Arabis alpina   Alpine Rock Cress

Arabis alpina

This is a plant I've always wanted to see but in the British Isles it grows in only a few places in the Cuillin Hills on the Island of Skye and few botanist know of its whereabouts. In fact for two years some very competent botanical friends went in groups determined to find it using directions supposedly derived from its last known sighting. They failed to find it but in 2004 another north-western botanist went looking in areas it ought to grow and found it on two sites.

Imagine the surprise then, when perusing unidentified plants from a holiday in Slovenia in 2001, this photo turned up. Close examination shows the amplexicaule, irregularly dentate upper leaves with rounded bases, sepals slightly baggy at the base half the length of the flowers and siliquae (seed pods on crucifers) which are considerable longer than the flower. Although it is very rare in the British Isles this plant is actually quite common in European Mountains where it seems to prefer limestone habitats.

Amongst limestone gravel at the topmost point of Ljubelj Pass between Slovenia and Austria 1st June 2001

Added on December 22nd 2005, updated 2nd October 2008, updated 27th Feb 2010, updated 10th November 2014

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