Diapensia Lapponica -Beautiful Summer Flowering Plant

Diapensia is one type of perennial flowering plant that usually blooms in late summer. It usually grows in windy places that are free of snow. You can find it in the Himalayas, the mountains of China, North America, and other alpine regions.

Today, I will discuss this beautiful flowering plant in detail. Besides, I will show the uses and some advantages also. If you wish to have this plant in your garden, stay tuned until this article’s end.

Diapensia At a Glance

Scientific nameDiapensia lapponica
Plant typePerennial
Plant size5-15 cm
Leaf size1 cm
WidthExtremely small
Soil conditionAcidic
Sun exposurePartial
Leaf colorGreen
Flower colorCreamy white
Blooming seasonJune-August

What is a Diapensia?

Diapensia is a flowering plant generally found in high mountains, mostly in the Himalayas. The plant likes to grow in rocky places which are free of snow. People know the Diapensia plant as the name of the pincushion plant. This flowering plant belongs to the family Diapensiaceae.

The size of the plant is too short, and the growth rate of diapensia is extremely slow. It can grow up to 15 cm long. The flowers it contains are white. Additionally, this plant is highly sensitive to temperature.

However, this plant can live for more than a century. June-August is the time that it blooms all over the world. Different regions of plants have different blooming times, though. Also, Diapensia has oval-shaped leaves.

Why Is It Called Diapensia?

The Swedish botanist & taxonomist Linnaeus gave the name Diapensia. At an early age, he traveled to a place called Lapland and found this flowering plant. But there is no valid source to claim about why he called it Diapensia.

However, a scientist named Gray has some ideas about the name’s origin. He said that Diapensia came from the Greek word “sanicle”. Sanicle is a unique type of flowering plant.

Where Does Diapensia Grow?

The best place for growing Diapensia is the rocky ridges. You can find Diapensia more often above the tree line in the high mountains. The place where it grows is free from snow for winds. When it comes to soil conditions, acidic soil is the optimum condition for growth.

Diapensia lapponica
Diapensia lapponica Source: wikipedia.org

However, the Himalayas is the common place where you will see it. Also, you will see this in the southwestern and northern China mountains. Besides, in Europe, it grows mainly in the south side.

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How Do You Identify Diapensia? [Appearance]

To identify the Diapensia plant, you must be familiar with the physical characteristics and appearance of the plant and every part. Here, I am mentioning the appearance and parts in detail:

  • Height: Diapensia is a short plant. The height of the plant ranges between 5-15 cm. If you look from a far distance, you will see these plants creeping on the ground.
  • Flower: The flower is commonly oval-shaped and appears with creamy white color. Each flower contains 5 petals. These 1-2 cm broad flowers bloom in June-August. Sometimes pink flowers are found, but it is rare.
  • Leaves:  Diapensia Contains shiny green leaves that densely appear from the base. The leaves are leathery more often and 1 cm long in size.

Diapensia Adaptations

This plant is used to adapt itself well to the surroundings for survival in its natural habitats. Here are a few of their adaptations:

  • Short Growth: The short growth of Diapensia gives advantages to fighting against the environment. The heavy wind can’t damage the plants.
  • Grows In Windy Places: As it grows in windy places, the snow can’t stay longer in contact with the plant.
  • Mat Formation: Many Diapensia plants grow together and form cushions or mats. The thick mat forming is good for retaining heat. The cushion maintains the inner temperature optimum for plant adaptations that helps in winter mostly. Also, the winds go smoothly over the cushions.
  • Photosynthesis: Green leaves are the most important factor in growing the plant. They start the photosynthesis process instantly after finding a suitable temperature.
  • Slow growing: Diapensia plants are extremely slow growing. For this reason, it stays short for a whole lifetime. Being tall in the mountain zone is dangerous as it will be fully exposed to the wind.
  • Red Pigment: At an early age, the Diapensia plant contains leaves that have red pigment on them. For this reason, they can absorb ultraviolet rays and emit them as heat later.
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Diapensia Species

In the Diapensia Genus, there are a few species that are found in different regions. Diapensia obovata, Diapensia himalaica, and Diapensia wardii are the most common species. However, Diapensia Lapponica is the most famous and most found species all over the world.

In Asia and North America, the species Diapensia obovata is the common one. But this species is now known as Diapensia lapponica subsp. obovata.

Is Diapensia Edible?

Yes, Diapensia or Pincushion plants are edible. Mainly people eat the flowers of this plant. You can eat the flower raw or by mixing it with salad. Before eating or mixing it, remove the petals, as it is not an edible part.

However, the leaves can give a whole new flavor to the soup or salad. Moreover, you can eat the flowers and the leaves by cooking them in hot water. In Britain, this plant is famous as a food source.

Diapensia Taste

Diapensia usually tastes sweet. The sweet taste inspires people to eat it at least once in life.

The stem of the plant may have a woody taste. That’s why people don’t eat it much. But the leaves have a good flavor. Raw leaves may sometimes taste slightly sour.

What Animals Eat Diapensia?

Besides humans, many animals eat Diapensia as their food source. Mostly Deer, elk, mountain goats, and sheep eat this flowering plant. Also, small mammals and animals sometimes eat Diapensia.

Diapensia lapponica
Source: www.maine.gov

Moreover, Butterflies are fond of the flowers of this plant. You will see butterflies moving around the plant. Besides, this plant is on the top list for some birds also.

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Diapensia Usage

You can use the Diapensia plant in various ways. The best way is to use it in foods. You can use flowers and leaves in salad or as a food flavor in drinks like tea.

The best fact is that this plant contains aluminum. If you make ash from the leaves, you will get 16-27% aluminum from this. You can use this component further for many purposes.

What Did Native Americans Use Diapensia For?

The native Americans were the first to use this plant as a food source. At the very first, they ate the flowers with petals in them. Then later, they removed it as the petals didn’t taste good.

They used the dead Diapensia plant in many ways. One of the ways is to use it for firing. They dried the stems in sunlight for use for this purpose.

Is Diapensia a Medicinal Plant? Medicinal Use of Diapensia

Though it contains a small amount of nutritional value, it isn’t famous for medicinal use. Diapensia normally grows on low-nutrition soil. That’s why it doesn’t contain many components that can help for medicinal purposes.


When do Diapensia flowers bloom?

Generally, Diapensia flowers bloom in summer and late summer. June to August is the optimum time for the blooming of Diapensia. Different regions’ flowers bloom at different times, though.

Can you grow Diapensia at home?

Yes, you can plant and grow Diapensia at home. This plant blooms beautiful flowers. Planting it in the garden will increase the garden’s beauty. But make sure that your plant gets winds and partial sun.


Diapensia plants grow mainly in alpine regions. Besides, you can grow it in your garden also. The flowers are so beautiful that they can attract butterflies or other birds. The edible parts have a few components that can benefit your health. However, there are no valid sources of the medicinal use of this plant, but it can slightly help in some illnesses.

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