• carlina acaulis
  • bankplatz aussicht
  • hochstauden

  • eryngium alpinum
  • delphinium
  • offener zug
  • richtung rank
  • sommerpracht
  • visavis kalkschutt

Description / Garden plan

The Schynige Platte Alpine Garden is a very special botanical garden. As the first of only a few in the whole of the Alps, it displays plants in their natural communities and, as far as possible, all plants found above the treeline in Switzerland.
Over the summer around 650 species, approximately two-thirds of all Swiss Alpine flora, can be admired. Walking along easy paths in a compact area (1 km with approximately 40 m height difference) and without having to climb several summits, you can view the Alpine plants in tranquillity, take pictures and learn the names from the labels.
In 1928, over 8000 m² of Alpine pasture was fenced in for the Botanical Alpine Garden, ending centuries of use as farming land. The diverse, condensed topography in a variety of exposure levels, creates a large variety of ecological conditions and thus also plant communities. The largest area is taken up by blue sesleria, rusty sedge scree and milkwort pastures, also the plants most commonly found in the area. These have been added to by small plantings of species native to such plant communities in other regions of Switzerland.

The entrance to the Botanical Alpine Garden is immediately next to the summit station of the Schynige Platte Railway. The circular tour takes from 30 minutes to 4 hours (main path 420m, with side paths approx.1 km) depending on the interest of the visitor. Guided tours are also available on request.

alpengarten pano

Blue Sesleria Scree

These meadows are found on south-facing slopes at the upper treeline. They are rich in flowers and other plant species. Often with over 50 different species per square meter, including edelweiss.
Ecology:
The steep, south-facing slopes are found above hard limestone in the area of the upper treeline.  Large stones are interspersed amongst the ground cover. The meadow is stepped in places because the blue moor grass and the rusty sedge hold back debris.
Distribution:
Throughout the Swiss limestone Alps from a little below to considerably above the treeline.
In the Alpine Garden:
On all south-facing slopes where the limestone is exposed (e.g. just after the entrance to the gardens.
Uses:
Seldom used in alpine agriculture. The slopes are too steep and not productive enough to be used as grazing meadows. However several species of wildlife are found here.
Important plants, common names:
Alpine aster, thistle, villous hawkweed, alpine kidney vetch, horseshoe vetch, hare's ear, clusius' gentian, edelweiss, bird's foot sedge, blue moor grass, common house leek, fescue, bentgrass.
Important plants, scientific names:
Aster alpinus, Carduus defloratus, Hieracium villosum, Anthyllis alpestris, Hippocrepis comosa, Bupleurum ranunculoides, Gentiana clusii, Leontopodium alpinum, Carex sempervirens, Carex ornithopoda, Sesleria caerulea, Sempervivum tectorum, Festuca quadriflora, Agrostis rupestris.

Blaugrashalde Leontopodium alpinum Blaugrashalde Aster alpinus
Leontopodium alpinum  - Edelweiss Aster alpinus - Alpine Aster

Rusty Sedge Scree

Many kinds of flowers and other plant species grow in this meadow. However, the flowers are often hidden under the drooping leaves of the sedge and other grasses. This habitat is usually found on steep, north-facing slopes at the upper treeline.
Ecology:
Sedge meadows are located on calcareous stone mixed with clay, which results in a good water supply. Mostly found on steep slopes, as with the blue moor-grass meadow. Often north-facing, in places with the appropriate stony substratum and partial seepage of "Bergschweiss" (very little water seepage from the ground). Sometimes also south-facing.
Distribution:
Widespread in the Swiss limestone Alps in the area of the treeline.
In the Alpine Garden:
Located on steep, east-facing slopes, e. g. between the rock outcrops above the path leading back to the entrance. This area is regularly mowed to remove the numerous blades of grass.
Uses:
It is often mowed for use as wild hay. The plant species are productive thanks to the good water supply and clay content. Today such meadows are only cultivated by enthusiasts, resulting in a noticeable decline in the production of wild hay.
Important Species, common names:
Sedge, blue moor grass, cock’s foot, red fescue, yellow gentian, red clover, brown clover, Astragalus frigidus, Alpine french honeysuckle, leafy lousewort, greater burnet saxifrage, Bergpippau...hawk’s beard.
Important Species scientific names:
Carex ferruginea, Sesleria caerulea, Dactylis glomerata, Festuca rubra, Gentiana lutea, Trifolium pratense, Trifolium badium, Astragalus frigidus, Hedysarum hedysaroides, Pedicularis foliosa, Pimpinella major, Crepis bocconei.

Rostseggenhalde Crepis bocconei Rostseggenhalde Pusatilla alpina
Crepis bocconei-Mountain Hawk's-beard Pulsatilla alpina-White Alpine Pasqueflower

Milkwort Pasture

Lush green meadows on gentle slopes with various species of grasses and herbs. Occasional vibrant displays of flowers. Good fodder for the alp pastures grows here.
Ecology:
Nutrative, clay-rich soil. The plants have enough water at their disposal throughout the summer. There is an annual (possibly biennial) fertilisation with dung. However, the typical sea milk wort meadow survives in similar form even without fertilisation.
Distribution:
Throughout the Swiss Alps where the soil is rich. More likely to be found in level areas, often near alp huts, where the area is regularly fertilised with dung.
In the Alpine Garden:
Sea milk wort meadows can be found in the more level areas. Regular mowing replaces the grazing that took place there in the past.
Uses:
Regularly intensively grazed. When the area is not grazed, dwarf-shrubs and sometimes trees begin to grow there. After many years of this, the meadow will disappear from the habitat.
Important Species, common names:
Alpine meadow grass, red fescue, alpine cat’s tail, rough hawkbit, golden hawk’s beard, stemless gentian, mountain lovage, purple crocus, alpine plantain, common moonwort.
Important Species, scientific names:
Poa alpina, Festuca rubra, Phleum alpinum, Leontodon hispidus, Crepis aurea, Gentiana acaulis, Ligusticum mutellina, Crocus albiflorus, Plantago alpina, Botrychium lunaria

Milchkrautweide Crocus albiflorus Milchkrautweide Liguticum mutellina
Crocus albiflorus - White Crocus Ligusticum mutellina - Alpine Lovage

Matgrass meadow

This habitat contains meadows on gentle slopes, low grasses, and several colourful flowering herbs. Early in the summer, the meadows look slightly yellowed since the more predominant matgrass begins to die at this time.
Ecology:
Matgrass is predominant on soil that is acidic, overused and nutrient-poor. On granite, gneiss, and iron sandstone there is a very species-poor population. The soil is found on calcarous rock and is therefore lacking in nutrients.
Distribution:
There are species-rich populations only in the limestone Alps and in the Jura, mostly far from alp huts. It can also be found on a limestone-free ground in the central Alps region.
In the Alpine Garden:
The matgrass meadow has changed the most since it has ceased to be grazed by cattle. The vegetation has developed to be more like a sea milk wort meadow. Annual grazing by sheep has not yet led to the regeneration of the matgrass meadow habitat.
Uses:
Grazed regularly by cattle and sheep for many years but without fertilising the soil. If not grazed for a long time, first  the more demanding herbaceous plants then the dwarf-shrubs take over the habitat. Over a lenthy period of time (more than 50 years) a forest can develop beneath the tree line if this habitat is allowed to get overgrown.
Important Species, common names:
Mat grass, arnika, alpine avens, small white orchid, fragrant orchid, purple gentian, trumpet gentian, golden cinquefoil, common tormentil, whortleberry, moorberry, common heather, bearded bellflower
Important Species, scientific names:
Nardus stricta, Arnica montana, Geum montanum, Pseudorchis albida, Gymnadenia conopsea, Gentiana purpurea, Gentiana acaulis, Potentilla erecta, Potentilla aurea, Vaccinium myrtillus, Vaccinium gaultherioides, Calluna vulgaris, Campanula barbata.

Borstgrasweide Campanula barbata Borstgrasweide Arnica montana
Campanula barbata - Bearded Bellflower Arnica montana - Mountain Arnica

Windy ridges

Ridges where the winter snow stays for only a short time. Dries out very quickly in summer. This   phenomenon is a result of the unique rock formation with species of grass (bog sedge), dwarf-shrubs (Alpine azalea) and lichens. Amazing species diversity.
Ecology:
Mostly shallow soil with scanty nutrient and water supply. The fine soil is erroded by the strong winds that are often found in this area. The most important ecological factor is the short period of time that the habitat is covered with snow in the winter. The plants found here thus have to be able to endure  low temperatures and rapid evaporation.
Distribution:
Only above the treeline in the Swiss Alps. Found in varying formations on all types of rock .
In the Alpine Garden:
Only found in a small area in the garden, above the limestone subsoil. A small level area has survived above a rock slide.
Uses:
Unlike other habitats, it is not used for alpine farming. Important as a shelter for wildlife, especially in the depths of winter when the entire landscape is covered in snow.
Important Species, common names:
On all kinds of rocks: Wind edges
On limestone: edelweiss, spring anemone, bird’s eye primrose, Alp lily
On silicate: trailing azalea, Alpine marguerite, lichens.
Important species, scientific names:
On all kind of rocks: Elyna myosuroides
On limestone: Leontopodium alpinum, Pulsatilla vernalis, Primula farinosa, Lloydia serotina
On silicate: Loiseleuria procumbens, Vaccinium gautherioides, Leucanthemopsis alpina, Flechten (Cetraria ericetorum, C. cucullata a.o.).

Windeck Pulsatilla vernalis  Windeck Astrantia minor
Pulsatilla vernalis - Spring Pasqueflower Astrantia minor - Small Masterwort
                         

Calcareous scree

On the slopes, plants can only be found underneath rock faces; the vegetation is invisible from a distance, however, as you approach the rock, you can see the brightly-coloured blossoms concealed underneath.
Ecology:
The most important factor is the constant shifting of the rocks, particularly in spring when the subsoil is saturated with water from the snowmelt. In order to survive, plants need to regenerate easily, bear the spreading of their roots and survive damage to their leaves.
Distribution:
Widespread in different formations all over the Alps from the valley floor to beneath the peak. Usually found on a bed of limestone.
In the Alpine Garden:
This area has been created artifically with debris of different degrees of coarseness.  Annual care is necessary to repair the constantly shifting debris beneath the rock face.
Uses:
Only grazed by wildlife. Where accessible, such screes can be used for extracting gravel.
Important Species, common names:
Round-leaved penny-cress, dark milfoil, shield dock, large-flowered leopard’s-bane, Alpine toadflax.
Important Species, scientific names:
Thlaspi repens, Achillea atrata, Rumex scutatus, Doronicum grandiflorum, Linaria alpina.

Kalkschutthalde Ranunculus glacialis  Kalkschutthalde Linaria alpina
Ranunculus glacialis - Glacial Crowfoot Linaria alpina - Alpine Toadflax

Calcareous rock

From the distance, it looks very hostile to vegetation, however, on closer inspection, youcan see many little plants that are well adapted to the location growing from small cracks and crevices in the rock. Some plants have colourful blossoms.
Ecology:
Only a small amount of fine soil, a marginal store of water, little nitrogen and phosphorus are available in the cracks. The plants are constantly exposed to the wind, however, the roots are protected in the cracks, which also serve to retain water, keeping the plants hydrated.
Distribution:
Widespread in the limestone Alps, but the biodiversity varies from peak to peak.
In the Alpine Garden:
The rock is typical for the region.
Important species, common names:
Alpine erinus, spring whitlowgrass, Swiss androsace, broad beech fern, alpine wormwood, Aurikel.
Important species, scientific names:
Erinus alpinus, Draba tomentosa, Androsace helvetica, Asplenium ruta-muraria, Artemisia umbelliformis, Primula auricula.

Kalkfels Primula auricula Kalkfels Gentiana clusii
Primula auricula - Auricula Gentiana clusii - Trumpet Gentian

Dwarf-shrub heath

Small shrubs about 30 centimetres tall. Found in the area of the treeline. Different species grow in different parts, depending on the type of rock found in the area. Some have many flowers, some few. Bilberries also grow in the dwarf-shrub heath.
Ecology:
The ecology differs from rock to rock. Dwarf-shrubs found on limestone rock grow in a thin layer of soil. These plants are well adapted to drought, though they benefit from the climate near the ground (in an espalier). Different dwarf-shrubs can be found on rocks that contain either little or no lime. The soil on these rocks in usually richer in nutrients and has a better water supply.
Distribution:
The dwarf-shrubs can be found on the treeline with or without trees nearby. They are found in different formations throughout the Swiss Alps, depending on the rocks on which they grow.
In the Alpine Garden:
Small areas of different dwarf-shrub heath occur naturally throughout the Alpine Garden.
Uses:
Black grouse, woodhen and snow grouse eat the fruit and buds that grow in the dwarf-shrub heath. Billberries are also harvested for human consumption.
Important species, common names:
Alpenrose, bilberry, crowberry, bog billberry, black crow berry, Alpine colt foot, winter heath, box-leafed milkwort, common rock rose oder Alpine rock rose, hairy alpenrose, mountain avens.
Important species, scientific names:
Rhododendron ferrugineum, Vaccinium myrtillus, V. vitis-idaea, V. uliginosum, Empetrum hermaphroditum, Homogyne alpina
Erica carnea, Polygala chamaebuxus, Helianthemum nummularium spp. grandiflorum, H. alpestre, Rhododendron hirsutum, Dryas octopetala.

Zwergstrauchheide Dryas octopetala  Zwergstrauchh. Rhododendron hirsutum
Dryas octopetala - Mountain Avens Rhododendron hirsutum - Hairy Alpenrose

Green alder shrub

The green alder shrubs, which can grow to 3 metres tall, form a dense roof of leaves. Tall blooming forbs grow underneath this canopy. The shrubs were planted in the Alpine Garden 70 years ago.
Ecology:
This shrub is found on steep, north-facing slopes, beneath rocks and in avalanche gullies. Tall forbs grow between the green alders in order to benefit from the nitrogen fixed on the actinomycetales of the alder roots.
Distribution:
The green alder shrub is widespread in wetter areas of the Alps.
In the Alpine Garden:
The green alders and tall forbs have been planted in the Alpine Garden.
Uses:
Firewood, shelter for wildlife.
Important species, common names:
Green alder, monkshood, large-leafed sneezewort, common adenostyles, blue sow thistle, Alpine lady fern, male fern.
Important species, scientific names:
Alnus viridis, Aconitum vulparia, A. paniculatum, Achillea macrophylla, Adenostyles alliariae, Cicerbita alpina, Athyrium alpestre, Dryopteris filix-mas.
 
Grünerlengebüsch Alnus viridis Grünerlengebüsch Cicerbita alpina
Alnus viridis - Green Alder Cicerbita alpina - Blue Sow-thistle

Tall forb meadow

The same shrubs that grow beneath the green alders also prosper in hollows where snow remains for a longer period of time. Dust accumulates on them and provides fertiliser for the growing plants.
Ecology:
Found in hollows, on avalanche slopes and in gullies, where nutrients and water are abundant.
Distribution:
These meadows are usually found in wetter areas of the Alps. Similar combinations of species can be found underneath green alders, beech groves and fir and spruce forests.
In the Alpine Garden:
The milkwort meadow has been planted with tall forbs.
Important species, common names:
Alpine larkspur, monkshood, common andenostyles, giant knapweed, yellow wood violet, wood stitchwort.
Important species, scientific names:
Delphinium elatum, Aconitum vulparia, A. napellus, Adenostyles alliariae, Stemmacantha rhapontica, Viola biflora, Stellaria nemorum.

Hochstaudenflur Delphinium elatum Hochstauden Blaudistel
Delphinium elatum - Alpine Larkspur Eryngium alpinum - Alpine Eryngo

Alpine pasture

Around the alp huts and at places where cattle lie and ruminate for long periods, the soil becomes over fertilised with nitrogen. Many tall shrubs grow in these areas, most with inconspicuous greenish blossoms.
Ecology:
These ecosystems are usually found in areas that are over-fertilised by nitrogen, such as grazing pastures or below the ramps leading out of the alp cowshed.
Distribution:
Alpine pastures are found where there are cattle, often in hollows where the cattle  shelter from the wind or on hilltops where the animals stay in hot weather.
In the Alpine Garden:
The alp pasture is fertilised annually with dung.
Uses:
In the past, it was used to feed pigs. Today, it is rarely used. An alp pasture survives for many years, as long as the fertilizer has not been washed out. There are still alp pastures in the Swiss National Park, even though there have not been cattle there since 1917.
Important species, common names:
Monk’s rhubarb, Good King Henry, monkshood, hllow stemmed gagea, intermediate corydalis.
Important species, scientific names:
Rumex alpinus, Chenopodium bonus-henricus, Aconitum napellus, Gagea fistulosa, Corydalis intermedia

Läger Chenopodium bonus henricus Läger Rumex alpinus
Chenopodium bonus-henricus - Good-King-Henry Rumex alpinus - Monk's Rhubarb

Medicinal plants

Many plants are used for medicinal puposes or in herbal teas. There are also highly toxic plants that may only be used under the instruction of a medical practitioner.
Ecology:
Since medicinal plants are selected for their usefulness to humans, species of all kinds of ecological requirements can be found in this category.
Distribution:
Medicinal plants can be found in almost every plant community and in almost every region.
In the Alpine Garden:
This section has been added on artificially.
Important species, common names:
Arnika, yellow gentian, lady’s mantle, mountain lady's mantle, black wormwood.
Important species, scientific names:
Arnica montana, Gentiana lutea, Alchemilla vulgaris, A. conjuncta, Artemisia genipi.

Heilpflanzen Gentiana lutea Heilpflanzen Aconitum napellus
Gentiana lutea - Yellow Gentian Aconitum napellus - Common Monk's-hood

Vegetation of siliceous soil

Unlike the Central Alps, there are no lime-free rocks on Schynige Platte. However, 70 years ago, granite and gneiss as well as sand and soil were brought here from the Haslital valley. Plants that only grow naturally in the Valais, the Gotthard region and the Engadin can thus be seen here in the Bernese Alps.
Ecology:
All species exisiting here grow well on the lime-free soil. Unfortunately, many different plant communities cannot be found in their natural communities because of the artificially created areas.
Distribution:
Fields of primary rocks can be found in the central Alps on granite and gneiss, and also in the limestone Alps on rocks either deficient in lime or completely lime-free (sandstone from the Hohgant "Hohgantsandstone", iron sandstone, Gault clay, etc.).
In the Alpine Garden:
The entire field has been artificially created with granite and gneiss from the Haslital valley
Uses:
The uses depend on the plant community. Primary rock fields can be used as rough pasture but there are also unused areas.
Important species, common names:
Swiss willow, Alpine rose, Alpine androsace, yellow vitaliana, moss campion, red Alpine primrose, Haller’s groundsel, groundsel/ragwort, dwarf scorpion grass, glacial wormwood.
Important species, scientific names:
Salix helvetica, Rhododendron ferrugineum, Androsace alpina, Androsace vitaliana, Silene excapa, Primula hirsuta, Senecio halleri, S. incana, Eritrichium nanum, Artemisia glacialis.

Urgesteinsfeld Androsace vitaliana Urgesteinsfeld Sempervivum wulfenii
Androsace vitaliana - Yellow Alpine Rock-jasmine Sempervivum wulfenii - Wulfen's House-Ieek

Snow bed

Special conditions exist in places where snow remains for a long time in the spring. The snowless period sometimes lasts fewer than 8 weeks and on very rare occasions doesn’t happen at all. Plants thus have to bloom and bear fruit very quickly. These plants are often very low to the ground.
Ecology:
The development is different on silicate than on limestone. The water and nutrient supply are very good but the growing season is too short for ample growth.
Distribution:
Snowbed plants can be found in the upper Alpine level in hollows, in places where snow cornices develop and where snow from avalanches accumulates.
In the Alpine Garden:
These species have been planted in those places where snow stays the longest.
Important species, common names:
On limestone: rock cress, snow dock
On silicate: dwarf willow, sibbaldia, lady’s mantle, snowbell.
Important species, scientific names:
On limestone: Arabis caerulea, Rumex nivalis
On silicate: Salix herbacea, Sibbaldia procumbens, Alchemilla pentaphyllea, Soldanella pusilla.

Schneetälchen Soldanella alpina  Schneetälchen Saxifraga stellaris
Soldanella alpina - Alpine Snowbell  Saxifraga stellaris - Starry Saxifrage

Alpine bog

Bogs develop in hollows with no drainage, in the area of the tree line. A high biodiversity with large and conspicuous flowers can be found, especially where there is a trickle of calcareous water.
Ecology:
Which species grows in which area depends heavily on the quality of the water and the length of time that the soil is wet. Bogs with calcareous water usually have more species. Bogs with lime-free water have very few species.
Distribution:
Bogs are found throughout the Alps, usually  where springs bubble up or in hollows where the water cannot drain away.
In the Alpine Garden:
A depression has been sealed with a layer of foil so that the water cannot drain away.
Uses:
The larger of these formations are used as pasture, however, the fodder is not very digestible. The rarer species are disappearing as a result of this practice.
Important species, common names:
On limestone: Davall’s sedge, carnation sedge, broad-leafed cottongrass, devil's-bit scabious, marsh felwort, bird’s-eye primrose, starry saxifrage, marsh marigold
On silicate: common black sedge and other sedge species, thread rush and other rushes, common cottongrass, Scheuchzer’s cottongrass, marsh violet.
Important species, scientific names:
On limestone: Carex davalliana, C. panicea, Eriophorum latifolium, Succisa pratensis, Swertia perennis, Primula farinosa, Saxifraga stellaris, Caltha palustris
On silicate: Carex nigra and other species of Carex, Juncus filiformis and other species of Juncus, Eriophorum angustifolium and E. scheuchzeri, Viola palustris.

Alpines Flachmoor Caltha palustris Alpines Flachmoor Menyanthes trifoliata
Caltha palustris - Marsh-marigold Menyanthes trifoliata