Maritime Alps Hyssop
AppearancePerennial plant with woody stems twisted at the base, pubescent at the top, 8-15 cm height.
Opposite leaves, without stipules, sessile, leathery, with cartilaginous edge, oval-elliptic, 4-5 mm broad and 7-9 mm long. Flowers in whorls of 3-6 flowers, developed at the axil of two normal leaves, ovate, little different from the lower ones; zygomorphic, violet or purple corolla, 12-16 mm, formed by 5 completely merged petals, well surpassing the calyx and with the upper lip almost flat; 5-8 mm bilabiate calyx with 13-15 veins; 4 stamina, 2 carpels forming a superior ovary; single stylus inserted at the base of the ovary with bifid stigmata.
HabitatAlmost exclusive to calcareous soils, it lives on cliffs and scree from 400 to 1500-1800 metres above sea level. It is sometimes also found on dry, stony meadows and pastures. It often gives a beautiful stain of colour to vertical and grey limestone cliffs.
DistributionSubendemic species, present in the Western Alps both in Italy and France.
EtymologyThe name of the genus comes from the Greek mikrós "small" and meris "parts": which has small parts. The name of the species comes from the Latin "margino", I make an edge: for the cartilaginous edge of the leaves.
Properties and usesLike many other species of the genus Micromeria it can be easily grown both in pots and in rock gardens.
Endemism: endemic species are animals or plants living exclusively in a given territory. When this is very limited, we speak of "restricted" endemism. "Endemic" is not necessarily synonymous with "rare": rare species may have few individuals distributed over large areas, an endemic species can also be abundant in a given area, but be limited to that single territory.