The invisible hibernation of meadow plants

The meadows of Ruissalo are the domain of herbaceous plants. In the autumn, however, these plants wilt away one after the other. Being unable to migrate south for the winter, plants have to get by where they are all year round. They survive the winter as new seeds or underground as roots, rootstocks or bulbs. Plants that winter as underground structures store starch in the autumn to serve as reserve nutrition for the next growing season. Plant seeds, meanwhile, are highly resistant to cold and dry conditions, but contain less reserve nutrition than large roots, because of which they germinate slower. On the other hand, seeds have the added advantage of being able to spread to new growth sites. Each seed contains the embryo of a new plant and a small amount of reserve nutrition for the plant’s first moments, encased in a protective shell. In other words, meadow plants do not disappear for the winter, they simply change forms.