The vegetation in the area of Stångehuvud


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The granite landscape of the Stångehuvud area may at a distance seem to be somewhat lacking in plant species, but the mosaic-like environment at the meeting between land and sea provides fertile ground for a surprising number of species. In a botanical inventory made in the mid-1990s almost 260 higher plants were noted in Stångehuvud.

The prime characteristic of Stångehuvud is obviously the very exposed rock, but there are also crevices and cracks with soil at the bottom. Here and there in the mountains depressions with poor drainage have led to the formation of humus and peat with swamp-like vegetation.

Some smaller ponds and rock pools are also found at Stångehuvud.

Beaches (especially rock and boulder beaches) have their own special flora, adapted to strong winds and very salty conditions.

Read more about rock shores and the beach zone

The only major area with deeper soil is found in the surroundings of the trail from Pinnevik, past Gullmarsvallen on its western side, through Munkeviks Mule to Munkevik. Even bushes and trees can grow in this environment, in contrast to the barren and wind-exposed western parts of Stångehuvud. More about this later in the text.

At a number of locations around the Stångehuvud area there are information boards that tell about the special environment you may see in the neighbourhood.



Some examples of the flora in Stångehuvud


Thrift one of the most common plants

A characteristic plant found in many parts of the beachfront areas of Stångehuvud is Thrift. This species manages to take root in cracks in the rock and its flowers provide a beautiful display of colour during the early summer in the granite landscape.






Boulder beach at Kramkistesund

Inside the small island Kramkistan (see map) is a beautiful beach (photo to the right.) with stones and boulders rounded by the melting of the ice sheet about 14 000 years ago. To the south of the line with natural boulders a beach was created from the huge amount of rubble during the stonemasonry period.


Typical for a beach of boulders is that there is no higher vegetation on its lower part closest to the water, where environmental conditions are too severe. But a few meters up from the beach a number of species are present.

One of the more interesting features inside Kramkistesund is a small population of Lathyrus japonicus, which for many years has grown right next to the path. 

Read more about Lathyrus japonicus

A characteristic plant on the beach of boulders is Silene uniflora, a fairly low growing plant with relatively large, white flowers. In a small bay inside Kramkistan grows a beautiful stand of sea kale, Crambe maritima. Year after year these impressive, meter high plants, recur. In June they are dotted with white flowers.

Read more about Crambe maritima

Besides sea kale, a few species of sea beet grow in the area. Beta vulgaris, spp maritima, (close relative of Swiss chard - grown as an alternative to spinach), and also tall beach rye, a robust grass with a long spike in the top. The boulder beach contains several species and genera that benefit through the increased nutrient supply of seaweeds that are washed up on the beach. Atriplex littoralis with gray-green leaves and inconspicuous flowers, and Sonchus arvensis, tall with yellow flowers, are examples of nutrient favoured species.

In the upper part of the block above the beach on Kramkistesund are bushes of Rosa rugosa. The species is not originally native to Sweden, but invaded the west coast during the second half of the 1900s. It is thought to have spread from East Asia to Denmark in cargoes, and then probably spread by way of water to the coast of Bohuslän. Plant location in the upper part of the block beach is typical here, where the waves reach their maximum at high sea level.

In the hillside in damp crevices above Kramkistesund the loosestrife, Lythrum salicaria, blooms during late summer with its orchide-like reddish-purple inflorescences . The species is also seen in many other places in humid, swamp-like parts of Stångehuvud (see photo above).

Among the boulders not too near the beach, where the soil does not dry out too much, wild Angelica, Angelica silvestris, grows. This species has a typical flattened inflorescence, unlike the "sister species" Angelica archangelica, on which it is rounded. A. archangelica is usually found in a few places in the beach area at Kramkistesund.

In rock crevices from Kramkistesund towards the area below the lighthouse, one can find the leaves of the maritime plant species that blooms earliest in spring, scurvy grass, Cochlearia officinalis, with its small sweet-scented white flowers and clear green rounded leaves.

Read more about scurvy grass

Outcrop alternate with moisture spots
Up in the mountains of the Stångehuvud area outcrop alternates with moisture spots. The dominant grasses are wavy hair-grass, Deschampsia flexuosa, and Agrostis vinealis. In more humid areas  purple moor-grass, Molinia caerulea, grows along with Juncus conglomeratus, and sedge, for example Carex nigra. The exposed location forms the bushes and windswept small trees found only in protected areas as in Storklyftan inside the Cave of the Winds, Vindarnas grotta, (see map).

The beautiful area by the lighthouse south of Little Munkevik is rich in ponds and areas of moisture. On the left side below the railing leading up to the lighthouse is an elongated area with marsh and vegetation adapted to moisture conditions. In mid-May  water clover, Menyanthes trifoliata, blooms in hundreds, with its beautiful white and pink flowers. In the midst of summer, the richness of different species is great. In the moisture of mosses (Sphagnum-species) dwarf cornel, Cornus suecica, is seen, a species that later in the summer shines with brilliant red fruits. Beautiful bell heather, Erica tetralix, a western (maritime) species that can not tolerate too cold winters, also thrives in this moist, nutrient-poor and acidic environment. In the height of the summer the pink flowers contrast beautifully with the green mosses.

Looking more closely among Sphagnum mosses you can find sundew, Drosera rotundifolia, an insect-catching plant with reddish, sticky leaves. The secretion which is excreted causes small insects to stick to the leaves and enzymes found in the secretions deplete the insect. The plant can in this way, ''add to'' the diet in the nutrient-poor environment with nutritional supplements from insects.

A green valley between Pinnevik and Munkevik
The rift valley between Pinnevik and Munkevik is called Munkeviks Mule (highlighted in green on the map). A more protected leeward location combined with deeper soil makes the vegetation here completely different to that of the west side. The windswept, low-growing vegetation towards the sea is replaced by much more prosperous and taller vegetation. Many of the species can be found in ordinary meadows inland.

Several types of bushes and trees can grow here, including willow, birch and rowan. The wide path which today leads to Munkevik and Pinnevik was built around 1900, when the stone industry needed better transport routes. Earlier visitors had to walk on a narrow paved track right on the mountain ridge on the south side of Munkeviks Mule (see photo below).

In recent years Lysekil - on the initiative of the Carl and Calla Curman Foundation - has cleared away brushwood, etc. so that it is possible once again to walk along the old path. The aim is also to keep the valley sufficiently clear, so that you can look at the sea in the direction of Munkevik. The flora between Pinnevik and Munkevik is in some spots influenced by the locally increased lime content of the soil. Near Munkevik, shells from mussel canning had been dumped in large amounts in the 1940´s..

Potentilla argentea, Trifolium arvense, hare´s foot, and Sedum album line the path in the middle of Munkeviks mule. Along a small flat rock just off the trail grows blackthorn in trellis form. Blackthorn berries ripen weeks earlier than in the free-standing bushes.

Close to Gullmarsvallen is the only area in Stångehuvud with a real tree stand, including some species not naturally found wild in Sweden. These trees were probably planted by schoolchildren in the 1910s and 1920s. Elm, sycamore maple, large specimens of black pine and a few white spruce are found there.

The granite wall that fences in Gullmarsvallen is an attraction in itself. The blocks in the wall - built by unemployed stonemasons in the early 1930s - fit perfectly with each other! 

On the granite wall, just above Pinnevik, is an information board about Stångehuvud and the Carl and Calla Curman Foundation.



View to the west in Munkeviks mule, late 1800s. Walking path along the cliff edge. Apparently there were no shrub or tree vegetation at this time.
Photo: M. Jacobson. The archive at Vikarvet.

Picture to compare. Munkeviks mule 2006.