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Northern Androsace

Androsace septentrionalis

  • Name also: Northern Fairy-candelabra (North America)
  • Family: Primrose Family– Primulaceae
  • Growing form: Annual herb. Taproot small.
  • Height: 3–20(–40) cm (1.2–8(–16) in. Stems erect–gently arching, leafless, sparsely haired, slightly reddish scapes, 1–4.
  • Flower: Corolla regular (actinomorphic), wheel-shaped, white or light reddish, approx. 5 mm (0.2 in.) wide, with constricted throat, 5-lobed, lobes round-tipped. Calyx widely campanulate, bristly, flecked, lobes short. Stamens 5. Pistil a fused carpel. Inflorescence a quite dense, 5–30-flowered umbel, flower-stalks different lengths.
  • Leaves: In basal rosette, stalkless–very short-stalked, prostrate. Blade narrowly obovate, with tapered base, hairy, margin usually sparsely shallow-toothed.
  • Fruit: Spherical, slightly longer than calyx, opening until base, approx. 3 mm (0.12 in.) long capsule.
  • Habitat: Rural meadows and rocky outcrops, roadsides and railway embankments, banks, yards, wasteland.
  • Flowering time: May–June.
  • Endangerment: Endangered, protected across the whole of Finland, including the Åland Islands.

Northern androsace is a small and delicate annual plant. Its whole development from rising from the earth to releasing its seeds can happen in 60–70 days for a plant that germinates in the spring. This short-rooting plant, which usually grows in dry habitats, is in a great rush to flower and produce its seed before the hot summer days begin. Its small, white flowers are pollinated by flies, but the plant also ensures its seed production by self-pollinating. The species grows wild or in culturally influenced, open and light-filled areas. It soon disappears if its habitat gets choked up with grasses or moss. On the other hand, any kind of clear patch that has been created by e.g. grazing or trampling suits it well, and certain stands have even benefitted from black garden ants ( Lasius niger).

Other relatives that grow (rarely) in Finland are filiform rockjasmine (A. filiformis), which is easy to differentiate by its clearly stalked rosette leaves, and flowering plants can be identified by the uniformly coloured, edgeless calyx. California rockjasmine (A. elongata) can be recognised by its densely stellate-haired scapes which are arching, even horizontal when they are flowering, and the calyx is clearly larger than the corolla and capsule. Both species are very rare in Finland, growing mainly as established aliens as far north as southern Häme.

Other species from the same family

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