Wild irises near Ticino river by Lucia Parretti
Wild Iris Meadow close to the river Ticino

These pictures were taken about 30 km downstream from where the river Ticino leaves the largest Alps lake Lago Maggiore and starts its run through the ever more flattening Po valley towards the river Po itself. The meadow shown on the right is typical of the areas adjacent to the river's ever shifting bed which has to cope every Spring with the runoff water from the melting snow up in the Alps. Though some years the meadows themselves get flooded, they are not swampy. The reason is that all the vegetation grows out of ust half a meter of fertile humus resting atop 20-40 meters of clean, permeable gravel which ancient glaciers ground off the Alps.

This is the ideal habitat for the wild yellow irises (iris pseudacorus) shown on the left which are abundant everywhere among the tall grass. Not only are they endemic here but, according to some hypotheses, the area might actually be the original cradle of the whole genus. Which is a meager consolation for environmentalists in those regions of North America where the inappropriately introduced plants are becoming a nuisance.

Parco del Ticino, close to Castano Primo (locality Ponte Castano), Italy, May 2006

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