Flowers of the Sierra Nevada
Although I’m no expert on flowers, my work as a guide in Spain’s Sierra Nevada brings me close to nature. The flowers of the Sierra Nevada are amazingly diverse as the National and Natural parks span a wide altitude difference with climatic zones from Mediterranean to Alpine. Also different parts of the Sierra have different geology that also adds to the diverse spread of species.
|Trumpet Gentian (Gentiana acaulis) with Plantago Nivalis - The Star of the Snows|
|Sierra Nevada Violet, Viola Crassiuscula|
There are many species and sub-species that are endemic to the Sierra Nevada, including:
Chaenorrhinum Glareosum Blue Dreams
Erigeron Frigidus Cold Fleabane
Artemisia Granatensis Mountain Camomile
Viola Crassiuscula The Sierra Nevada Violet
Pinguicula Nevadensis Thin Spurred Butterwort
Plantago Nivalis The Star of the Snows
Additionally there are many species common to other areas too.
|hormathophylla spinosa known locally as "rascaculos"|
I have two favourite areas for spotting plants:
|Gentiana Sierae, endemic to the borreguiles|
The “borreguiles” which are areas of wet pastures besides streams and small lakes at around 2700m to 3000m (typically Siete Lagunas).
Here you will find various gentians and the amazing Star of the Snows which is a woolly plantain.
|Ranunculus acetosellifolius, endemic to the Sierra Nevada|
The high boulder and scree fields at around 3000m to 3400m (typically Alcazaba)
This is where you will find Blue Dreams, The Sierra Nevada Violet and the Cold Fleabane.
|Thin Spurred Butterwort, Pinguicula Nevadensis endemic|
There is no doubt that the best time to come and see the alpine flowers is early July. This is when the snow has mostly melted and there is plenty of moisture coupled with the warm long days. There are some nice spots accessible from the Poqueira Refuge, the Rio Seco, Rio Mulhacen and Siete Laguna’s. The Rio Mulhacen and Siete Laguna’s are possible as a day trip using the National Park bus from Capileira. (details from Sierra Nevada Guides website).
|St Bruno's Lilly, Paradisia liliastrum (not endemic)|
If you are venturing into the high mountains to see the stunning wild flowers, remember that these are serious mountains. It is likely that there will still be snow patches to cross in July and as in all mountain environments the weather can prove problematic with frequent high (cold) winds, mist and the occasional storm.