A taste of Finse

Submitted by Hoy on Sun, 07/22/2012 - 03:03

Finse is a railway station situated on the highest pass between Bergen and Oslo at 1222m. The line between Bergen and Oslo wasn't completed till 1909 in a difficult terrain with about 100km in the alpine zone. The highest point is at 1237m.

Now it is hotels and other lodges here and also a research station. A small trail used by cyclists follow the railway. It is very popular and much visited by all kind of people, also families with children.

Last week (16.7.-20.7.2012) I stayed at the research station with other teachers on a alpine geology and ecology course. As you can see from the pics the spring is very late this year - several weeks behind the normal.

The weather was wet and gray the first days but improved. We went to the foot of the Hardangerjøkulen (Hardanger Glacier) a 75sq km glacier where parts of the epic "Star wars" was filmed. (Episode V, the planet Hoth). The glacier has receded the last years. The bedrock is granite overlaid by phylite and gneiss formed by the Caledonian orogeny and several ice ages.

When we investigated the north side of the valley the weather improved much.


Submitted by Hoy on Sun, 07/22/2012 - 03:47

Some plants from the moraines left by the receding Hardangerjøkulen:


Arabis alpina, Cassiope hypnoides, Saxifraga cespitosa


Rhodiola rosea, Salix glauca female and male.

Submitted by Toole on Sun, 07/22/2012 - 03:51

Wonderful images    :o  Hoy .

Cheers Dave

Submitted by Hoy on Sun, 07/22/2012 - 09:09

Thanks Dave, more to come ;)


The small hemiparasitic Euphrasia frigida grows in huge numbers. Maybe it parasite the "mouse ear" (Betula nana). Phyllodoce caerula is smaller than farther down. Cerastium alpinum grows among the rocks and the beautiful moth mountain burnet (Zygaena exulans) rests on a Salix glauca leaf.


Salix reticulata grows here. That means some lime in the soil. Another salix is S. myrsinites, usually found on moist rich soil. Oxyria digyna (tastes very good!) needs a little moisture too. The ubiquitous Saxifraga stellaris (syn Micranthes s.) tolerates very short seasons.

Submitted by Hoy on Sun, 07/22/2012 - 09:23

The other side of the valley is warmer (southfacing) and the soil is better - where soil exists! A constant trickle of moisture from the lingering snowdrifts higher up provide water and nutrient washed out of the weathering shale and phylite.


We find some of the same plants but they are usually much larger like the Rhodiola rosea. Some of the specimens are female (with red carpels) and some are male (the yellow ones). Saxifraga rivularis likes moisture!


Salix reticulata also has separate sexes and it id easy to see why it is called reticulata! Another sax grows here in moist places shaded from sun: Saxifraga cernua. The small Minuartia bifolia is easy to overlook.

Submitted by Hoy on Sun, 07/22/2012 - 09:39


Orchids are rather rare in Norway but we have a few like the parasitic Corallorhiza trifida and the photosynthesizing Coeloglossum viride They are small though. The turf on the steep slope is strewn by Viola bifolia and we can't avoid trampling on some. Silene acaulis is very common here.


Viscaria alpina is common too but needs heavy metals (copper) in the soil. Saxifrage adscendens prefere drier habitats. Two of the three fleabanes occurring here are difficult to separate but one is more hairy, Erigeron uniflorus and E. eriocephalus.

Submitted by Lori S. on Sun, 07/22/2012 - 12:42

A very interesting trip, Trond, and what excellent photos! 

Submitted by cohan on Sun, 07/22/2012 - 13:41

Great spot- nice place to spend some time, and cool that it has facilities.
Love all the plants- willows are especially nice  ;D
You know, I never realised that the Rhodiola have different sex plants with different colours! Is that common in other spp too?

Submitted by RickR on Sun, 07/22/2012 - 16:13

Super place, Trond!  It is always so foreign to me to see winter snow on the ground while lakes are already thawing.  That NEVER happens here!  you took so many interesting photos.  Those erigerons are darling!

I always love to see the entire plants (not just the flowers) and that extends to both male and females too, when applicable.  Thanks for showing them!

Submitted by Hoy on Mon, 07/23/2012 - 04:00

Thanks so far, Lori, Cohan and Rick! However, it is a bit more . . . . . .


Dryas octopetala is rather common in this area and covers vast areas on the phylite and shale. Oxytropis lapponica is common together with the Dryas. Pinguicula vulgaris grows on moister soils. Antennaria dioica and the rather similar A alpina prefer drier ground.


Other plants are Saxifraga nivalis, not very showy, but interesting,  and the showiest of all: Veronica fruticans.

Submitted by Hoy on Mon, 07/23/2012 - 04:16

I think you will know all the plants in the following photos now!



Submitted by Hoy on Mon, 07/23/2012 - 04:26

More plants!


Astragalus alpinus and Gentiana nivalis - not fully open in the cool weather.. The dandelion, Taraxacum, sp, does belong here naturally. Although many forms are weeds, the montane forms are not weedy.


A bleak form of Saxifraga oppositifolia. Along the railway somebody have spread seed of Papaver nudicaule, a foreigner which seems to like the gravelly site.

Submitted by Hoy on Mon, 07/23/2012 - 04:48

I have a new camera and am not familiar with it yet. Therefore the field of depth isn't always as good as it should be. Some flowers are even out of focus :-\


Primula scandinavica is not uncommon in the area. The third fleabane, Erigeron boreale. Pyrola norvegica is also common in the low alpine zone but difficult to picture! Parnassia palustris likes lime.


Draba norvegica, not as showy as the yellow pillow-forming ones! Oxytropis lapponica among rocks and a small Beckwithia glacialis near a melting snowdrift. Most of the species are still covered by snow.

Submitted by Hoy on Mon, 07/23/2012 - 04:59

I am not finished yet, sorry  ;D


Another small but very blue one, Veronica alpina. Myosotis decumbes is everywhere in moist soil. Potentilla crantzii is common from the seashore to the low alpine zone. The rest you already know.


Submitted by Hoy on Mon, 07/23/2012 - 05:09

One day we took the train down to the subalpine zone - 800-900m at Myrdal.


Myrdal views. Here the Flåmsbana (Flåm railway) goes down to the fjord. This is one of the steepest railways in Europe (5.6%). It is 20km long and 6km is in tunnels.


Here we find taller plants like Ranunculus platanifolius. Cornus suecica does grow on acidic soil. The fern Cryptogramma crispa likes crevices.

Submitted by Hoy on Mon, 07/23/2012 - 05:18

Last batch!


Omalotheca norvegica. Two hemiparasites: Melampyrum pratense and sylvaticum.


Bartsia alpina gets taller down here. Stellaria nemorum likes nutrient rich soil. Also Phyllodoce caerula grows bigger here.


Another fern, Phegopteris connectilis, and another small orchid, Listera cordata. The last plant is Cicerbita alpina, a bear favorite!

Submitted by deesen on Mon, 07/23/2012 - 13:16

Cracking set of pictures Trond.

Submitted by cohan on Tue, 07/24/2012 - 21:54

So many nice plants!
I like the white Pyrola- mostly pinks here.
Interesting about Parnassia palustris- common here in wettish, peaty  places which I would not think of as being  limey, but several of our wetland plants are supposed to like alkaline locations.....

Love all the blues- Veronicas and Cicerbitas!