Flowers of the Pyrenees – Flora Pyrenaica II, Red

WP_20170710_18_21_24_ProSiempreviva! Sempervivum montanum, or Mountain Houseleek for anglophones.

Siempreviva! Sempervivum montanum, or Mountain Houseleek for anglophones.

This Summer in the Pyrenees the star of the floral show was almost certainly Sempervivum montanum, in Spanish Siempreviva de montaña and rather quaintly known as Mountain Houseleek in English. I have to say that i much prefer the French name, Joubarbe des montagnes. This plant belongs to a family known as Crassulaceae, a type of succulent. The base plant formed by tight rosettes of ‘succulent’ light green leaves is attractive in itself, but when it flowers the spectacular pink-red-purple structure of the bloom is a delight to behold. It grows to a height of 10-15cm and can be found up to 2500m. We came across it several times this past month of July.

Siempreviva flower cluster at 2200-2300m, Valle de Estós.

Siempreviva flower cluster at 2200-2300m, Valle de Estós.

 

On the subject of prevalent plants, few have more to say – or to show – than the Rhododendron, Rhododendron ferrugineum, called Alpenrose in English, Rododendro or Azalea de montaña in Spanish. Very widely present in the Pyrenees, usually appearing at or just above treeline in extensive bushlike shrubs with clusters of flowers.

Rhododendron ferrugineum, Azalea de montaña

Rhododendron ferrugineum, Azalea de montaña, at 2200-2300m in Valle de Remuñe.

When the trees run out Alpenrose runs wild.. Vallibierna 2200m.

When the trees run out Alpenrose runs wild.. Vallibierna 2200m.

 

Moving up above the trees into the alpine realm, among the rocks and even close to the summits, we find isolated cushions of green with tiny red-pink flowers. Silene acaulis is a high mountain plant known in English as Moss Campion or Cushion Pink, evidently due to its similarity to the cushions of moss found in the forests at lower altitudes. Musgo Florido in Spanish. Far from being a moss however, this is a plant that survives in extreme alpine and arctic environments.

Silene acaulis, at 2900m close to the summit of Pico de Clarabide.

Silene acaulis, at 2900m close to the summit of Pico de Clarabide.

 

Back down in the valleys, another common flower is the beautiful Dactylorhiza maculata, an orchid type known as Satirión Manchado in Spanish and Heath (or Moorland) Spotted Orchid in English. Sometimes debatable whether it’s more of a white flower than a red one – or an in-between pink – the examples we came across this year were generally closer to red (..pinkish red?) though the flower below is definitely on the paler side..

Dactylorhiza maculata, a pale Satirión from Valle de Remuñe at about 1900m.

Dactylorhiza maculata, a pale Satirión from Valle de Remuñe at about 1900m.

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About coldspringdays

Éireannach is ea mé, i mo chonaí insan Spáinn. Rugadh mé i lár na tuaithe, ar feadh blianta bhí mé ag teitheadh uaithi, i bhfad as an tuath, ach sa deireadh d'fhill mé, ar ais go dtí an tuath.. An Irishman am I, settled in Spain. Born was I in the middle of the country, for years I ran from it, far from the country, but in the end I returned, back to the country..
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3 Responses to Flowers of the Pyrenees – Flora Pyrenaica II, Red

  1. Very informative and lovely photos. We passed through the Navarra part of the Pyrenees on our way back in July and we with to return to explore more. Very few wild flowers down in the south in August and some hotter than usual weather! Look forward to see more of your botanical journeys!

    • Thanks! Lots more to come, yellow, white etc. And yes, we’re not overly embarrassed by abundant wildflowers in Summer in the center of Spain either..once the sun begins to beat down, vegetable life really gets hit. So different from the Pyrenees..

  2. Pingback: Flowers of the Pyrenees – Flora Pyrenaica V, Purplish-Pinky-Violet | coldspringdays

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