Pyrenees Flora  






Useful external links:

            El Parque Nacional de Ordesa y Monte Perdido

            Flora of Pyrenees Orientales


Saxifraga media

Saxifraga geranioides

Daphne cneorum var. pygmaea

Androsace ciliata

Veronica nummularia

Arenaria purpurascens

Geranium cinereum

Saxifraga longifolia

Androsace laggeri

Saxifraga pubescens ssp. iratiana

Phyteuma pyrenaicum

Adonis pyrenaica

Ranunculus parnassifolius

Myosotis alpina

Viola cornuta


Pyrenees and Cordillera Cantabrica

The Pyrenees form an almost unbroken mountain chain from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean creating a natural geographic barrier between France and Spain.  The mountain range is about 400 km long and has more than 270 summits over 3000 m.  The geology is complex with sharp ridges on the main divide where granitic extrusions have thrust through more easily eroded sedimentary rock.  However limestone and resistant schist form many of the highest peaks; Monte Perdido at 3355 m is the highest limestone mountain in Western Europe.

The climate of the Pyrenees is as diverse as the geology.  The Atlantic is a major influence at the western end, pushing cool, moisture laden air streams far inland along the northern slopes in France.  The high pressure systems of the Mediterranean influence the climate of the east end of the range and rainfall decreases to the east.  The southern flanks of the Pyrenees are in rain shadow and experience hot, dry air drifting up from Spain.

The varied landscape, complex geology and diverse climate support a rich variety of alpine flora.  There are many species in the Pyrenees that are also found in the Alps but with higher average temperatures and the isolation of the range there are about 180 species that are endemic. Because of the rainfall disparity between the some of the dry Spanish slopes and the much wetter French side of the range, the plants in one country are often very different to those at a similar altitude on the other side of the border.  There is also a marked change in vegetation from west to east with the drier climate nearer the Mediterranean.

Some notable Pyrenean endemics are illustrated below.  Some of these plants are also found in the Cordillera Cantabrica to the west.  A selection of alpine flower hikes in the Pyrenees can be sampled by following the links above to the hikes and featured plants.

Pyrenees Hikes

            ANDORRA, Pic de la Serrera, Anemone narcissiflora

            ANDORRA Tristaina Lakes (with video),  Androsace vandellii

            ANDORRA  Pic de Casamanya (with video), Saxifraga media

            FRANCE Port de Boucharo, Androsace ciliata

            FRANCE  Montagne de Cap de Long, Petrocallis pyrenaica

            FRANCE  Cirque de Troumouse (with video), Saxifraga longifolia

            SPAIN (Benasque) Tuca de Possolobino, Androsace villosa

            SPAIN (Benasque)  Tuc dera Escalata, Arenaria tetraquetra

            SPAIN (Nuria) Pic de Noucreus, Ranunculus parnassifolius

            SPAIN (Nuria) Coma de l’Embut, Viola diversifolia

VIDEOS of Pyrenees and other mountain flora hikes can be found here