When travelling throung the Alps, while rambling through valleys and slopes, on top of small mountains, or even during climbing tours, it is possible to see quite a number of plants and flowers, that are mostly uncommon to Central Europe and outside mountainous regions. Open eyes and a bit of interest in country and flora and fauna will provide us with new impressions.
Thistles in the Alpines
Since my first visit to Scotland I am a great fan of the thistle. The thistle grows on barren soils, on stony slopes and seems to be a frugal plant in general. When rambling through Austrian valleys one can see plenty of different thistle species, making the thistle an interesting sort of plant. Yes, thistles do prick and scratch but are beautiful plants. See for yourself:
The Spiniest Thistle (Cirsium spinosissimum) grows on dry and rocky areas. In Austria it can be found on slopes, along roads and on more or less any dry ground. I found it most common in the greater Grossglockner Area. The plant grows in the mountainous regions of France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy and the Balkan countries.
The plant is between 20-80 cm tall. The flower head, leaves and the stem bear long, prickly spines which gave the the plant its name. The plant is endemic in certain regions.
Other Alpine Plants along the Road
Although thistles are more or lesss endemic to Alpine regions, there are still many other plants and flowers worthwile to look at and, of course, to take the effort, capturing these plants on camera. I always recommend to use a tripod. But we all know that at times it is much easier taking shots out of hand and, sometimes, we are simply too lazy to place the tripod and to set up everything properly. In order to achieve maximum sharpness it is mandatory to use tripods.
The Edelweiss is a typical mountain flower and belongs to the Asteraceae family. This flower is very special. Look at stem, leaves, sepal and petals, these are all covered with dense hair giving the flower a soft apperance which is more than unique. This flower is very rare and you need to look carefully for this flower to find but one.
Usually they blossom in remote mountain areas, in steep rock faces and sometimes alongside roads. Sometimes the Edelweiss grows endemic on a single spot but mostly not. We find the Edelweiss in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol, Slovenia, Romania and Bulgaria but also in the French Alps and the Carpathians. So if you are out there look out for this beautiful flower. But don’t pick any of it. We found this flower quite often alongside roads.