the greenish-yellow Lecanora muralis.
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The editor found some
inspiring links for you to enjoy. Here are some nice botanical links:
Beautiful desert plants of South Africa
Opuntias and other Cacti of South America. Botany News welcomes
letters and links from persons working on all areas of botany. Here are
two sites of interest to many botanists.
The first site is
biodiversity and the second site is devoted to
conservation issues. Botany News welcomes input from persons working
for the environment. You are welcome to suggest a link to your home page
for the next issue of Botany News.
Botanical Tours in Iceland is now available on our website. Please,
remember to fill in the
Expession of Interest Form as this will greatly help us to make your
visit better. The spring, summer, and autumn are good times to explore
the nature of Iceland. However, some activities may be available if you
decide to visit Iceland during the winter months. This time of year
Reykjavik is decorated with colourful lights on trees and buildings.
Readers located in Iceland are encouraged to check out
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BOTANY NEWS is published by Thund, Reykjavik, Iceland
January 8, 2006 --
Botany News, Issue #006