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Mountain Avens

Dryas octopetala

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Rosaceae (Rose)
Also in this family:
Acute Leaf-lobed Lady's-mantle, Alpine Cinquefoil, Alpine Lady's-mantle, Ampfield Cotoneaster, Arran Service Tree, Arran Whitebeam, Barren Strawberry, Bastard Agrimony, Bastard Service Tree, Bearberry Cotoneaster, Bird Cherry, Blackthorn, Bloody Whitebeam, Bramble, Bristol Whitebeam, Broad-leaved Whitebeam, Broadtooth Lady's-mantle, Bronze Pirri-pirri-bur, Bullace Plum, Bullate Cotoneaster, Burnet Rose, Catacol Whitebeam, Caucasian Lady's-mantle, Cheddar Whitebeam, Cherry Laurel, Cherry Plum, Chinese Photinia, Cloudberry, Clustered Lady's-mantle, Common Agrimony, Common Hawthorn, Common Lady's-mantle, Common Medlar, Common Ninebark, Common Whitebeam, Crab Apple, Creeping Chinese Bramble, Creeping Cinquefoil, Crimean Lady's-mantle, Cultivated Apple, Cultivated Pear, Cut-leaved Blackberry, Damson, Devon Whitebeam, Dewberry, Diel's Cotoneaster, Dog Rose, Doward Whitebeam, Dropwort, Elm-leaved Bramble, English Whitebeam, Entire-leaved Cotoneaster, False Salmonberry, Field Rose, Firethorn, Fodder Burnet, Fragrant Agrimony, Franchet's Cotoneaster, Garden Lady's-mantle, Garden Strawberry, Giant Meadowsweet, Glaucous Dog Rose, Goatsbeard Spiraea, Gough's Rock Whitebeam, Great Burnet, Greengage Plum, Grey-leaved Whitebeam, Hairless Lady's-mantle, Hairy Lady's-mantle, Hautbois Strawberry, Himalayan Blackberry, Himalayan Cotoneaster, Himalayan Whitebeam, Hoary Cinquefoil, Hollyberry Cotoneaster, Hupeh Rowan, Hybrid Cinquefoil, Hybrid Geum, Irish Whitebeam, Japanese Cherry, Japanese Quince, Japanese Rose, Jew's Mallow, Juneberry, Lancaster Whitebeam, Late Cotoneaster, Least Lady's-mantle, Least Whitebeam, Leigh Woods Whitebeam, Ley's Whitebeam, Liljefor's Whitebeam, Littleleaf Cotoneaster, Llangollen Whitebeam, Llanthony Whitebeam, Lleyn Cotoneaster, Loganberry, Many-flowered Rose, Margaret's Whitebeam, Marsh Cinquefoil, Meadowsweet, Midland Hawthorn, Mougeot's Whitebeam, Mountain Ash, Mountain Sibbaldia, Moupin's Cotoneaster, No Parking Whitebeam, Ocean Spray, Orange Whitebeam, Pale Bridewort, Pale Lady's-mantle, Parsley Piert, Pirri-pirri-bur, Plymouth Pear, Portuguese Laurel, Purple-flowered Raspberry, Quince, Raspberry, Rock Cinquefoil, Rock Lady's-mantle, Rock Whitebeam, Round-leaved Dog Rose, Round-leaved Whitebeam, Rum Cherry, Russian Cinquefoil, Salad Burnet, Sargent's Rowan, Scannell's Whitebeam, Service Tree, Sharp-toothed Whitebeam, Sherard's Downy Rose, Shining Lady's-mantle, Ship Rock Whitebeam, Short-styled Rose, Shrubby Cinquefoil, Silver Lady's-mantle, Silverweed, Slender Parsley Piert, Slender-spined Bramble, Small-flowered Sweetbriar, Small-leaved Sweetbriar, Soft Downy Rose, Somerset Whitebeam, Sorbaria, Sour Cherry, Southern Downy Rose, Southern Lady's-mantle, Spineless Acaena, Spring Cinquefoil, St. Lucie's Cherry, Steeplebush, Stern's Cotoneaster, Stirton's Whitebeam, Stone Bramble, Sulphur Cinquefoil, Swedish Service Tree, Swedish Whitebeam, Sweet Briar, Symond's Yat Whitebeam, Tengyueh Cotoneaster, Thimbleberry, Thin-leaved Whitebeam, Tibetan Cotoneaster, Tormentil, Trailing Tormentil, Tree Cotoneaster, Trefoil Cinquefoil, Twin-cliffs Whitebeam, Two-spined Acaena, Wall Cotoneaster, Water Avens, Waterer's Cotoneaster, Waxy Lady's-mantle, Welsh Cotoneaster, Welsh Whitebeam, White Burnet, White's Whitebeam, White-stemmed Bramble, Wild Cherry, Wild Pear, Wild Plum, Wild Service Tree, Wild Strawberry, Willmott's Whitebeam, Willow-leaved Bridewort, Willow-leaved Cotoneaster, Wineberry, Wood Avens, Wye Whitebeam, Yellow-flowered Strawberry
Evergreen shrub
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
50 centimetres tall
Grassland, mountains, rocky places, seaside.

White, 8 petals
Solitary flowers which are stalked (3 to 10cm in length). Usually 8 petals (sometimes 7 to 10). At the centre of the flower are many golden yellow stamens. Flowers are each 4cm in diameter. Pollinated by insects.
The fruit is a nutlet, attached is a long feathery plume.
A low-growing, prostrate, mat-forming undershrub with dark green, oak-like leaves. The undersides of the leaves are downy white. The upper surfaces are smooth and hairless. The stems are woody. Grows on limestone soils in rocky, mountainous places.
Other Names:
Alaskan Mountain-avens, Creeping Oak, Eightpetal Mountain-avens, Hooker's Mountain-avens, White Dryad, White Dryas.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Dryas octopetala, also known as mountain avens or white dryas, is a perennial plant that is native to Europe and Asia. It belongs to the rose family and is known for its small, white flowers and evergreen leaves. Dryas octopetala is a low-growing plant that is often found in alpine or arctic areas. It is easy to grow and is tolerant of a wide range of soil types and climates. Dryas octopetala prefers full sun and is drought-tolerant once established. The plant is generally hardy and low maintenance, but it can be prone to pests such as aphids and slugs. Dryas octopetala is also known for its medicinal properties and has been used traditionally to treat a variety of ailments. However, more research is needed to fully understand its effects and to determine the safety and effectiveness of using it medicinally.


Mountain Avens, also known as Dryas octopetala, is a beautiful and hardy perennial plant that is native to the high altitudes of the northern hemisphere. This plant is well-suited to rocky or gravelly soils and can be found growing in alpine meadows, tundra, and on mountain slopes.

The name "Dryas" comes from the Greek word for "oak," and "octopetala" means "eight-petaled," referring to the eight petals on each flower. The flowers of Mountain Avens are small and white, with a yellow center. They are arranged in clusters on the end of each stem and bloom from June to August.

One of the most unique features of Mountain Avens is its ability to grow in extremely harsh conditions. It is able to survive in temperatures as low as -40 degrees Celsius and can tolerate prolonged drought and high winds. This is possible due to the thick mat of roots that the plant has, which allows it to gather moisture and nutrients from the soil even in the driest of conditions.

Mountain Avens is also known for its medicinal properties. It has been used traditionally to treat a variety of ailments, including wounds, burns, and stomach issues. Its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties make it a useful herb for treating skin conditions and infections.

In addition to its medicinal properties, Mountain Avens also has ornamental value. It is a popular choice for rock gardens and alpine gardens due to its low-growing habit and hardy nature. It can also be used as a ground cover or as a border plant.

Overall, Mountain Avens is a versatile and hardy plant that is well-suited to a variety of growing conditions. Its beauty and medicinal properties make it a valuable addition to any garden, and its ability to thrive in harsh conditions make it an ideal choice for those looking for a low-maintenance plant.

Mountain Avens is also known for its ecological importance. It is a keystone species in alpine and arctic ecosystems, providing important food and habitat for a variety of animals. Its thick mat of roots helps to stabilize the soil and prevent erosion in these fragile environments.

In addition, Mountain Avens is a long-lived plant, with some specimens living for over a century. This longevity is another important aspect of its ecological role in these harsh environments, as it helps to maintain the integrity of the ecosystem over time.

Another interesting fact about Mountain Avens is that it is considered a "relic species." This means that it is a remnant of a much larger population that existed during a previous geological period. The fact that it still exists today is a testament to its hardiness and adaptability.

If you're interested in growing Mountain Avens in your garden, it is important to note that it prefers well-drained soils and full sun to partial shade. It can be propagated by division or by seed, but it may take several years for seedlings to reach maturity and begin blooming.

Another aspect of Mountain Avens worth mentioning is its cultural significance. Many indigenous peoples of the northern hemisphere have used this plant for centuries, and it holds deep spiritual and cultural significance for them. For example, the Inuit people of Alaska have used the roots and leaves of Mountain Avens for medicinal purposes and have also woven its leaves into baskets, bags, and clothing. Similarly, the Sami people of northern Europe have used the plant to treat wounds, burns and stomach problems and also used it as a food source.

Furthermore, the plant is also an indicator of the Arctic tundra, one of the most fragile ecosystems on Earth. Climate change is causing the Arctic tundra to warm, which is having a detrimental effect on the tundra ecosystem and the plants and animals that live there. Mountain Avens is one of the species that is most sensitive to this change and thus, it can help us understand the impacts of climate change on the Arctic.

In conclusion, Mountain Avens is not only a beautiful and hardy plant, but also holds deep cultural and ecological significance. It is a keystone species in alpine and arctic ecosystems, it is a long-lived plant, it has medicinal properties and ornamental value, and it is a relic of the past. It is also an indicator of the Arctic tundra, and it can help us understand the impacts of climate change on these fragile ecosystems. It's a plant worth knowing and appreciating.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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