The Flora of the Krkonose

The Flora of the Krkonose

The flora of the Krkonose Mountains is very rich and varied owing to the geological foundations, articulate terrain and the complicated development following the Glacial epoch. Glacial relicts (species originating in the Glacial epoch) certainly deserve attention, such as the cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus), lousewort (Pedicularis), the Krkonose rowan (Sorbus sudetica) and the bellflower (Campanula bohemica), the last two of which are endemic (do not occur elsewhere).

Vegetation belts

Montane (up to 1,200 m a.s.l.)

This belt abounds in spruce forests, earlier with the mountain form of spruce prevailing which reached up to 1200 m a.s.l. in ideal conditions. The plant growth is made up of the bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), Alpine coltsfoot (Homogyne alpina), chickweed wintergreen (Trientalis europaea) or the wavy hair-grass (Deschampsia flexuosa). Abundant are also mosses, lichens and fungi. Wet sites are preferred by the Alpine blue-sow-thistle (Cicerbita alpina), Adenostyles alliariae with its large leaves, rattlesnake root (Prenanthes purpurea), wood ragwort (Senecio nemorensis) and the male fern (Dryopteris filix-mas). The strongest trees, growing at the highest altitudes, attacked by gusts of wind and blasted by frequent ice and snow particles, show branches growing in one direction, with the tree top damaged and originally lateral branches growing upwards. Clearings, free of trees, are the most interesting sites in term of botany. The mountain pansy (Viola lutea subsp. sudetica), mountain arnica (Arnica montana), the common bistort (Persicaria bistorta), bellflower (Campanula bohemica) and the endemic hawkweed species occur here.

Submontane (below 800 m a.s.l.)

Natural forest, with prevailing spruce monoculture, rarely mixed forest with prevailing beech, sycamore maple, ash or alder. The plant undergrowth is made up of ramson (Allium ursinum), drooping bittercress (Dentaria enneaphyllos), herb Paris (Paris quadrifolia), wood anemone (Anemone nemorosa) and martagon (Lilium martagon). Subsoils poorer in minerals are attractive for herb-rich beech forests as well as for acidophilous beech forests, such as in Dvorsky les forest.

Dwarf pine – Subalpine (above 1,200 m a.s.l.)

Some of the most valuable ecosystems have been preserved here, with rare plant communities and species. They include dwarf pine growths, open areas of water sources and peat bogs, the world of corries and nivation hollows with their well-known “gardens” (such as Krakonosova zahradka). The harsh climate, low temperatures and the endless cycle of thawing and freezing of the soil surface is what creates the so-called Krkonose tundra. It is dominated by grasses, namely matgrass (Nardus stricta), sedge and small-reed grass (Calamagrostis villosa), and just like in the remote northern areas also by blueberries, bilberries and other Vaccinium species, or bog-rosemary (Andromeda polifolia). The cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus) is a local glacial relict. In September, the blue flowers of the willow gentian (Gentiana asclepiadea) can be seen.

Alpine – above 1,500 m a.s.l.

Only five highest mountains in the Krkonose fall within the true Alpine belt, with a very poor plant community. The vegetation period only lasts for three months a year. Typical species are the three-leaved rush (Juncus trifidus), spiked woodrush (Luzula spicata), hawkweed, Veronica bellidioides and the white alpine pasqueflower (Pulsatilla alpina subsp. austriaca).