Thursday, August 23, 2012

swedish wild flower diary - july 2012

This is the unexpected new arrival that greeted me when I arrived at the stuga in E. Jämtland on 12th July, growing on the "lawn" just beyond the bro. It is Lychnis viscaria L. (syn. Viscaria vulgaris Bernh., Tjärblomster, Sticky Catchfly), which I'd seen before down by the river Indal, but not up here. Details below of the inflorescence and of the sticky patch on the stem, along with some unfortunate insects.

Of course, there were also some old favourites to greet:

Coeloglossum viride (L.) (Grönkulla, Frog Orchid), bigger and better than ever, with Fiat 500 in the background. Close-up below.

Above and below, Platanthera bifolia (L.) (Nattviol, Lesser Butterfly-orchid).

Lysimachia thyrsiflora (Topplösa, Tufted Loosestrife), growing below cliffs at the edge of Fångsjön, E. of Strömsund, where we'd gone to see the rock paintings. There was a sign in central Strömsund pointing the way to this atttraction, but it was quite a long road that then turned into a long forest track, the sort of unmetalled track for which our bright yellow Fiat 500 proved singularly ill-adapted. When we eventually parked up I was so excited to see Trifolium spadiceum (Brunklöver) that I forgot to take a picture of it. From there we walked for half a mile through woodland to the top of the cliffs, alternately thrilled and scared by the thought of meeting a bear, and I slid down a steep path to the foot of the cliffs to take a look at the blurry 3,000-year-old red paintings. (Strömsund Kommun, a vast unpopulated region, has more European Brown Bears than anywhere else in Europe, but they're shy of humans.)

Reindeer, Fångsjön.

Back in Strömsund, I photographed this pretty vetch at the foot of a garden fence. At first I refused to believe that it was just plain old Vicia cracca L. (Kråkvicker, Tufted Vetch). Nevertheless, that seems to be what it is (standard limb as long or longer than claw, calyx not assymetrical), though the appearance of the flowers is untypically eye-catching. Pale wings are generally more typical of V. villosa. (Of course even typical Tufted Vetch doesn't really deserve to be written off as "plain old".)

A fairly stunning water-meadow of Polemonium caeruleum L. (Blågull, Jacob's-ladder), seen from the main road at Muråsen, just south of Strömsund.

Also, in the same meadow, Galeopsis speciosa Mill. (Hampdån, Large-flowered Hemp-nettle).

Leucanthemum vulgare Lam. (Prästkrage, Oxeye Daisy) in evening sun, in lay-by south of Skyttmon.

Filipendula ulmaria L. (Älggräs, Meadowsweet), taken outside of Ragunda Gamla K:a on my last day in Jämtland, 18th July, just after enjoying an evening concert in the tiny church. It's a somewhat counter-intuitive observation that certain common species, such as Meadowsweet and Rosebay Willowherb, come into bloom earlier here than in southern England, some 500 miles further south. Explanations for why this happens fall into two basic groups. 1. Reasons why, in spite of the higher latitude, flowering might nevertheless be triggered earlier; perhaps a more reliable summer, a continental climate, longer hours of daylight. 2. The observation that, as the species here fill subtly different ecological niches from their English cousins,  this could selectively favour early flowerers. Later ones might be hampered by a decline in insect pollinators and the need to ripen fruit before the early onset of autumn. Generally the flowering season in East Jämtland strikes me as more compressed; it is brief and brilliant, there are less pests to contend with but every flower needs to get on with it. The flowers of May June July and August (in English terms) jostle together in this single month of July.

At the concert the performers were Sanna Nordlander (voice) and Klas Norberg (voice, piano, guitar). There was no programme, but I scribbled down the songs that I could remember:

"A Whole New World" (from Disney's The Lion King) - at least, that was the melody. The Swedish lyrics didn't seem to be a translation.

"Let this be our prayer" (in English and Italian, as sung by Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli)

A song about Ragunda Lake and how much the inhabitants loved it (before it was accidentally drained by Vild-Hussen on 6th-7th June 1796).

"Ellinor dansa" and "Rosa på bal", two Evert Taube songs.

A song from Phantom of the Opera.

A song about a peasant who tried to shoot a horse but the horse survives.

"Walking in Memphis", the Marc Cohn song (1991) later covered by Cher (1995).

"You raise me up", written by Rolf Løvland and Brendan Graham, originally a 2002 hit (for Secret Garden with vocals by Brian Kennedy) in Norway and Ireland, subsequently an international standard covered by Josh Groban and tons of other people.

"Fattig Bonddräng", popular song from 1971 with music by Georg Riedel and words by Astrid Lindgren.

"Suspicious Minds", the Elvis Presley classic.

Hammarforsens Kraftverk, Hammarstrand (from Ragunda Gamla Kyrka).

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