Mountain flowers in front of the Bernina massif (photo: Susanne Bonaca)Mountain flowers in front of the Bernina massif (photo: Susanne Bonaca)
Mountain flowers in front of the Bernina massif (photo: Susanne Bonaca)Mountain flowers in front of the Bernina massif (photo: Susanne Bonaca)
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Floral splendour

PPlant diversity in the Engadin

Pontresina and the surrounding area are a veritable treasure trove of rare and beautiful Alpine plants. Both the climate and soil provide the conditions for this rich diversity. Besides a stock of indigenous plants which managed to survive the glacial period, a large number of non-indigenous plants subsequently boosted local plant diversity. New plants migrated into the Engadin from the south, east and north, mingling with the indigenous species.

 

June sees the Engadin mountain spring bursting into flower with Alpine flora in the most stunning and brightest of colours. Alpine meadows are low in nitrogen and rich in grasses such as yellow oat grass and red fescue, and in flowers such as thistles, arnica (mountain tobacco), centaury, spignel and gentian. The following are some of the better-known Alpine flowers:

Edelweiss

This protected plant is white with long, furry leaves. The edelweiss is a member of the daisy family and grows on stony ground, usually over 1500 m a.s.l., flowering from June to September.

The edelweiss is protected
The edelweiss is protected

Alpine rose

This evergreen heather is a member of the rhododendron family. Its shallow roots make it easy for it to grow in rocky terrain. Its red bell-shaped flowers flower from June to August.

The Alpine rose
The Alpine rose

Gentian

The pure blue colour of the gentian flower has made it a symbol of loyalty. The flower closes when the sky is overcast but opens when the sun shines. 

The gentian – symbol of loyalty
The gentian – symbol of loyalty

The bell-shaped flowers are in bloom from May to August and are usually found on rocky slopes, meadows and fields on chalky ground at altitudes of 1000 m a.s.l. and higher. The gentian is a protected species and may not be picked.

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