10 remarkable mountain plants to know absolutely.

The mountain is a wonderful ecosystem for fauna and flora, we have selected for you 10 essential mountain plants to know.  Medicinal virtues, edible plants or rarer species, discover the most interesting varieties present in our mountains. This focus will offer you a first approach to better recognize certain plants and thus better respect their environment. 

Find in our selection, the flowering period, the altitude and many precise information to have more chance to admire these different varieties in their natural environment. 

Nature has so much to offer us when we take the time to observe it better. 

- Arnica montana L.  Asteraceae

The Arnica is a beautiful orange-yellow "daisy" of 20 to 60 cm height with a robust stem which is found essentially in the meadows and the pastures of the mountains with siliceous or decalcified grounds. It is present in all the French massifs.
Altitude: from 600 to 2800 m
Flowering from June to September
It was called for a long time the "Tobacco of the Savoyards" because formerly the dried sheets replaced the tobacco.
But the plant is toxic internally and only the tincture of Arnica is used on hematomas and bruises.
The family collection of the flowers is regulated.

- Leontopidium alpinum Cass. Asteraceae

This is the Edelweiss, the silver star.
It is an amazing plant which is one of the most evolved in the plant world. The small flowers are organized in small flower heads in a woolly set that simulates a single flower.
The silvery down reflects the sunlight and protects the flower from drying out.
The flowers appear from July to September.
The Edelweiss grows up to 2500 m of altitude in sunny rocky lawns and cracks of rocks. 
It is present in the Vosges, the Jura and the Alps.
This attractive and symbolic plant is subject to regulated harvesting.
It is rare in the Pre-Alps.

- Gentiana lutea L. Gentianaceae

This beautiful yellow Gentian is a large perennial plant of meadows and mountain pastures. Its leaves are opposite, which makes it possible to distinguish it from the white Vératre, toxic plant with alternate leaves.
It can exceed one meter in height.
The bloom takes place in July, August.
One can find it until 2500 m of altitude.
Its medicinal properties are well known: One uses the dried root which is a good febrifuge and an excellent stimulant of the digestive functions.
Many aperitifs based on yellow gentian and brandies exist in the Vosges, the Jura, the Massif Central and the Alps.

Harvesting is regulated. The plant is registered on the red list of threatened species in Europe.

- Artemisia genipi Weber - Asteraceae

It is the true genepi or black genepi which grows very high in altitude until 3500 m of altitude,
It is a hairy plant of whitish green color which contains small yellowish tubular flowers in capitula. 
The true Genepi contains a strongly aromatic principle (smell of wormwood).
There are other genepis which resemble it: the woolly Genepi, the white Genepi.
It is found at high altitudes in the cracks of rocks and on moraines.
The flowering is spread out from July to September.
The Genepi is threatened by excessive harvesting and the work of altitude for some ski areas.

- Lilium martagon L. Liliaceae

It is the Martagon Lily, very aesthetic species which can measure more than one meter in height.
It is a bulbous species which is too often torn off by the walkers to decorate the gardens.
The pink-purple flowers punctuated with purple roll upwards and give off a strong smell. The flowers are grouped in clusters.
One finds this lily until 2000 m of altitude in fresh and rocky places, the meadows and the moors with Rhododendron.
The flowering is spread out from June to August.

The collection of this Lily is strongly regulated.

- Cypripedium calceolus L. - Orchidaceae

It is the mythical Sabot de Venus that everyone hopes to meet.
This Orchid of big size( 20 to 80 cm) stands with 1 or 2 flowers by stem.
The flower, typical of the Orchids, presents brown purple petals grouped in helmet and a bright yellow labellum in the shape of hoof.
Insects get temporarily trapped in the hoof and come out with pollen to pollinate other flowers.
The flowering spreads from May to July in the clearings of the beech-fir forests.
The too closed environments are unfavorable to him.
It is very rare in the Pyrenees. It can be found in the limestone mountains and is totally protected nationally.
In spite of its protected status, bulbs and flowers are still collected.

In addition to the forbidden collections, the Venus hoof is threatened by the natural closure of the clearings, so the forest management plans must take into account more aerated woodlands and the maintenance of the clearings.

- Rhododendron ferrugineum L - Ericaceae

The Rhododendron ferrugineux is an evergreen shrub that can exceed 
1 m high. It grows between 1500 and 2000 m of altitude at the limit of the subalpine stage.
This very branched shrub has oval leaves whose lower side is of rust color. 
The flowering takes place from June to August. The numerous flowers are of a luminous red what gives to the mountain an exceptional coloration on big surfaces.
The flowers give off a very pleasant wandering smell. It is also called the Alpine rose laurel.
This Rhododendron grows on acidic and humus soils and is not very present in the limestone mountains where another species takes over: the Shaggy Rhododendron.

It is a shrub which gains ground when the high mountain pastures are abandoned.

- Dryas octopetala L. - Rosaceae

This Dryade is a cousin of the roses with the particularity of having 8 petals flowers.
Its small persistent leaves look like oak leaves. The Dryade is also called Chênette.
The white flowers, 2 to 4 cm wide, appear from May to August depending on the altitude. 
The plant develops in screes and limestone grasslands between 1200 and 2500 m of altitude.
The Dryade is characteristic of the cold environments, as such it gave its name to a geological period, the Dryas, period of cooling related to the last glaciation (from -14000 to -9000 years)

In the uses, the plant was used for its sheets and was used as Tea in the Alps.
Today it is protected in many regions.
It plays a role in the abrupt slopes to consolidate the screes

- Erythronium dens-canis L. - Liliaceae

The Erythronium dens-canis is rare and very vulnerable if its bulb in the shape of a dog's canine is pulled out!
This plant has two opposite leaves with reddish spots.
In spring it will be one of the first flowers to break through the snow cover.
The purple-pink flower is formed of 6 tepals that stand upright.
At low altitude, it is located in the clear undergrowth of the deciduous trees, the edges and shaded slopes.
It can also be found up to more than 1500m of altitude in pastures and lawns in full light.
It is a very vulnerable species because it is the object of many takings especially in spring at low altitude.
It is the object of a regulation of gathering. Foresters must take its presence into account in their management plans.

- Eriophorum Scheuchzeri Hoppe - Ericaceae

This Scheuchzer's cottongrass lives in large colonies in peaty or swampy soils. 
The female flowers, not very visible when young, develop beautiful white and cottony tufts, visible in July and August. The seeds can thus be disseminated by the wind.
Eriophorum means "wool carrier".
The plant, 10 to 40 cm high, develops in the acid bogs of altitude.
In the past, these "wool carriers" were collected to be used as stuffing for pillows and cushions.

These plants are associated with the protection of wetlands and bogs.
Indeed, all the drainage operations and the creation of water reservoirs for the snow of cultures can weaken these hygrophilous populations.

Here you are, you now know everything about mountain plants, we hope that our selection will allow you to recognize some varieties during your next hikes in the mountains.