Horace Bénédict de Saussure was one of Switzerland’s most famous naturalists. The huge Saussurea genus bears his name and includes over 500 species across the world. The Common Alpine Saw-wort is anything but ordinary, bearing beautiful blue-violet flower heads.
The Common Alpine Saw-wort grows between 5–15 cm, and sometimes up to 30 cm high. Its lanceolate leaves are cobweb-like on the underside. Its inflorescence consists of many smaller flower heads which consist of many individual disc florets. The fruits of the Common Alpine Saw-wort are small nuts. These bear a pappus (a calyx of hair), which helps the seeds to be dispersed by the wind.
Facts and Figures
The Common Alpine Saw-wort is among a range of plants that can thrive in grassland known as Windkantenrasen. These are exposed areas of habitat within larger areas of grassland. The climate in these habitats is harsher as there is no protective snow cover in winter and temperatures can drop very low. These types of environment require adaptations such as dense hair or clump-like growth.
The Common Alpine Saw-wort can be found in the Alps in Switzerland where it grows on exposed grassland and windy ledges in soils that are low in nutrients and calcium. more information