Flowers of the Pyrenees – Flora Pyrenaica III, Yellow

Yellow, countless wildflowers bloom in this colour..well, surely botanists have counted them, but i haven’t. Just looking thru the lists of Flora Pyrenaica there are hundreds. Here are a few..

Lilium pyrenaicum, flower of many names, Valle de Remuñe at 2300m.

Lilium pyrenaicum, flower of many names, Valle de Remuñe at 2300m.

Lilium pyrenaicum, known in English as Pyrenean Lily, Yellow Martagon Lily or Yellow Turk’s-cap Lily, in Spanish as Lirio Amarillo, Lirio or Azucena de los Pirineos, and in French as Lis des Pyrénées. As many of these names suggest, it is principally found in the Pyrenean range though it does appear in other European ranges. While it is a very visible flower, growing as high as a meter from the ground, it is relatively uncommon..this Summer we came across it just once in ten days of activity.

Another large yellow flower (up to 50-60cm) which is not especially common is Trollius europaeus, in French Trolle des Montagnes or Trolle d’Europe and known as Calderones in Spanish. It fascinated me when i first saw it years ago, and still does. It’s the flower that never seems to open – what you see in the foto is not some pre-bloom stage, that’s how the flower is.

Trollius europaeus, another favourite, here at 2100m in Vallibierna.

Trollius europaeus, another favourite, here at 2100m in Vallibierna.

 

Staying with plants on the larger side of life, next up is Doronicum grandiflorum, classified as relatively rare and with no popular names in either English or Spanish (Doronic à grandes fleurs in French, Doronico dei macereti in Italian). Nevertheless, i seem to come across it regularly enough in the Central Pyrenees, and when you do find a plant or cluster of plants, you can expect to see 10-20 individual flowers.

Doronicum grandiflorum, at 2400m in Valle de Remuñe.

Doronicum grandiflorum, at 2400m in Valle de Remuñe.

 

A flower often confused with Doronicum is Arnica montana, commonly known as Arnica and widely cultivated for medicinal purposes. Unfortunately it is reported to be increasingly difficult to see it in the mountains..i myself have come across it very infrequently in Pyrenees, perhaps somewhat more often in Alps. While the flower is very similar to Doronicum, the stem and the base leaves are quite different.

Arnica montana, at 1950m in Vallibierna..one of the few times i have seen it in Pyrenees.

Arnica montana, at 1950m in Vallibierna..one of the few times i have seen it in Pyrenees.

 

Those who visit the alpine tundra of the Pyrenees, and particularly areas of loose limestone surface, gravel or small stones, where practically nothing grows, may be lucky enough to come across Crepis pygmaea, usually a small terrain-hugging plant. The bright yellow flowers, reminiscent of dandelions, stand out like the moon in the night sky while the dull greyish-green leaves blend in almost mimetically with the surrounding stones.

Crepis pygmaea, at 2600m in the Sierra Negra.

Crepis pygmaea, at 2600m in the Sierra Negra.

 

And just one more.. this one a flower which – unlike the majority of the plants presented here – is also to be found readily in the mountains of the Sistema Central: the Great Yellow Gentian, Gentiana lutea, in Spanish Genciana Amarilla. Very different from the small blue gentians, this plant grows to over a meter tall and appears in extensive colonies both in grassy areas  and among the rocks.

Gentiana lutea, great yellow gentian, Valle de Estós at 1800m.

Gentiana lutea, great yellow gentian, Valle de Estós at 1800m.

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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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