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Rock Whitlowgrass

Draba norvegica

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Brassicaceae (Cabbage)
Also in this family:
Alpine Pennycress, Alpine Rock-cress, American Wintercress, Annual Wall Rocket, Austrian Yellowcress, Awlwort, Bastard Cabbage, Black Mustard, Bristol Rock-cress, Charlock, Common Scurvygrass, Common Whitlowgrass, Coralroot, Creeping Yellowcress, Cuckooflower, Dame's-violet, Danish Scurvygrass, Dittander, Early Wintercress, Eastern Rocket, English Scurvygrass, Evergreen Candytuft, False London Rocket, Field Pennycress, Field Pepperwort, Flixweed, Garden Arabis, Garden Candytuft, Garden Cress, Garden Radish, Garden Rocket, Garlic Mustard, Glabrous Whitlowgrass, Gold of Pleasure, Great Yellowcress, Greater Cuckooflower, Greater Periwinkle, Greater Swinecress, Hairy Bittercress, Hairy Rock-cress, Hairy Rocket, Hairy Whitlowgrass, Hedge Mustard, Hoary Cress, Hoary Mustard, Hoary Stock, Hoary Whitlowgrass, Honesty, Horseradish, Hutchinsia, Hybrid Watercress, Intermediate Periwinkle, Isle of Man Cabbage, Large Bittercress, Lesser Swinecress, London Rocket, Lundy Cabbage, Marsh Yellowcress, Mountain Scurvygrass, Narrow-fruited Watercress, Narrow-leaved Bittercress, Narrow-leaved Pepperwort, Northern Rock-cress, Northern Yellowcress, Oilseed Rape, Perennial Rocket, Perennial Wall Rocket, Perfoliate Pennycress, Pinnate Coralroot, Purple Rock-cress, Pyrenean Scurvygrass, Russian Rocket, Scottish Scurvygrass, Sea Kale, Sea Radish, Sea Rocket, Sea Stock, Shepherd's Cress, Shepherd's Purse, Small-flowered Wintercress, Smith's Pepperwort, Steppe Cabbage, Swede, Sweet Alyssum, Tall Rocket, Thale Cress, Tower Mustard, Treacle Mustard, Trefoil Cress, Turnip, Wall Whitlowgrass, Wallflower, Wallflower Cabbage, Warty Cabbage, Watercress, Wavy Bittercress, White Mustard, Wild Cabbage, Wild Candytuft, Wild Radish, Wild Turnip, Wintercress, Woad, Yellow Whitlowgrass
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
5 centimetres tall
Cliffs, mountains, rocky places.

White, 4 petals
The flower clusters consist of many tiny white flowers. The flowers have deeply cleft petals, more so than those of the similar looking Hoary Whitlowgrass (Draba incana).
Egg-shaped, flattened pods. Similar to Hoary Whitlowgrass but the pods are not twisted upon ripening.
A perennial species with short lanceolate, toothed leaves. Rock Whitlowgrass differs from the similar looking Hoary Whitlowgrass in that its stems are usually leafless and the leaves are stalked.
Other Names:
Norwegian Draba, Norwegian Whitlow Grass.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Draba norvegica is a species of flowering plant in the mustard family (Brassicaceae) known by the common names Norwegian draba and Norwegian whitlow grass. It is primarily a plant of arctic and subarctic habitats and is found in Minnesota only on an island in Lake Superior (North Shore Highlands). It is a perennial tufted herb of base-rich rocks, occurring on rock ledges, in crevices in cliffs, on consolidated scree, and in other bare sites. The species is polymorphic and can be mistaken for several other species. It has whispy stems carrying clusters of white flowers, held well above low-growing tufts of small, dark green leaves. It has a circum-polar distribution, occurring in Europe, North America, and Asia.


Rock Whitlowgrass (Draba norvegica) - A Hardy and Adaptable Alpine Plant

Rock Whitlowgrass is a low-growing, alpine plant that is widely distributed in mountainous regions of Europe, Asia and North America. Despite its small size, it is a hardy and adaptable species that can thrive in harsh and challenging environments.

The plant is a member of the Brassicaceae family, which also includes popular garden plants such as cabbages, cauliflowers, and mustard. It has a delicate appearance, with small leaves and delicate yellow flowers that bloom in early spring. The flowers are followed by small, round seed pods that are an important source of food for small mammals and birds.

One of the key adaptations of Rock Whitlowgrass is its ability to tolerate a wide range of soil types and conditions. It can grow on rocky outcrops, in alpine meadows, and on the margins of glaciers. It is also able to tolerate high levels of wind and exposure, making it an ideal plant for use in rock gardens and alpine plantings.

Despite its hardiness, Rock Whitlowgrass is also a delicate and attractive plant that adds a touch of beauty to any landscape. The small yellow flowers are an important source of nectar for early-season pollinators, making it a valuable addition to gardens and wildflower meadows. The delicate leaves and flowers also make it a popular choice for use in rock gardens, where it can be used to soften the hard edges of rocks and boulders.

In conclusion, Rock Whitlowgrass is a versatile and hardy alpine plant that is well-suited to a wide range of growing conditions. Whether you are planting in a rock garden, an alpine meadow, or in a wildflower bed, this plant is sure to bring a touch of beauty and resilience to your landscape.

In terms of propagation, Rock Whitlowgrass is easily grown from seed. The small seeds can be sown directly in the ground in the fall or spring, and they will germinate quickly. Once established, the plant is very low-maintenance and requires little care. It is also very drought tolerant, which makes it an ideal plant for use in rock gardens and xeriscapes.

In addition to its ornamental value, Rock Whitlowgrass also has a long history of use in traditional medicine. The plant's leaves and stems contain compounds that have been used to treat a variety of ailments, including wounds, skin irritations, and respiratory conditions. It is also believed to have anti-inflammatory properties and is sometimes used as a natural remedy for pain and swelling.

Despite its many benefits, Rock Whitlowgrass is not widely cultivated or well-known in the horticultural world. However, it is a valuable plant that deserves more attention and recognition. With its delicate appearance, hardiness, and versatility, Rock Whitlowgrass is sure to be a valuable addition to any garden or wildflower meadow.

Rock Whitlowgrass is a beautiful and versatile plant that is well-suited to a wide range of growing conditions. Whether you are planting in a rock garden, an alpine meadow, or in a wildflower bed, this plant is sure to bring beauty, resilience, and a touch of traditional medicine to your landscape.

Additionally, Rock Whitlowgrass is a popular plant among wildflower enthusiasts and botanists alike. It is often used as a benchmark species to study the impacts of environmental changes, such as climate change and deforestation, on alpine ecosystems. This is because Rock Whitlowgrass is sensitive to changes in its environment and is an indicator of the health of alpine habitats.

The plant is also of great interest to conservationists, as it is found in many protected areas and is considered a rare species in some regions. In order to protect this valuable plant, it is important to be mindful of our activities in alpine environments, such as hiking and camping, and to take steps to minimize our impact on these fragile ecosystems.

Another interesting aspect of Rock Whitlowgrass is its cultural significance. In many indigenous cultures, the plant has been used as a symbol of resilience, adaptability, and perseverance. This is because the plant is able to thrive in the harshest of environments and is a reminder that even the smallest of creatures can make a big impact.

In conclusion, Rock Whitlowgrass is a fascinating and valuable plant that is deserving of more attention and recognition. Its beauty, hardiness, versatility, and cultural significance make it a valuable addition to any landscape, and its role as a benchmark species and cultural symbol makes it an important part of our natural and cultural heritage.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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