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Problems with Cultivation and Identification: Identification of plant in the Saas Valley, Switzerland

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Started by: Mel Linney

Go to latest contribution by Mel Linney, 24 December 2012, 10:01. Go to bottom of this page.

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Contribution from Mel Linney 17 December 2012, 08:44top / bottom of page

After a wonderful ten Days exploring the Saas Valley in late July I have now got round to sorting my pictures. One day Elaine and I went to Saas Grund and took the Cable Car up to Hosaas where we found this beautiful plant growing. I have had several stabs at it but can't quite pin it down. My first thoughts were Ranunculus glacialis but the leaves are quite hairy which then led me to perhaps Pulsatilla ? I might add that this area had a very nice collection of Eritrichium nanum. Any help with identification will be very much appreciated.

Contribution from Martin Rogerson 17 December 2012, 11:08top / bottom of page

The altitude, flowers and flower stems are screaming R glacialis to me but, as you've noticed, all the descriptions say it is hairless but the leaf shape also suggests R glacialis. Hopefully Mr Booker will see the post and clear up the mystery!

Contribution from Paul Ranson 17 December 2012, 15:57top / bottom of page

Like Martin I'm certain it's R. glacialis. It's many years since I was there but it definitely grows there. Do you remember it as being hairy from the time of your visit or from recently looking at the pictures as to me it appears that it's actually covered in a fine film of silver sand. R. glacialis often grows where melt water runs, even flowering whilst underwater; and I just wonder whether the explanation might be that it has recently been submerged.

Contribution from Mel Linney 17 December 2012, 16:49top / bottom of page

Thank you Martin and Paul for your thoughts. I agree there is what looks like grains of dust on the leaves so I've zoomed in as much as I can to reveal what look like hairs.

I've just found another picture that seems to show hairs on the leaves.

Contribution from Cliff Booker 17 December 2012, 20:14top / bottom of page

Hi Mel & Martin,

You have been incredibly lucky to find the beautiful (and highly desirable) tomentose form of Ranuculus glacialis that features prominently on pages 143-144 of Jim Jermyn's excellent 'Alpine Plants of Europe'. To be fair, even Jim with his vast experience, knowledge and learned contacts can't positively identify this gem as a form of R. glacialis, but his alternative, a disjunct form of R. seguieri subsp. montenegrinus seems (to my eyes anyway) far less plausible. The flowers on your photographic examples ARE glacialis and don't display any visual attributes of seguieri. The foliage is unique and incredibly beautiful. I am very envious, Mel. Hope this helps?

Apologies Paul, I inadvertently omitted your name from the introduction.

Contribution from Mel Linney 19 December 2012, 12:30top / bottom of page

Thanks Cliff, I'm rather pleased that Elaine and I found the Tomentose form of R.glacialis even if we didn't know.We went onto Hohsaas following a report of some good plants of Eritichium nanum and it was a pleasure to find both. Here is one of dozens of the King of the Alps that we found up there.

Contribution from Susan Read 22 December 2012, 09:34top / bottom of page

I really like that picture. It just makes me want to go there, rather than wonder what optical and physical gymnastics were involved in taking it. Hope you have more to show us from your visit...perhaps on Plants in the Wild.

Contribution from Mel Linney 24 December 2012, 10:01top / bottom of page

Hello Susan. The Saas Valley is really wonderful, I would recommend it to anyone. The buses run on time, there are cable cars or ski lifts that get you to where the best plants are and the scenery is absolutely amazing.Yes I will put a few pictures on 'Plants in the Wild'.



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