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Rhododendron in the pyrenees

Flowered rhododendron in june in Puigmal, Ripollés county.

Flowered rhododendron in june in Puigmal, Ripollés county.


Rhododendron(Rhododendron ferrugineum), also named alpenrose, is an abundant shrub in the Pyrenees, inhabiting subalpine forests (in preference to shady, areas of strong snow and acidic soils) and in the first part of alpine meadows, reaching altitudes of 2500m. It belongs to the ericaceae family (which includes heather) and like most of the species in the family, its leaves are evergreen. It is a plant that grows exclusively in acid soils (avoid calcareous ones), thanks to the symbiosis it has with microcorrhizae. They can reach a height of 1.5m, with a tortuous bearing. Its leaves are leathery, the reverse has reddish tones. Its characteristic pink flower, provides colorful alpine meadows during the months of June, July and August. The fruits are seeds in small capsules. Because the plant contains some toxic substances (such as rhodoxanthine, also present in yew), herbivorous animals avoid eating its leaves.


Chamois in the middle of an alpine meadow with abundant rhododendron.

Chamois in the middle of an alpine meadow with abundant rhododendron.


In addition to the Pyrenees, it is also common in other mountain systems in Europe, such as the Alps, the Jura and the Carpathians. Thus configuring a very typical landscape of the European high mountains, especially during its flowering. In the meadows where the rhododendron lives, alpine mammals can sometimes be seen feeding, such as chamois or marmots. The rhododendrons that inhabit the subalpine forests(where it matches blueberry, black pine, and white fir), reach a larger size than those of the Alpine stage, due to the harsh climatic conditions that prevail in these meadows. The association of rhododendron with blueberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) is very frequent, forming dense thickets, even in areas without black pine (Pinus unicata).


Chamois running in a meadow with rhododendrons.

Chamois running in a meadow with rhododendrons.


Tags: pirineo, pirineu, pyrenees, puigmal, ripolles, isard, rebeco, chamois



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