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Monday, July 06, 2009

Some plants of Shetland

Although Shetland may give a first impression of somewhat sombre peat-brown vegetation, the observant eye will readily find colourful splashes of flowers. Because the geology and soil types of Shetland is so varied, there is a huge botanical biodiversity throughout the islands. Readers who are interested in the local botany can find further information here.

The Yellow Iris (also Yellow Flag) Iris pseudacorus is found in wet areas and sometimes follows the courses of wet gullies (see picture in the post below)

In May and June the grazed maritime grassland is studded
like stars with Spring Squill
Scilla verna

Grassy areas subjected to occasional sea spray during storms are clustered with clumps of Sea Pinks (Thrift) Armeria maritima

Carnivorous plants
In areas where the soil is impoverished and lacks certain nutrients (notably nitrogen) certain plants may thrive by supplementing their nutrient intake by catching insects. Plants that are adapted to trap and digest insects are called carnivorous ("meat-eating") plants. Among the best known of these are the Venus Fly Trap and the Pitcher Plant . (You can see a brief movie of a Venus Fly Trap catching an insect here.) Many species of carnivorous plants actually exude a scent that is attractive to insects.

In Shetland there are two species of carnivorous plant that are commonly encountered in the nutrient-poor acid soils of the peat bogs.

A species of Sundew Drosera sp. Each leave rosette has a "hair" tipped by a globule of sticky liquid to which insects are attracted. They stick to the globule and the rosette then folds inwards to enclose the insect. Hydrolytic enzymes secreted by the plant digest the insect's proteins, thereby releasing nitrogen for absorbtion by the plant.

In this close up you can see that the "hairs" are tipped with a sticky, glistening globule.
Click on the picture to enlarge.

Butterwort Pinguicula sp. has a delicate blue flower, but it is the sticky leaves that attract the insects

When an insect is stuck, the leaves they curl inwards like a tube to trap and enclose it. Then the plant's digestive enzymes get to work to release the insect's nitrogen


Blogger simon said...

matte- my first post of Shetland 2002 is up....

12:38 pm  
Blogger simon said...

Matte? geez! MATE!

I remember seeing Butterwort and an otter!

12:03 am  
Blogger Angel... said...

Maalie, what a beautiful pictures..thanks so much for sharing with us.

9:13 pm  
Blogger simon said...

ps... ow are we doing in the test mate??

12:38 pm  
Blogger simon said...

ow?... HOW!

12:39 pm  
Blogger Sunshine said...

Maalie... what a beautiful plant pictures really have a good taste with the nature...


9:28 pm  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Yes, very nice plant pictures. And fascinating, those insect eating plants.

I really like plants of all kinds more and more as I get older. And especially flowers (along with trees). It would be interesting to learn more about those insect eating plants.

4:32 am  
Blogger nyght said...

its very beautiful plants. great shot.


1:48 am  

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