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Sibbaldia

Sibbaldia procumbens

  • Name also: Creeping Sibbaldia
  • Family: Rose Family – Rosaceae
  • Growing form: Perennial herb. Rootstock woody, creeping, covered by dried stipules.
  • Height: 3–10 cm (1–4 in.). Stem reddish.
  • Flower: Corolla regular (actinomorphic), greenish yellow–pale yellow, approx. 0.5 cm (0.2 in.) broad; petals 5, round-tipped, approx. 2 mm (0.08 in.) long, shorter than calyx. Calyx 5-lobed; with epicalyx. Stamens 5. Gynoecium separate, pistils 10. Receptacle hairy. Inflorescence a dense corymb.
  • Leaves: In basal rosette (sometimes also on stem), long-stalked, stipulate. Blade palmate, with 3 leaflets. Leaflets narrowly triangular, narrow at base, tip 3-toothed, sparsely haired. Stipules large, lanceolate, mainly fused to stalk.
  • Fruit: Quite round, shiny, brown, approx. 1 mm (0.04 in.) long achene.
  • Habitat: On fell tundra meadows, stony moors, stream banks, snow-bed sites. Sometimes an ornamental.
  • Flowering time: July–August.

Genus Sibbaldia consists of less than ten species, most of which grow on the mountains of Asia. In Finland, sibbaldia is a genuine tundra species. This low, downtrodden-looking plant hides itself well even from botanists’ searching eyes: its stem presses close to the ground, its leaves spread sideways, and even its flower only rises a few centimetres from the earth. This kind of plant can only grow where its neighbours are just as short.

Sibbaldia’s typical habitats are snow bed sites and hollows on north-facing fell slopes where the snow only melts in late summer. The middle of snow-bed sites are bare for the shortest time and can only support algae and moss, but humble, creeping sibbaldia covers the earth at their edges where the snow melts faster. If it is not shaded by other plants it can grow in dryer places, e.g. gravelly meadows and beside reindeer tracks.

Sibbaldia is mainly pollinated by insects and only flowers after a number of years. The seeds usually develop abundantly and spread across the fells on the wind and partly also with reindeer. Plants that get trapped in hoofs and shoes can spread to Lappish villages’ dry meadows. Sibbaldia’s creeping, woody rootstock can also start a new plant if it breaks off.

Sibbaldia often deviates from the path and heads for its favoured habitats in order to get itself seen. It is common in the Lappish fells of Enontekiö and Inari and also grows in snowy hollows on the fells of Saariselkä and Pallastunturi. Its southernmost, very separate stands are on the fells of Kittilä, Aakenustunturi, Värriötunturi in Salla, and Takkaselkätunturi.

Other species from the same family
Trees and bushes from the same family

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