Edelweiss & company (Alpine Flora)
Edelweiss is probably the best known flower on the Alps. As you will discover during your Alpine tour, many others are perfectly adapted to this hostile environment.
Be aware that many of Alpine flowers are rare and protected by Swiss law, so respect the nature.
Plants have deployed many inventive resources to survive at these high altitudes.
The bright colours of the mountain meadow flowers are not there by chance, they are vital to their survival and reproduction. In the first place, the pigments protect them from the intensive ultra violet rays found at high altitude. Secondly, weather conditions often prevent insects from flying, so the plants cannot afford to waste a moment of precious pollination time. The colours attract the insects without which they could not reproduce.
As glaciers melt, they leave behind unstable, stony ground, with no water and no nutrients. And yet within just a few years, specially adapted plants manage to colonise this apparently hostile terrain. Mosses move in first, producing a thin layer of humus when they die, which gives a chance to another species to take root. The greatest problem for these pioneers is not so much the lack of soil as the constantly moving ground: even the tiniest plants anchor themselves with roots that can be a meter long, and their underground shoots are always ready to put out new sprouts if they find themselves buried by rolling stones.
Plants growing on rock faces have developed various strategies to deal with water shortage. The poor soil is unable to retain moisture, and the sun beating down on the cliffs soon removes what is left. Strong winds, common at high altitude, would dry out the leaves of normal plants. But the ones here have developed different coping strategies. Some are covered in hairs, which deflect part of the sun's rays, and also form a layer of air which traps moisture, while others have a waxy coating. Alpine Flora