News from Sierra Nevada Guides

Latest news from the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Southern Spain

Friday, 9 November 2012

Flowers of Spain's Sierra Nevada Mountains

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                        
Arenaria Nevadensis
Viola Crassiuscula                  The Sierra Nevada Violet                                   
Saxifrage Nevadensis
Pinguicula Nevadensis            Thin Spurred Butterwort
Gentiana Boryi
Gentiana Sierrae
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.

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