Alpine Bartsia or Alpine helmet

Bartsia alpina

preview hoep 00003 bartsia alpina alpenhelmOn sunny alpine meadows above the timber line one can find sometimes a plant whose blossoms and upper leaves light up deeply violet. This „gloomy colouring“ prompted Carl Linné to name this plant after one early deceased friend. It was the colonial physician Johann Bartsch who died 1738 at the age of only 28 years in Surinam.

The alpine helmet is interesting also due to another aspect: It is a semi-parasite of the broomrape family and can obtain nutrients from other plants using specialized roots (haustoria). It is pollinated mainly by bumblebees.