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Kerners Läusekraut

Pedicularis kerneri Dalla Torre

According to a popular German rhyme “The lousewort is so full of lice that it is terrified of itself.” But that’s not true – lice are hardly ever found on this plant. Kerner’s Lousewort is hard to ignore with its eye-catching purple flowers. The harmless-looking species is semi-parasitic, shamelessly harming its neighbours and robbing them of nutrients and water.   Kerner’s Lousewort grows to a height of between 5–15 cm. Its deeply serrated leaves are often tinged with red. The pretty flowers are a striking purple and rotate daringly up to 90° on their own axis.    

Facts and Figures

Like all louseworts (pedicularis), Kerner’s Lousewort is semi-parasitic. It uses special suction organs to tap into other plants and deprive them of water and nutrients. This is an advantageous strategy on nutrient-deficient and sometimes dry mountain grasslands.  

Territory

Kerner’s Lousewort can be found in Alpine regions extending from Spain to Austria. In Switzerland, it is found on stony grassland and in low-calcareous scree. You can see these luminous plants on the Gornergrat every now and again.    more information

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