(5) Shore plants

As a reminder of the time when this area was a seashore, on banks of the river grows gale or bog myrtle (Myrica gale). Particularly, look for some on the left side of the Kaarisilta bridge. Botanists from Central Europe could not believe that this plant grows in a central part of Finland—it is generally considered to need a warmer climate, and it typically grows on the seashore. Gale appeared here during the warm period following the last ice age, on the shores of the ancient Yoldian Sea, and it still tries to thrive here, even in the same areas as a typical northern shrub, dwarf birch (Betula nana). Gale is a modest-looking shrub which blooms in April or May before its leaves are out. Male and female flowers are on different plants; the tiny cone-like pistils are red and stamen are yellowish catkins, about 1.5 cm long. Its dark green leaves resemble ivy leaves.


Gale stamen flowers in April

Gale is an old medicinal herb, which was used at times as a parasiticide. The leaves have been used as a spice in brewing beer, but nowadays doctors do not recommend using the plant because it is poisonous.


Gale is a slow-growing shrub, which in the summer hardly is recognizable

The finest of the shore plants is the yellow iris (Iris pseudacorus), blooming June–July. Its 60–120 cm high dark green leaves are prominent even without the shining yellow flowers, which can be as wide as 12 cm in breadth. In Finnish, the yellow iris is Keltakurjenmiekka (crane’s sword). The flower has been a model for lilies in coats of arms.

The finest of the shore plants is the yellow iris (Iris pseudacorus), blooming June–July. Its 60–120 cm high dark green leaves are prominent even without the shining yellow flowers, which can be as wide as 12 cm in breadth. In Finnish, the yellow iris is Keltakurjenmiekka (crane’s sword). The flower has been a model for lilies in coats of arms.



Marsh marigold (Caltha palustris) blooms in May with strong yellow flowers. Its name, as well as its Latin name palustris, reveals that it grows in wet places; typically you can see it in ditches or by streams.


Marsh marigold in splendor in May


Marsh cinquefoil (Comarum palustre) is a plant about 60 cm tall with red flowers. It grows on the shore or even in the water, blooming in June–July. Its Finnish name, kurjenjalka, (crane’s foot), refers to both its wet habitat and to its leaf, which resembles the track of a crane.


Looking closely you can see the fragile marsh cinquefoil flowers.



Bogbean (Menyanthes trifoliata) blooms in June–July. The flowers are white with pink outer petals. The leaves resemble large clover leaves. A typical place to see bogbean is on a marshy shore, but it can also grow in the water.


Bogbean in bloom in the Koskenlahti boat harbor