Iceland Mag

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Iceland Mag

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The war on the lupine plant continues around Iceland

By Magnús Sveinn Helgason

  • magical moss The graymoss in Eldhraun is under threat from the advance of invasive lupine fields. Photo/Vilhelm

Nature conservation activists are working hard at destroying the lupine plant alongside the ring road through Eldhraun lava field in Southern Iceland, near the town of Kirkjubæjarklaustur.

A critical new theatre in an ongoing war
The goal is to protect the distinctive woolly moss, known in Icelandic as graymoss, which covers the lava. It is not least the luscious moss which gives the lava field its magical aura.

Snorri Baldursson, biologist and the chairman of the Icelandic Environment Association tells local newspaper Morgunblaðið that it appears someone has sown lupine alongside the road east of the river Brestur. He expects a full victory in the war on lupine east of the river Brestur. However, he fears that more drastic measures are needed to make headway on the western front in the Eldhraun-theatre. 

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Controversial plant A lupine field in full bloom. Photo/Valli

The lupine, although very beautiful while in bloom, and an important ally in stopping topsoil loss and combat erosion, is an invasive species in Iceland, threatening local plant life.

A useful ally and a dangerous invader
The Nootka lupine which grows in Iceland is not native to the country as it was imported from North America in 1945 to combat topsoil loss, which had been a serious problem since the 19th century. The lupine has a tendency to create monocultures which both prevent other plants from growing and can suffocate more delicate flora.

Although there are still large areas in Iceland which have been victims to erosion and desertification many feel the lupine has become too aggressive and needs to be stopped. It is especially feared that the lupine will spread into the Central highlands, permanently transforming the local flora.

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