Alpine Penny-cress

Latin Name: Noccaea caerulecens (previously Thlaspi caerulescens)

Family: Brassicaceae (Cabbage family)

In former lead mining areas, the soil is often rich in heavy metals and not all plants are able to grow in these conditions. However, the alpine pennycress is part of a group of plants called metallophytes, which can tolerate or actively accumulate heavy metals like lead, nickel or zinc from the soil.

Delicate in appearance, the alpine pennycress has white or purple flowers with violet anthers and heart-shaped seed pods.

Its distribution in the British Isles is very localised and is found mainly on the Pennine hills.

In the Yorkshire Dales National Park, alpine pennycress can be seen in flower between April and August on bare and sparsely grassed stony places in old lead mining areas. It may also be found on limestone near Malham in Malhamdale, in upper Wharfedale and at Ballowfield Local Nature Reserve in Wensleydale.

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There is a freshness and at times a undefineable fragrance to the air at high altitude in the Pennines. Joan E. Duncan & R.W.Robson

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