Alpine Lady's Mantle
- Name also: Mountain Lady’s-mantle
- Family: Rose Family – Rosaceae
- Growing form: Perennial herb. Rhizome woody.
- Height: 5–20 cm (2–8 in.). Stem ascending, silk-haired.
- Flower: Corolla lacking. Calyx regular (actinomorphic), lime greenish, 2–4 mm (0.1–0.15 in.) broad; sepals 4; with epicalyx. Stamens 4. Carpel solitary. Flowers in small groups in a dense cyme.
- Leaves: In basal rosette and alternate on stem, stalked–stalkless, stipulate, stem leaves small. Leaflets 5–7, lanceolate, toothed tips, glabrous on top, underside densely hairy.
- Fruit: Small achene inside pome.
- Habitat: On fell meadows, moors, crags, snow-bed sites and stream banks. Sometimes ornamental.
- Flowering time: July–August.
Lady’s mantles are often regarded as a single species, but in Finland there are no fewer than 25 different kinds. Lady’s mantle seeds develop apomictically, without being fertilized. Gradually accumulating hereditary changes and mutations, the result is a number of lady’s mantles, often called micro-species that are all slightly different from one another. The most minimal changes remain because the different plants’ genes do not mix, as is the case in sexual reproduction.
Most lady’s mantles are characterized by their pleated leaves, but alpine lady’s mantle’s blade is divided into leaflets, making it look quite different from its relatives. The small, yellow petal-less flowers reveal its true identity however as a lady’s mantle. Of all the lady’s mantles in Finland, alpine lady’s mantle is very easy to recognise – species of lady’s mantle can be differentiated from each other at least on the basis of their colour, hairiness, leaf shape and flowers. In the north there are still several undescribed micro-species of lady’s mantle.
Alpine lady’s mantle is quite common in Lapland in certain places beside streams, in meadows, on rock faces and on snow-bed sites. In Finland it grows most abundantly in the region of the big Enontekiö fells. Several separate stands can be found further east at lower altitudes, in Lemmenjoki National Park on the Morgam-Viibus fells and in Sodankylä on Saariselkä Fell. Eastern Lapland’s stands are probably connected to the Kola Peninsula’s wider growing area. Apart from alpine lady’s mantle, several lady’s mantle species, whose leaves have entire margins, also grow in Lapland, the most common of which is clustered lady’s mantle (A. glomerulans).