On the heels of the 5000th comment posted a couple days ago, today’s milestone achieved is the 1000th entry (on the 999th consecutive day, due to the double entry earlier this year). What better way to celebrate than with violets?
For most of you, I’ll guess that you’ve never encountered violets that looked like these before. It is unfortunate that these plants never flowered in the garden before dying, so I don’t have any photographs of them in bloom, nor have I been able to track down an online photograph elsewhere. Images of related species of rosulate (“leaves forming a rosette”) violets in bloom do exist, though they are also rare. For examples, scroll down to the middle of the page in Alpine Garden Society Expedition to Northern Patagonia: November-December 2005 for photographs of six different species of rosulate violets.
Like the other species in the link above, Viola atropurpurea is also native to Patagonia, i.e., southern South America. Within the violet genus, these rosulate species are all grouped together in the Section Andinium, named for the Andes.
A description of the species is available from the Rock Garden Plant Database: Viola atropurpurea. The peculiar growth-form helps individuals survive the high-altitude environment by reducing water loss, ameliorating sub-freezing temperatures for the entire above-ground plant, optimizing light interception and protecting the apical meristem, or the growing tip of the plant, from temperature damage.
On the subject of Patagonia and land conservation: a couple weeks ago, the local weekly independent newspaper had an article about a Canadian company planning “to industrialize Patagonia for the first time”; see: Canadian pension funds linked to controversial project in Patagonia. In a world of environmental ills, I’m particularly incensed about this one as I seem to be partly responsible for this project through both my country’s pension plan and perhaps my workplace plan. I’m going to be asking a few questions in the new year about this… In the meantime, this topic led me to discover the weblog Patagonia Under Siege and find this summary article about the issues via onearth.