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Eryngium alpinum

Template:Italic title Template:Taxobox Eryngium alpinum (alpine sea holly, alpine eryngo or queen of the Alps) is a perennial herb in the family Apiaceae.


Eryngium alpinum is a hemicryptophyte, its overwintering buds are situated just below the soil surface and the floral axis more or less erect with a few leaves.<ref name=Pignatti>Pignatti S. - Flora d'Italia – Edagricole – 1982. Vol. II, pag. 176</ref> The roots are deep and robust.

The stems are solitary and erect, usually with three branches on the apex and with longitudinal purple stripes. This plant generally reaches about Template:Convert in height,<ref name=Pignatti/> with a maximum of Template:Convert. The basal leaves are oval or heart-shaped, Template:Convert wide and Template:Convert long,<ref name=Pignatti/> with toothed hedges and a long petiole. The cauline leaves are sessile and progressively more divided.<ref name=Pignatti/>

The inflorescences are dense umbels at the top of the main branches. They are bright green at the bases and the stiff, bristly bracts are blue. They are about 4 cm long and 2 cm diameter and the bracts are up to Template:Convert long.<ref name=Pignatti/> The flowers inside are about 2 mm long. The peripheral flowers are sterile and the internal flowers are hermaphroditic. Both types are actinomorphic and pentamerous, with five petals. Flowering occurs in July through September.<ref name=Pignatti/> The flowers are -insect-pollinated. The fruit is a spiny achene about half a centimeter wide.<ref name=Pignatti/>

Distribution and habitat

This plant is native to Austria, Liechtenstein, Croatia, France, Switzerland, Italy, and Slovenia.<ref name=iucn>Gygax, A., et al. 2011. Eryngium alpinum. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.1. Downloaded on 08 July 2013.</ref><ref name=sch>Schede di Botanica</ref> It grows in subalpine scrub, rocky areas and wet pastures, preferably in limestone, at an altitude of Template:Convert above sea level.<ref name=Pignatti/>


Flowers of Eryngium alpinum attract honeybees and bumblebees; here with tree bumblebee

E. alpinum is cultivated as an ornamental plant for its blue and purple flowerheads. It requires dry, well-drained soil and full sun.<ref>Eryngium alpinum. Royal Horticultural Society.</ref>


Wild populations of the species are in decline due to overcollection for ornamental use and habitat degradation from recreational activity and grazing. Numerous local extinctions of subpopulations have occurred.<ref name=iucn/>




External links

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