Wednesday 12 July 2017

Mt. Črna prst with Queen of the Alps

A few days ago we hiked on mount Črna prst (1844 m), just south of Bohinj in northern Slovenia. This mountain is known as a "flower sanctuary" and has a famous botanical reputation, dating back to the 19th century. It is also part of the Triglav National Park, Slovenia's only national park. The walk to this mountain in mid summer takes you through a true alpine botanical garden. On our way we encountered some of the most typical mountain flowers of Slovenia, including several rare and localised species. One of the most famous plants of this mountain is the Queen of the Alps or Alpine sea holly Eryngium alpinum, growing only at a few sites on the grassy slopes around the mountain. Elsewhere in Slovenia it was almost completely extirpated due to intense collecting. Nowadays it is only found on a few other mountains in the Julian Alps (see this post from 2015) and is thus a very rare and endangered species in Slovenia.
It was exciting to find 25 specimen on a grassy slope, out of the conventional trekking paths. The best time to see this plant in flower is late July and August. So we were lucky to see some specimen already well developed and with the characteristic bluish tinge that makes this flowers so attractive.
In the next photos are some impressions of the Queen of the Alps and the flora encountered on our way. As an exception, in this post we will mention English names of some flowers along with the usual Latin; we found an interesting new booklet on the flora of Črna prst, with English translations: Dakskobler I., Strgar P. (2017): Flora of Črna prst and its botanical trail. Turizem Bohinj, Stara Fužina. It is a very useful reference for the professional or amateur botanists visiting this mountain!
Queen of the Alps - Alpine sea holly Eryngium alpinum
The ridge of Črna prst with its characteristic dark soil (marlstone) in the front from which the mountain got its name (črna prst = black soil).
Round-headed rampion Phyteuma orbiculare
and Silvery crane's bill Geranium argenteum
Silvery crane's bill Geranium argenteum - one of the most characteristic flowers on Črna prst; other known localities in Slovenia are in the Krn mountain range and on Breginjski Stol.
Oxytropis neglecta  on the black marlstone near the summit.
Shaggy hawkweed Hieracium villosum and Saxifraga crustata
Vanilla orchid Nigritella rhellicani
Cream clover Trifolium noricum
Heracleum austriacum ssp. siifolium
Heracleum sphondylium ssp. pollinianum
Scorzonera rosea
Alpine leek Allium victorialis
Edelweiss Leontopodium alpinum
Zois' bellflower Campanula zoysii
Endemic species of the Southeastern Alps (mostly Slovenia).
Phyteuma sieberi & Saxifraga crustata (leaves)
Yellow mountain saxifrage Saxifraga aizoides
Carniolan lily Lilium carniolicum and Rose root Rhodiola rosea
Clustered bellflower Campanula glomerata
Round-leaved wintergreen Pyrola rotundifolia
Hairy alpenrose Rhododendron hirsutum
Yellow foxglove Digitalis grandiflora
Giant bellflower Campanula latifolia
Rare in Slovenia, with only a few known localities.
Long beechfern Phegopteris connectilis
Northern slopes of Črna prst descending towards the Bohinj valley.
Alpine marmot Marmota marmota
View to the north with Bohinj in the valley and the Triglav mountain chain in the back.
Mt. Triglav (2864 m), Slovenia's highest peak.
View on mount Lisec with False helleborine Veratrum album and Rosa pendulina in the front.
View from Črna prst to the west on the Lower Bohinj mountains (Spodnje Bohinjske gore).

On Črna prst we also encountered some animals that are worth mentioning, including: Alpine Marmot Marmota marmota (close to the summit), Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris, Alpine Chough Pyrrhocorax graculus, Water Pipit Anthus spinoletta and a singing Corncrake Crex crex on the mountain's south-facing grassy slopes. In the forest we heard Black Dryocopus martius and Grey-headed Woodpecker Picus canus, Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula and Crossbill Loxia curvirostra.
For more info and photos about Črna prst see this post from 2015.