Mountain Avens (Dryas Octopetala)-A Beautiful Gift of the Nature

Mountain avens are evergreen, perennial, and cushion-forming plants. They can’t grow in warm weather and only adapt to cold climates. Also, this plant has many medicinal benefits.

Are you getting curious to know more about mountain avens? Then keep reading as I will discuss its growth, growth rate, lifespan, habitats, unique adaptations, edibility, taste, and uses throughout the article.

Mountain Avens at a Glance

ParametersDetails
Scientific nameDryas octopetala
Plant typePerennial
Height5 cm -20 cm
Width60 cm -90 cm
Leaf colorGreen
Flower colorCreamy white
Blooming seasonLater spring, early summer
Soil typeSand, loam, well-drained
Soil pHSlightly alkaline
WateringLow to moderate
Sun exposureFull sun
UseGarden cover, medicinal use, herbal tea

What is Mountain Avens?

Mountain Avens are mat-forming or semi-shrubs flowering plants that you may find in mountain areas. This flowering plant belongs to the rose family Rosaceae.

This plant belongs to the genus Dryas. The word “Dryas” came from the Greek mythology’s wood nymph “Dryad.” According to Greek mythology, Dryad used to live in the oak. Somehow, the leaves of mountain avens also look similar to the oak leaves.

The most familiar species of mountain avens is octopetala. Here, octopetala is a Greek word where “octo” refers to eight and “petala” refers to petals. That means the white flower of this Mountain Avens plant has eight petals. Generally, in the family Rosacea, most of the plants have flowers of five petals. From this viewpoint, mountain avens are exceptional.

Why Is It Called Mountain Avens: Mountain Avens Flower Meaning

Due to its appearance and habitat, people call it mountain avens. They look like avens visually and also grow in mountain regions.

Mountain Avens flower

Do you know what “avens” mean? It refers to the plants of the rose family that contain small hooks and divided and serrated leaves. Mountain avens have small creeping stems with small horizontal branches. Plus, the leaves are also small and divided.

However, they can grow well in loose, sloppy mountain grounds. Thus, they look like the “avens” group of the family Rosaceae and also survive well naturally in mountain areas called Mountain Avens.

Where Do Mountain Avens Grow?

This flowering plant has a circumpolar distribution and can grow in a wide range of territory.  Mountain avens is mainly an Arctic-alpine flowering plant.

You find this plant in alpine meadows and barren and rocky slopes of mountains. They generally grow in rocky and cascade mountains of the Yukon, Alaska, and the Northwest Territories. Furthermore, they are also widespread in western Canada and the UK.

Though you can find them in different areas of the globe, their growing conditions are similar. As Arctic alpine wildflower plants, they only can grow in cold weather. Mountain Avens requires a hardiness range of 3-6. Or else it will be difficult for them to survive.

In suitable hardiness, they grow in gritty, fast-draining, and alkaline soil. This plant can’t bear the standing water. If the ground isn’t well-drained, the root of mountain avens will rot with time. Besides, you will find them generally in calcareous and shallow soil.

How Do the Mountain Avens Survive In The Arctic?

Mountain avens survive in the Arctic through their specialized adaptations to the Arctic climate. Among those numerous adaptations, their heliotropism is the most substantial for their survival in the Arctic.

First, you need to know what heliotropism in a plant is! The word heliotropism came from an ancient Greek word. In this word, “helio” refers to the “sun,” and “tropism” indicates the turning or bending of the plants towards or against the light or heat. The mountain avens plant shows heliotropism towards the sun.

Throughout the whole summer, the plants bend in such a way that the flowers always face the sun. This type of activity ensures a consistently elevated temperature inside the flower. Eventually, it helps them to keep their body temperature warm in the harsh cold weather.

Is The Mountain Avens Endangered?

Generally, the mountain aven isn’t endangered. But, in a few regions, several variants of mountain aven are threatened or at risk of endangerment.

Mountain avens usually grow in harsh arctic-alpine climates and also in Rocky Mountains. Only a few adventurous mountaineers or hikers visit those places. Thus, urban development doesn’t impact these plants’ territory.

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But, a few variants, such as eastern mountain avens, are endangered. Their natural habitats in Canada and Nova Scotia declined due to urbanization, woody vegetation, nesting gulls, artificial drainage, and vehicles. Now, you can’t find them in the wild. In a few natural reservation lands, only 9000 individuals are alive now.

Is Mountain Avens A Perennial?

Yes. Mountain avens are perennial. That means they have a longer lifespan.

Perennial plants are those plants that live longer than the average lifespan of a usual plant. There are multiple reasons behind mountain avens being perennial. The first one is their adaptations to arctic-alpine weather. That’s why the harsh winter of arctic regions can’t reduce the longevity of this plant.

Moreover, the number of predators of this plant is also less. Due to their almost inaccessible or difficult-to-reach habitats, they have a lesser threat from predators than any other plants. Therefore, mountain avens live for a more extended period.

What Do Mountain Avens Look Like?

You can find mountain avens generally in shrubs, semi-shrubs, or mat-forming forms. It mainly depends on the variants of this genus.

Mountain Avens leaves

Mountain avens are evergreen plants. That means the leaves of this plant don’t die throughout the year. Yet, semi-evergreen versions of these plants are also available. Generally, the leaves of this plant remain green during the whole winter season. But, in the spring, new leaves start to come.

That is why the old green leaves start reducing, and new leaves start taking their places. Also, the Wax layer above the leaves makes it glossy and has a fine hair layer beneath those green leaves.

This plant has eye-catching white flowers of a saucer shape with yellow in the middle. Usually, mountain avens have creamy white eight petals. This herb looks more beautiful in its blooming season, which ranges from late spring to early summer.

How Big Do Mountain Avens Get?

This plant is a short-growing plant. Thus, it can reach up to a height of 15 cm.

Though the height can’t exceed more than approximately 8 inches, it can spread in width. It can even grow up to 3 feet wide. Generally, this mountain avens plant is capable of covering ground within a very short time.

Initially, the growth rate remained gradual. But, after some time, they start growing faster when they cope well with the soil condition. Yet, they can’t cross the height level. However, they keep spreading in width and can form a dense cover of ground.

Mountain Avens Adaptations

This wildflower plant adapted to survive in the harsh cold weather of its natural habitats. A few of their adaptations are:

  • Waxy small leaves

The leaf size of this plant is very tiny, and it also has a wax layer above the leaves. This small size and a waxy coating of leaves prevent evaporation and transmission through the leaves.

The reduced evaporation rate helps them to retain water content and moisture. This prevents the dryness of the plant in cold weather.

  • Ground hugging growth

Mountain avens grow near the ground. That’s why the effect of harsh and powerful cold winds is less in these types of plants than in any other larger plants.

  • Reflective White petals

Mountain avens have highly reflective white petals. These petals catch the solar radiation that comes from the sun. This is one of the mandatory functions to survive in those cold regions.

  • Parabolic flower shape

The parabolic shape of the flower helps to reflect the sunlight to its sexual organ. Thus, the sexual organ part remains warm.

  • Heliotropism

The plant turns its body according to the moving sun. This ensures the obtainability of adequate solar energy.

  • Pollination

The solar energy that the plant absorbs warms up the center of the flower. For this, the central part of the flower becomes a suitable and appropriate place for insects to rest.

These insects are pollinators. When they move to another flower, the pollination of the flower occurs.

  • Faster Germination

The high warmth in the center of the flower helps in seed growth and germination. The rate couldn’t be that fast without the increased temperature.

Therefore, germination takes place very soon, before winter appears. Otherwise, the arrival of winter will slow down everything.

  • Feathery hairs in the seedhead
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The primary function of these hairs is to disperse in the seed with the wind. Initially, those hairs are entangled together, and then they become like spread balls. This makes the seed dispersion easier.

How Fast Do the Mountain Avens Grow?

Mountain avens are quite a slow-growing plant. As it grows gradually, it is capable of living a longer lifetime.

Mountain Avens adaptation

Generally, the germination process of this plant takes almost two months to one year. After the germination, they need alkaline, properly drained soil for their further growth.

Interestingly, this growth rate depends on its habitats. In some regions, sun exposure is adequate throughout the year. Thus, mountain avens can grow fast. But, also, in some parts of the arctic, the sunlight available is lower than adequacy. In this case, the growth will be disturbed.

How Long Do Mountain Avens Live?

The longevity of mountain avens depends on the surrounding circumstances. But generally, they can live up to almost 100 years.

People term mountain avens as perennial plants. It has a longer lifespan than any other plant due to its high adaptability and fewer predators. But climate change can affect its longevity.

As I said before, mountain avens need a sufficient amount of sun exposure for survival. But, due to climate change, the winter season is getting longer and colder, and the summer season is becoming shorter in the arctic region. That’s why the days are also getting shorter. In this case, this flowering plant can’t get the adequate sunlight that is essential for them.

Due to the insufficient exposure to the sun, their coping ability with the harsh cold weather faded. This reduces their vitality, and they die before 100 years. But, in normal circumstances, it will live up to a hundred years.

How Much Sun Does Mountain Avens Need?

Mountain avens need full sun for their proper growth. Without full sun exposure, this plant won’t survive.

Mountain avens need to keep their body warm in the cold weather. That’s why they adapted to moving their body to face the sun all day.

In this way, the sunlight reflects on the flower’s parabolic surface and reflects. This reflection of sunlight keeps their sexual organ warm, which is essential for their reproduction.

Also, if you plant them in some place where the sunlight doesn’t reach properly, they can’t keep functioning their body-warming mechanism. That’s why full or partial shade is completely Unsuitable and inappropriate for planting mountain avens.

Are Mountain Avens Edible?

Yes. Mountain avens are edible. There are different uses for different parts of this plant.

Generally, you can use leaves of the mountain avens for making tea. It’s not only tasty but also has several herbal benefits. Besides, you can use the roots of this plant as a flavoring or seasoning agent for your soup or any recipe.

Moreover, you can even eat this plant’s flower or leaves, or roots as an astringent or antimicrobial. That means mountain avens are not only edible but also have effective health benefits.

Mountain Avens Taste

Taste varies slightly according to which part you are creating. Generally, this herb tastes almost like cloves.

If you taste a mountain avens, you will feel an astringent taste on your tongue. But, sometimes, it may taste sweet and woody to you. Why so?

Generally, people eat the root and leaves of this plant. The fresh part of this plate has a bitter, acidic, and astringent taste. But, those parts of this plant will start to taste sweet with the passing of time.

What Is Mountain Avens Used For?

There are many uses for mountain Avens. Some of those are:

  • Stabilize the ground: Mountain Avens can grow well on loose grounds. The root of this plant spreads beneath the ground and locks soil in place. Thus, it blocks the movement of loose ground and makes it more stable.
  • Ground cover: You can use this plant as a ground cover with other flowering plants. It will enhance the visual of your garden.
  • Nitrogen fixer: You can use mountain avens as a nitrogen fixer. Several bacteria on their roots convert the free nitrogen of the atmosphere into ammonia. After that, they absorb that ammonia which is very influential for the mountain avens’ growth.
  • Food forest: This wild flowering plant plays an essential role in forest ecosystems.
  • Beverages: Another familiar use is in several beverage industries. There, you can find that they are boiling the roots of this plant for making a beverage.
  • Dye: You can use this plant to make dyes, mainly green dye. You can use the seed and flower of this flowering plant to make the dark green dye.
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What Animals Eat Mountain Avens?

Not a lot of animals eat this plant. If I say clearly, only a few animals can access the mountain avens territory.

Some arctic animals that can survive the adverse weather of the arctic-alpine areas eat this plant. Some of them are:

  • Arctic sheep
  • Arctic deer
  • Least chipmunk
  • Noctuid moth larva etc.

What Did Native Americans Use Mountain Avens For?

Native Americans call mountain avens isuramuat. They used this plant for:

  • Alternative to cinnamon: Native Americans used mountain avens as an alternative to cinnamon. The reason is the root of this plant serves the same flavor and seasoning attributes similar to cinnamon.
  • Flavoring: They used the root of these plants in their soup to enrich the flavor of their soup.
  • Tea: Native Americans use its leaves to make one kind of effective tea. This tea is exceptionally beneficial for health.
  • Antidiarrheal: It can enhance digestive enzymes and removes bloating and gas. That’s why Native Americans were fond of it for treating complications of their gastrointestinal problems.
  • Remove toothache: They also used this plant to relieve their toothache. Typically, it removes the complications of teeth as it contains antibacterial agents.

Is Mountain Avens a Medicinal Plant? Medicinal Use of Mountain Avens

Mountain avens has numerous uses for medicinal purposes due to their medicinal properties. Those are:

  1. Stomach tonic

Stomach pain is common when there is difficulty in digestion. This plant is utilized to make a remedy that acts as a stomach tonic. 

It will soothe your irritable stomach and slow digestion. Besides, it will also reduce your gas and blotting problems as well.

  • Treating gingivitis

Mountain Avens contains antibacterial components which kill harmful bacteria in the mouth. By increasing the blood flow to the soft tissues of the gum, it accelerates wound healing. Therefore, it will repair impaired tissue with formed blood cells in the blood.

  • Cure digestive system

It will also facilitate your digestion by stimulating your appetite. Consequently, it helps faster digestion of food. Yet it calms active digestion.

  • Cure disorders of the mouth and throat

Since it has anti-bacterial components, it eliminates viruses and germs in the mouth. This will save you from a variety of illnesses. Moreover, mountain avens can also help eliminate your throat’s allergy.

  • For better skin health

Mountain avens have a unique functional role in skin improvement. A decoction of its roots will help to remove your acne scars by making natural serum on the face. Not only that, but surprisingly it will also remove your age spots.

  • Maintaining the health of the liver

This plant assists in stimulating detoxification in the body by removing toxins from the liver. It will keep the liver healthy and improve your body’s condition.

  • Acts as an antidote

Heavy metals may cause some poison to your body, and this herbal plant acts as an anti-dotes of some poison. Therefore, if you have heavy metal poisoning, the medicine made from the roots of this plant will consume it.

FAQs:

1. Is the Mountain Avens poisonous?

No. Mountain avens aren’t poisonous. Instead, they are very beneficial. This plant is edible for both humans and animals. If you can collect these plants, you can use them as herbal remedies for multiple diseases.

2. What is an Aven flower?

Aven flowers refer to the group of flowers of the rose family. This type of flower has a distinguishing feature of short stems. Also, their leaves have separated and serrated forms.

3. Can I grow mountain avens at home?

It depends on the weather in your surroundings. If you live in a warm place, it’s impossible for you to grow this plant at home. This plant will only grow in cold weather and well-drained, gritty, or loose soil.

Conclusion

Mountain avens are one of the most eye-catching flowers in the world. It is the national flower in Iceland.

Mainly, you can find this flowering plant in abundance in the wild. But, if you want to plant them in a garden, you have to maintain similar conditions identical to their natural habitats.

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