Mountain avens

Botanical Name:Dryas octopetala
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Dryas
Species: D. octopetala
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Rosales

Common names: Mountain avens, white dryas, and white dryad

Habitat : Dryas octopetala has a widespread occurrence throughout mountainous areas where it is generally restricted to limestone outcrops. These include the entire Arctic, as well as the mountains of Scandinavia, Iceland, the Alps, Carpathian Mountains, Balkans, Caucasus and in isolated locations elsewhere. In Great Britain it occurs in the Pennines (northern England), at two locations in Snowdonia (north Wales), and more widely in the Scottish Highlands; in Ireland it occurs on The Burren and a few other sites. In North America it is found in Alaska, most frequently on previously glaciated terrain, reaching as far south as Colorado in the Rocky Mountains.

It is the official territorial flower of the Northwest Territories, and the national flower of Iceland.

Description:
The Mountain Avens  is a small plant, 2 to 3 inches high, distinguished from all other plants of the order Rosaceae by its oblong deeply-cut leaves, which are white with a woolly down beneath, and by its large, handsome, anemone-like, white flowers, which have eight petals. It blooms in the spring. It is not uncommon in the mountainous parts of the British Isles, especially on limestone.

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The stems are woody, tortuous, with short, horizontal rooting branches. The leaves are glabrous above, densely white-tomentose beneath. The flowers are produced on stalks 3–10 cm (1.2–3.9 in) long, and have eight creamy white petals – hence the specific epithet octopetala. The style is persistent on the fruit with white feathery hairs, functioning as a wind-dispersal agent. The feathery hairs of the seed head first appear twisted together and glossy before spreading out to an expanded ball which the wind quickly disperses.

It grows in dry localities where snow melts early, on gravel and rocky barrens, forming a distinct heath community on calcareous soils.

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When cultivated, it likes a sunny spot, not too dry, and prefers a little lime in the soil. It is propagated by layers or seeds, layers being the easiest method.

Cultivation :
Easily grown in ordinary gardening soil, preferring a sunny position. Prefers limestone soils. Prefers a gritty well-drained peaty soil. A sub-shrub, producing annual stems from a woody base. A good plant for a rock garden, it succeeds on banks and on walls. A very ornamental plant. The sub-species D. octopetala hookeriana has been shown to produce nitrogen nodules on its roots due to a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, in the same way as peas and beans. It has been assumed here that the species type can also do this[K]. Some of the nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby. Established plants strongly resent root disturbance.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown in pots a shady cold frame or sheltered place outdoors as soon as it is ripe[200]. Stored seed requires stratification and should be sown as soon as possible. The seed usually germinates in 1 – 12 months or more at 20°c[200]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division of self-layered shoots in early spring[1, 200]. Cuttings of half-ripe wood with a heel, July/August in sharp sand in a frame

Medicinal Uses:
Antidiarrhoeal;  Astringent;  Digestive.

The entire plant, harvested just before or at flowering time is astringent and digestive[9]. An infusion is used as a stomach tonic, and also as a gargle for treating gingivitis and other disorders of the mouth and throat.

Other Uses:
The plant makes a good ground cover for spring bulbs, though it is not strongly weed suppressive. Slow-growing at first, it then forms a dense mat. Plants should be spaced about 30cm apart each way and they form a carpet, the branches rooting at intervals along the stems.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/a/avens084.html
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Dryas+octopetala
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dryas_octopetala

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