FLORA OF ICELAND elements: Cochlearia officinalis, common scurvygrass

Cochlearia officinalis; the common scurvygrass has a remarkable distribution. On the one hand it is common along the coastal fringes, but it also grows in interior highland regions in small numbers. If these plants really belong to the same species is still under investigation. It loves nutrient-rich soils. Thus one can find it quite abundantly growing in bird colonies, both on cliffs and flat lands. The opening photo shows a rich flowering plant, the flowers hiding the leaves. The leaves are very characteristic: glossy green thickish spade-shaped - growing in circular shaped rosette's (second picture). It is said that this plant is rich in vitamine C. The crew of the sailor Willem Barentz, who in the 17th century tried to find a route to India by sailing north-east of the Eurasian continent and subsequently got stuck on Nova Zembla (forcing them to spend the arctic winter there), survived their ordeal by eating this plant as a vegetable.
It is a member of the cabbage (= mustard) family) (Brassicaceae formerly known as Cruciferae). The Icelandic name of this species is Skarfakál.

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A brief introduction to Iceland plants
Text & Photographs by Dick Vuijk - unless stated otherwise


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