Today we investigated vegetation succession on Mount Etna by stopping at four different lava flows of known ages and sampling the plants found there.
The first stop was Madonna di Monpilleri. It was the oldest lava we would work on, dating from 1669. The site supported many different plant species with strange names (Soapwort, Broom, Storksbill etc) and also orchids, while some students also spotted lizards.
Then we descended to our last stop at Piano del Vescovo, which has a lava field from 1792. It also had a much more recent snow cover! No matter, you cant keep a good botanist down! In between outbreaks of snowball skirmishes, we managed to find enough exposed lava to sample the plants and finish the job
A great day on the flanks of Mumma Etna – dry and clear weather, great views, fascinating plants, and the snowball fight was an honorable draw!