Lake Skadar’s Resurrection Plant

Today I found Ramonda serbica on a sheltered, small, north-facing cliff face on the south side of Lake Skadar along the winding road from Virpazar to Ostros. This plant is endemic to the southern Balkans and known as one of the few so called ‘resurrection plants’. This is the ability to dry out to a brown crisp during the hot dry summer and and then rehydrate and resume photosynthesis again in the wet autumn and winter and flower normally in the spring. This is what Rakić et al. say in the opening paragraph of their recent paper on the genus Ramonda in the journal, Frontiers of Plant Science (10 January 2014):

“Paleoendemic species of the monophyletic genus Ramonda (R. myconiR. serbica and R. nathaliae) are the remnants of the Tertiary tropical and subtropical flora in Europe. They are the rare resurrection plants of Northern Hemisphere temperate zone.”

So these are montane plants that enjoyed the sub-tropical Tertiary and then during the Glacial Age only survived in lowland gorges and ravines where the climate was sufficiently stable, mild and humid. The north-facing cliffs and ravines along the southern edge of Lake Skadar are therefore perhaps an important refuge.

Resurrection 408

Ramonda serbica sheltered on a north-facing cliff ledge above Lake Skadar.

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