Hiding in Seaside Pansies
Artist Marjolein Bastin
Subject Location Ameland, Netherlands
Along the bicycle path here on Ameland, with the evening sunlight coming straight at us, I saw the sweetest picture – a young round bunny sitting amidst seaside pansies, plantains and dandelion seed clusters waiting to be carried off by the wind. Nothing exotic, but I felt compelled to paint it because people kept passing us on their bicycles without noticing!
Seaside pansies are not only beautiful, they are vital for sustaining butterflies – the Dark green Fritillary, Queen of Spain Fritillary and the Niobe Fritillary. Their caterpillars eat the young shoots of the wild pansies, so if there are no more wild pansies these fritillaries will no longer be able to survive! Seaside pansies don’t mind a little blowing sand because they are firmly rooted in the dunes. Their taproot can reach up to three feet below the surface. It’s obviously not afraid of a dry summer.
• The Queen of Spain fritillary, Issoria lathonia, is a butterfly that is a fairly common sight throughout Europe and portions of Asia. One of its host plants is the seaside pansy.
• The seaside pansy, or dune pansy, can be found along the coastlines of Western Europe and Baltic Sea.
• Ameland is one of a chain of eight islands along the northern border of the Netherlands. They are known as the Wadden Sea islands, the “Wadden” being the area between the continent and the islands. Thanks in large part to extensive tidal flats and inland wetlands, it is an area of great biodiversity.
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