The Flora in the Alps

The Alps provide a habitat for about 4000 originally native species and subspecies. If we take into account the subspecies of commonly collectively defined species (Hawkweed - Hieracium, Lady's Mantle - Alchemilla, Bramble - Rubus fruticosus agg. and others), then the number increases considerably. Of about 200 species and subspecies no habitats are known, and are therefore considered to be extinct or lost. A further 1000 species have been introduced by man and new ones are constantly being added. At least half of these now occur in regions of the Alps with certain degrees of regularity.
More than 400 species are endemic to the Alps, i.e. they only occur in these regions. Particularly rich in endemites are the families of bell flowers (Campanulaceae) and saxifrages (Saxifragaceae). Among the species the saxifrage (Saxifraga) heads the list with 28 endemic species in the Alps. Among the few species that exclusively occur in the Alps we can count Devil's Claw (Physoplexis) with only one Southern Alpine species (Physoplexis comosa) or Cotton Thistle (Berardia subacaulis). The species Soldanelle (Soldanella sp.) originated in the Alps (alpigene species) and its occurrence is restricted to the Alps or the adjacent mountains.

The Flora in the AlpsClimatically and geologically the alpine region can be divided into three zones, further there is a distinction between Western and Eastern Alps. Every region of the Alps contains species that only occur or have their main distribution area there. Below we find a selection:

Northern Alps: The common Alpine Pasque Flower (Pulsatilla alpina ssp. alpina), Schneeberger Alpine Pasque Flower (Pulsatilla alpina ssp. schneebergensis), Austrian Snowbell (Soldanella austriaca).

Central Alps: Alpine Rock-Jasmine (Androsace alpina), Rosette-leaved Rampion (Phyteuma globulariaefolium), King of the Alps (Eritrichum nanum)

Southern Alps: Dolomite Pink Cinquefoil (Potentilla nitida), Devil's Claw (Physoplexis comosa ), Spectacular Primrose, Wulfen's Primrose (Primula spectabilis, P. wulfeniana), Cobweb Saxifrage (Saxifraga arachnoidea), Flax-leaved Bellflower (Campanula carnica), Triglav Gentian (Gentiana terglouensis).

Western Alps:
Cotton Thistle (Berardia subacaulis), Pyramidal Saxifrage (Saxifraga cotyledon), Fairy Foxglove (Erinus alpinus), Alpine Scabious (Cephalaria alpina), Mt.Cenis Pansy (Viola cenisia).

Eastern Alps: Single-flowered Cushion Saxifrage (Saxifraga burseriana), Clusius Primrose (Primula clusii), Brown Gentian (Gentiana pannonica), Eastern Cinquefoil (Potentilla clusiana).


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