Diapensia lapponica is a plant in the family Diapensiaceae, and the only species in the genus Diapensia. It is a circumboreal arctic-alpine species which grows on exposed rocky ridges that are kept free from snow by high winds .
It is a small cushion-forming evergreen perennial shrub, up to 15 cm in height. It has oval blunt leathery toothless leaves, up to 1 cm long, which are arranged in dense rosettes. It bears solitary white flowers, on stems up to 3 cm tall.
It could be aged by counting growth-rings, and on this basis, many Canadian plants have been shown to live to over a century old .
Two subspecies are recognised:
The discovery of Diapensia took place in July 1951; C. F. Tebbutt, a birdwatcher, found the plant, recognising it as "something different" . Diapensia was one of a trio of Arctic plants discovered in Scotland in the early 1950s. Although no new species to Britain had been discovered in Scotland since Victorian times, in 1950, the Arctic plant Koenigia islandica had been found on the Isle of Skye, and in 1952, Artemisia norvegica was found on Cul Mor . A photograph of the plant by Robert Moyes Adam taken on 14 June 1952 (soon after the initial discovery) is held by the St Andrews University Library .
It flowers at this site in May or June, the exact time varying from year to year. Some sources state that the species is found at a second site but recent sources state that this is not the case .