Norwegian mugwort is a rare alpine herb (3) that forms small, aromatic tufted plants (4). The deeply toothed leaves are hairy on both the upper and lower surfaces (2). The flowering stems are also hairy and bear a few silky leaves (4). The nodding flowers are yellowish in colour (2). The form of Norwegian mugwort found in Britain is known as variety scotica(2).
Norwegian mugwort is a perennial plant that is able to spread by means of thickened, branching, creeping storage stems known as rhizomes. However, the importance of sexual reproduction by seeds compared to vegetative reproduction is yet to be determined (5). Little is understood of the ecology of this species, and further research is required, particularly into seed dispersal and viability, as this may prove to be the key that explains the very restricted range of this plant (3).
This native species was first discovered in 1950 in western Ross, northern Scotland. Since then it has been found at two further sites in the same region (5). Elsewhere it is also found in Norway and the Ural Mountains, Russia (4).
The UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) lists the Norwegian mugwort as a priority species (3). The Species Action Plan that was produced to coordinate conservation efforts suggests that further research into the ecology of the species is needed in order to guide conservation measures (3). The Scottish Rare Plant Project, a joint project between Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, has funded research on a range of rare native Scottish plants, including Norwegian mugwort, and has raised public awareness of rare plants in Scotland (6).
Plants that live for at least three seasons; after an initial period they produce flowers once a year.
Rhizomes are thickened, branching, creeping storage stems. Although most rhizomes grow laterally just along or slightly below the soil's surface, some grow several inches deep. Roots grow from the underside of the rhizome, and during the growing season new growth sprouts from buds along the top. A familiar rhizome is the ginger used in cooking.
Vegetative reproduction (or propagation)
Type of asexual reproduction (reproduction without recombination of genetic material) that results in the propagation of plants using only the vegetative tissues such as leaves or stems. The resulting plant is genetically identical to the original plant. A well-known example of this is the reproduction of strawberry plants from ‘runners’.
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