Familiarity in Iceland: Flowers

Alaska has many miles of treeless coastline, from the Aleutian Islands to the Northwest Arctic and North Slope. Miles upon miles of wild, rugged coastline, embattled by the weather. As we traveled around the entire coast of Iceland, starting with West Fjords and working our way clockwise around the country, we saw many landscapes that seemed somewhat familiar to some in our home of Alaska. But the fact that we were able to drive it was a huge difference – there are no roads around the treeless coastlines of Alaska. You will also not find wandering sheep and horses, and tremendous waterfalls too numerous to count.

But one of the things of familiarity we enjoyed were the many wildflowers we found along the way. Starting with the massive fields of Arctic lupine covering mountainsides in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula and West Fjords, we encountered many species of plants that were familiar to our alpine slopes in Alaska. And, according to one person we spoke to in Ísafjörður, those lupines were actually transplanted from Alaska and used to revitalize an area after construction. But, as the case may be, those lupine tend to grow far and wide in the right conditions, so much that you can see mountains completely covered in purple. Moss campion, mountain avens, mountain harebell are other species we encountered throughout the country.

We were in Iceland starting in mid-July, which we were told is about a month past the usual wildflower peak. But, they had experienced a long, harsh winter, delaying spring and the usual mid-June wildflower peak. Plus, when we were there, it was an unusually cold summer – the coldest in some 23 years according to many locals we spoke to. So if you are planning a trip to Iceland in the summer and want to enjoy their spectacular wildflowers, I suggest going around the time of the Summer Solstice, so you can bathe in that midnight sun and enjoy the abundance of flowers that call the green, treeless mountain country of Iceland home.

To see more of the wildflower-inspired landscapes of Iceland, visit the Arctic gallery in my online gallery.

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