Perennial plants are herbaceous plants which die back to the ground during winter and grow back in spring. Some can be left undisturbed for years while others need to be divided every few years to maintain their vigour. You can find a perennial plant for any situation, whether it's a stone wall or a shady corner. Some are grown for their flower displays, others for their beautiful foliage. Evergreen perennials and half-shrubs are included in this category.
Salvia is the largest genus in the family Lamiaceae, with roughly 1000 species native to Eurasia and America. There are three distinct distribution areas, Central- and South-America, Central-Asia and the Mediterranean and E-Asia. Most species need a warmer climate than Iceland has to offer, but at least two species are hardy here.
Saponaria is a genus in the carnation family, Caryophyllaceae, native to Europe and Asia. The latin name means soapy sap, which refers to the saponin content of the sap, which foams like soap. At least Saponaria ocymoides has been used to make liquid soap by soaking the leaves in water. Most species have white or pink flowers. They grow in different conditions, some are good rock garden plants that need dry, sun baked soil, while others are taller and prefer moist soil.
Saxifraga is the largest genus of the Saxifragaceae family with roughly 440 species spread around temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. The Latin name means stone breaking which could refer to many species growing in rock crevices at high altitudes. Other species are larger and grow on moist meadows, but most species, even those growing on cliffs, grow where there is some moisture. A few species are native to Iceland.(*)
Scabiosa is a genus in the Caprifoliaceae family. Their native habitats are dry grasslands and mountainsides, often in calcium rich soil. They can however grow in any garden soil, but thrive best given enough sunshine.
Sedum, is a large species of close to 600 species in the family Crassulaceae, with a wide distribution around the northern hemisphere. They are herbaceous or shrubby plants with thick, water storing leaves, very drought tolerant and thrive best in sun.
Semiaquilegia is a small genus in the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae, closely related to columbines (Aquilegia). The difference between them is that false columbines lack the spurs that columbine flowers have. Two species are grown as garden plants, both are native to China.
Senecio is a large and diverse genus in the Asteraceae family. It is one of the largest genera of flowering plants with over 1200 species with a global distribution. The flowers are usually yellow, but can rarely be white, green, purple or blue. Within the genus are annuals, trees, shrubs, and the horrible weed groundsel (S. vulgaris), which is probably the member of the genus with the widest distribution here in Iceland. It also includes some hardy perennials that make nice garden plants.
Silene is the largest genus of the carnation family, Caryophyllaceae, with a global distribution, the greatest number of species in the northern hemisphere. They prefer to be on the sunny side of life, many low growing species are excellent rock garden plants. One species is native to Iceland.(*)
The genus Podophyllum in the Berberidaceae family has been split up and now there is only one species left in that genus, Podophyllum peltatum, which is native to N-America. The Sinopodophyllum genus also contains only one species, the Himalayan may apple, Sinopodphyllum hexandrum, which is native to the Himalayans. Other species formerly in the Podophyllum genus have been moved to the genus Dysosoma.