11 May. 2022 · experience nature consciously
Vanessa Freytag

Flowerpower: Alpine Flowers from A-Z

When we are out and about in the Walser nature, we inform ourselves about our route, the weather, the conditions and which peak we want to climb next. But what about the flora that surrounds us on our hike?

When I plan a hike, I look for the nearest peak, check the weather beforehand and familiarise myself with the conditions of the tour. Since I moved here, I don't yet know the names of all the mountain peaks in Kleinwalsertal. That's why I try to memorise the name and appearance of my destination before every tour. Of course, also to impress friends and acquaintances a little when they visit me in Kleinwalsertal. 😉

With the project "Experience nature consciously", however, I have noticed that I have not yet actively engaged with the animal and plant world that surrounds me here. Sure, I follow the rules for a conscious and respectful interaction with nature in order to protect animals and plants. But which animals and plants are these anyway? In the future, I want to be more attentive to my surroundings on hikes & am already diligently trying to learn. Do you feel the same way? Below we have compiled some basics of the Walser flora for you.

The Alpine Flower Trail on the Walmendingerhorn is also highly recommended for your first insights into the alpine flora. Or how about going on a walk with our experts? Finally, it is important to emphasise that many of the plant species in Walser nature are protected - please do not simply pick them off. With suitable apps or a plant diary in which you stick pictures, you can admire the colourful blossoms long after your holiday is over. 😊

Plant diversity in Kleinwalsertal

Alpine Kitchenbell (Pulsatilla alpine)

  • Family: Cocksfoot
  • Flowering time: May - July
  • Characteristics: Perennial, herbaceous plant; leaves appear only after flowering; six oval, white corolla bracts.
  • Habitat: Lean pastures, stony lawns with calcareous subsoil; altitudes 1200 - 2700 m
  • Special features: In the fruiting stage, pistils elongate to 5 cm and give a hair-like appearance ("Wilds Männle" in Kleinwalsertal)
  • Endangerment:

Spiked Devil's Claw (Phyteuma spicatum)

  • Family:Bellflower family
  • Flowering time: June - September
  • Characteristics: Five-segmented hermaphrodite flowers in 6-20 cm long cylindrical spikes; petals fused; corolla greenish to yellowish-white.
  • Habitat: Fresh, loamy deciduous woodland and high shrubland; up to altitudes of 2000 m.
  • Special features: The young leaves used to be eaten as a wild vegetable ("forest spinach"); the root beets are also edible; hence the name Rapunzel.
  • Threats:

Ciliated Alpine Rose (Rhododendron hirsutum)

  • Family: Heather 
  • Flowering time: June - August
  • Characteristics: Shrub & leaves evergreen; flowers at twig ends in clustered head-like racemes; corolla bell-shaped funnel, bright bright red; hairy inside.
  • Habitat: calcareous scrub and dwarf shrub heaths, calcareous rubble, scree and stony slopes and sparse pine and mountain pine forests; altitudes 600 -2000 m
  • Distinguishing features: the leaf margin is clearly "pimpled" (bristly hairs).
  • Threat: Protected, poisonous

great starthistle (Astrantia major)

  • Family: Umbelliferae
  • Flowering time: June - August
  • Characteristics: Upright perennial; forms pinkish-white, star-shaped flowers arranged in umbels
  • Habitat: Mountain meadows, high shrublands, montane-subalpine,
  • Special features: grows between 50 and 70 cm tall
  • Threats: 

Clusius-Enzian (Gentiana clusii)

  • Family: Gentian family
  • Flowering time: April - August
  • Characteristics: Flowers solitary, terminal, hermaphroditic, bell-shaped, inside whitish striped or clearly dark blue dotted, without olive-green longitudinal stripes.
  • Habitat: Lean and calcareous dry grassland or gravelly ground; montane valleys to altitudes of 2800 m
  • Special features: 
  • Threat:

Rusty-leaved alpine rose (Rhododendron ferrugineum)

  • Family: Heather family
  • Flowering time: June-August
  • Characteristics: Shrub evergreen, very bushy growth; flowers in several terminal racemes; crown hairy inside, broadly funnel-shaped, deep pink to strong red.
  • Habitat: Fresh, mostly acidic coniferous forests, sparse scrub, dwarf shrub heaths and scrubland; up to altitudes of about 2100 m
  • Special features: The underside of older leaves is covered with rusty-brown glandular scales.
  • Threat: Regionally endangered (-r)

Snake's knotweed (Polygonum bistorta)

  • Family: Knotweed
  • Flowering time: May - July
  • Characteristics: serpentine; inflorescence dense cylindrical pseudo spike; flowers pink; 8 stamens, 3 styles
  • Habitat: moist humus soils rich in nitrogen and mineral compounds, moist mountain meadows; up to altitudes of about 2000 m
  • Special features:
  • Threat:

Black cabbage (Nigritella nigra)

  • Family: Orchid family
  • Flowering time: June - August
  • Characteristics: Dense, spherical inflorescence with small black-purple, funnel-shaped flowers with upward pointing lip.
  • Habitat: Lean, dry mountain and alpine meadows, alpine pastures
  • Special features: has a pleasant vanilla or chocolate scent
  • Threat: widespread in the Alps, nevertheless endangered

Silver thistle (Carlina acaulis)

  • Family: Compositae
  • Flowering time: July - September
  • Characteristics: Flower heads ∅ 5-11 cm, with several hundred whitish to reddish tubular flowers, bracts silvery-white above.
  • Habitat: summer-warm, mostly grazed rough grasslands on base-rich soils with a low humus layer, especially in limestone areas with low rainfall; up to altitudes of 2800 m
  • Special features: An angel is said to have shown Charlemagne the silver thistle in a dream as a cure for the plague, hence the supposed name Charlemagne's flower
  • Threat:

Dove's Head Cress (Silene vulgaris)

  • Family: Clove family
  • Flowering time: May-September
  • Characteristics: White, light pink sepals with 5 petals; calyx tube inflated.
  • Habitat: Dry, moist, non-acidic and nitrogen-poor, calcareous soils; rarely on cultivated land; up to altitudes above 2000
  • Special features: Young shoots can be picked before flowering and used like vegetables or added raw to a salad; in former times, soap suds were boiled from the roots
  • Threats:
Alpine herb garden at Hörnlepass | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen | Photographer: Oliver Farys

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