The flora of Northern Europe has many similarities to that of eastern North America and high elevation plants in the Alps have close relatives in the Rocky Mountains, so I knew many of the plants. Sort of. Because, apart from widespread weeds, North America's plants are only related to Europe's, not identical.
Where I actually knew the plants, they were European natives that are now weeds in North America.
Of course the dandelion, Taraxacum officinale (sunflower family, Asteraceae) - a source of food and medicine across the Europe in the 17th century, so it brought to North America intentionally, then we stopped using it and it got away.
|dandelions in Switzerland|
|St. John's wort, Klamath weed, Hypericum perforatum|
I'd been wanting to see European columbines (genus Aquilegia, buttercup family, Ranunculaceae), for example
|a European columbine|
|creeping juniper, European style: Juniperus communis var. nana|
I know several American violets. These are European mountain violets, Viola bicolor (yellow with brown lines, violet family, Violaceae). The flowers are sometimes as big as dime but these were less than half that. I liked the miniature look.
|Viola bicolor, high in the Swiss alps|
Tussilago farfara coltsfoot (sunflower family, Asteraceae). I knew it only by reputation. It is Eurasian and a weed in parts of the United States but not familiar to me. Seeing it in Switzerland was really neat: they were flowering in the meltwater of the snow, just inches from the last of the snow.
|coltsfoot, Tussilago farfara|
|Coltsfoot and the snow|
|common primrose, Primula vulgaris|
When I get some time, I'll look them up. For now, they are unknown Alpine wildflowers.
Whether I was saying "hi" to a plant I knew or "good to meet you" to one I didn't recognize,
the fields of summer flowers in central Switzerland, vicinity of Wengen, were a delight.
Comments and corrections welcome.
Kathy Keeler, A Wandering Botanist
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