Propagation and Spread of Plants

In view of the unfavourable living conditions at alpine levels, the plants live under continuous stress: here only those species can assert themselves that manage to spread, proliferate and develop suitable strategies.
The dominant plant communities of the higher alpine regions are not very spectacular forming extensive dense patches of sedge, grasses and rushes with inconspicuous flowers. Therefore plants with brilliantly coloured flowers are conspicuous among the dense growth of plants. How can alpine plants flower immediately after snow-melt?
In view of the brief period of vegetation, the groundwork for flowering must have been completed in autumn. Plants generally proliferate by forming seeds.

For this purpose of proliferation the male sex cells (pollen) have to fertilize the egg in the female ovary. The transfer of pollen (pollination) can be achieved through animals (mainly insects: flies, bumble-bees, bees, butterflies) or through the wind. Wind pollinated plants must produce a large number of pollen to assure fertilization (examples: Fir - Pinus sp, Hazel - Corylus avellana. Individual plants in the alpine regions frequently live in isolation.
Insects looking for food therefore only find their pollen and nectar in plants with conspicuous colours and large flowers. When flowers are visited, pollen becomes attached to the insects and is thus transferred to the next flower.
The chances of fertilization are, however, generally slim. Therefore many mountain plants have become independent of animal pollinators and rely on self-fertilization (e.g. Saxifraga aizoides or Vaccinium myrtillus) or more frequently vegetative proliferation. They form large stolons, breeding bulbs instead of flowers, root shoots or daughter shoots. Particularly with grass-like plants (sedge, grasses and reeds, which, from a quantitative point of view, make up the main vegetation of the alpine regions) this is the most wide-spread form of proliferation and expansion strategy.

Propagation and Spread of Plants