This section is from the book "Sub-Alpine Plants Or Flowers Of The Swiss Woods And Meadows", by H. Stuart Thompson. Also available from Amazon: Sub-Alpine Plants: Or, Flowers of the Swiss Woods and Meadows.
Leaves opposite, very small. Flowers unisexual, male flowers with a tubular membranous perianth, otherwise resembling Coniferae. A very small family of chiefly tropical and Mediterranean plants.
A small dioecious shrub, with opposite branches and no leaves. Stem 1-2 feet high. Female catkins when ripe appearing like red berries, peduncled; male catkins sessile. The plant resembles certain species of Equisetum in outward appearance.
Rocky hillsides; local. In Switzerland only in Valais (Sion, Sierre, Fully, etc.). April, May.
Valais, Dauphiny, Central Europe.
Note. - Conifers possess a power of resistance to extreme cold unsurpassed by any form of vegetation except perhaps the microscopic plants which live in the oceans of Arctic regions. The Siberian settlement of Werchsjanst, in about 68° N. lat., is perhaps the coldest inhabited place in the world. The maximum winter temperature is never less than 76 degrees of frost, and occasionally there are 100 degrees of frost. Yet this settlement is surrounded by coniferous trees.
Dr. Borthwith1 recently alluded to Kienitz's investigations into the shapes and types of Scots Pine, of which there are two distinct types. The typical Scotch form is a strong-branched, strong-crowned tree. The other is slender and pyramidal, and occurs generally in the Baltic provinces.
1 In Address to Bot. Soc. of Edinburgh, November, 1911.