Diapensia lapponica L.
Diapensia, pincushion plant
|Kingdom||Plantae||Plants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae|
|Subkingdom||Tracheobionta||Vascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients|
|Division||Magnoliophyta||Flowering plants, also known as angiosperms|
|Class||Magnoliopsida||Dicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves|
|Subclass||Asteridae||A large class that encompasses asters|
|Order||Diapensiales||A small group that includes oconee bells and a few others|
|Family||Diapensiaceae||A small group that includes oconee bells and a few others|
|Genus||Diapensia||From Wikipedia: “sources disagree on how Linnaeus derived [this name]. Gray states that the term was derived from the Greek name of the sanicle, a very different looking flower, and opined that the term was “of obscure meaning [and] strangely applied . . . to this boreal plant.” Webster’s [states] the term is “New Latin, perhaps irregular from Greek dia pente, “by fives,” and New Latin -ia; from the five-leaved calyx,” a description that would apply to thousands of flowering plants. The Encyclopaedia Londinensis of John Wilkes suggested that the term is from Greek,”deeply grieving or mourning; probably from its situation”|
About plant names...
Diapensia is circumboreal—at home in cold subarctic regions and high
mountain elevations. It favors rocky ridge scoured clean of snow by high winds.
Plants: Diapensia forms low-growing mats
⅜-1¾″ (1-5 cm) high. (Technically this dimunutive plant is an evergreen shrub.)
Its pincusion-like shape traps heat, and its low profile helps
to protect it from the wind, and it has adaptations protecting it from winter’s cold.
It is very slow-growing, but very long-lived, often
living one or even two centuries. It has survived immersion in liquid nitrogen.
Leaves: Leathery, oval, entire (smooth-edged),
up to ⅛-½″ (5-15 mm) × 1/32-⅛″ (0.5-3 mm). They are yellowish green to green, or
dark red in winter.
Flowers: Small, solitary white flowers, sometimes pink,
appear atop stems up to 1″ (3 cm) high. Each flower has five petals.
Some species have two blooming periods—early June
and August, on different plants.
Fruits: Capsules are ovoid, brown or
red, 1/16-⅛″ (2-3 mm) × 1/32-1/16″ (1-2 mm). Capsules persist through the winter,
releasing seeds in early spring.
Newcomb, Lawrence, Morrison, Gordon (Illus.), Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide, Little, Brown and Company, 1977, 176
6/12/2011 · Mount Washington, 6288', New Hampshire · By Constance B. Kent
Diapensia lapponica description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 23 Aug 2023.
© FloraFinder.org. All rights reserved.
7/13/2015 · Mt. Mansfield, Stowe/Cambridge, Vermont · ≈ 8 × 5″ (19 × 13 cm)
7/13/2015 · Mt. Mansfield, Stowe/Cambridge, Vermont · ≈ 7 × 4½″ (18 × 12 cm)
7/13/2015 · Mt. Mansfield, Stowe/Cambridge, Vermont · ≈ 9 × 6″ (22 × 15 cm)
About this map...