Botanical walk on Kullaberg
Follow the ’Kullaleden’ trail markings from Naturum Kullaberg along the southern trail down towards Mölle.
First, we hike towards Åkersberget, and then onwards over bare rocky outcrops, through a beautiful beech wood and on past a copse of juniper bushes to another bare-faced hilltop with views. We then continue through an oak shrubland rich in herbs, past Ransvik and on towards Solvik and Karl XII’s redoubt down in Mölle.
A beautiful scurvygrass herb, Cochlearia officinalis ssp. officinalis, is first spotted with its white aromatic flowers and kidney-shaped rosette. The plant was previously grown in cloister gardens and was used as a cure for scurvy – a disease caused by a lack of vitamin C – quite common amongst sailors. The taste is similar to cress, and the leaves containing mustard oil can be eaten fresh in e.g. salads.
A wonderful sea of flowering wood anemone, Anemone nemorosa, spreads out before us. As a rule, the wood anemone has 6-7 white tepals, which may be a purplish colour underneath. It is often just the one plant that has created all these flowering specimens.
Honeysuckle, Lonicera periclymenum, which means ’embracing’ grows its green egg-shaped leaves, blue-green underneath, in sunny spots early in the springtime. Honeysuckle is a clockwise-winding liana, and has a wonderful fragrant scent especially in the evening.
Wood sorrel, Oxalis acetosella, grows on the ground in birch groves. The white flowers can be eaten, just like the leaves, which are bitter and good to chew on. Warning! Since the plants contain oxalic acid they may harm your kidneys. Wood sorrel leaves fold up in the dark and in strong sunshine. The flower itself closes up in the evening or if bad weather is approaching.
Downy birch, Betula pubescens, dominates this area. Pubescens means soft down and refers to the young shoots. The leaves are oval with a rounded base and the leaf edge is finely toothed. The bark of the downy birch, in contrast to the silver birch, is a little rough on the outside. Many trees have a good many witches’ brooms on their branches. Witches’ broom is caused by the fungus Taphrina betulina, which overwinters in the tree’s buds.
Small beautiful examples of hairy wood-rush, Luzula pilosa, are in flower by the copse of juniper bushes. The plant belongs to the rush family, Juncaceae, and usually flowers early in the spring. Pilosa means hairy and refers to the long hairs which sit on the edge of the leaf. The leaf remains green throughout the winter.
A tough Austrian pine, Pinus nigra, is eye catching high up on a rocky outcrop. Austrian pines were planted all over western Kullaberg from the 1860s. These pines can reach heights of up to 30m and have needles in pairs. They are rigid, tall, straight and dark green. Huge numbers of this non-domestic species of pine were destroyed during the November storm in 1981. The remains of its mighty stumps can be seen in a number of places.
We now approach a coniferous grove rich in herbs with sweet violet, corydalis, yellow archangel and lesser celandine. A wonderful scent of violets comes from the dark violet flowers of the sweet violet, Viola odorata – odorata means fragrant.
Fumewort, Corydalis intermedia, also grows here with its brittle stem and clustered dark purple flowers.
Perhaps the moist humus soil is calciferous because so many yellow archangels, Lamiastrum galeobdolon are thought to thrive here. Up to eight beautiful yellow flowers sit in a whorl. The silver-white flecks are eye catching on the evergreen leaf.
Lesser celandine, Ranunculus ficaria, is plentiful here. The species name means fig och refers to the roots which resemble small figs and act as storage for next year’s nutriments. Propagation occurs through bulbils found in the leaf axil. Ranunculus means ’little frog’ referring to the fact that many species of this family grow in moist areas. The beautiful yellow flowers of the lesser celandine are at their brightest when the swallows return.
Just before Ransvik we find a large population of dog’s mercury, Mercurialis perennis. It belongs to the spurge family, Euphorbiaceae, and is a dioecious plant i.e. with male and female flower on separate plants. Take a look at a hundred crown note – you can see Carl von Linné’s own drawing of dog’s mercury.
Soon we arrive at the parking in Ransvik where there is a strong smell of garlic in the distance. We find a thick carpet of wild garlic, Allium ursinum, by the gully. Note that the petiole has rotated one-half turn. In the springtime, these green, fresh leaves can be eaten raw in e.g. salads