Mountain wild flower mania

Cyril and I spent last weekend with Cyril’s lovely aunt and uncle in Die, France (pronounced Dee). We spent a day hiking from the Col de Rousset ski resort to the Parc naturel regional de Vercours.  It was a lovely, long hike, with decent elevation changes, even though we were on a plateau.

The view driving up to the plateau in the morning was a bit ominous with the fog spilling over the cliffs.

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Luckily the fog cleared up after an hour or two. On the way back it was fun to see the view we had missed on the way there.

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At times, it was so pastoral on the top of the plateau as to be ridiculous, with the baaing of sheep, mooing of cows, and ringing of cow bells. We also encountered some herding dogs along the trail. They rendered the scene a little bit less idyllic when they came up aggressively barking and snarling in order to protect their flock. We had to slowly back away and take a little detour to avoid them.

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Not as cuddly as he looks…
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Almost there!

 

After three hours we made it to our goal, the Plaine de la Queyrie, a high prairie (Altitude 1800 m, 6,000 ft) with a single majestic tree.  We were thrilled when we saw the tree because we weren’t sure if it was still going to be there. Cyril’s uncle had heard that it had been cut down. The prairie was impressive because I have never seen such an immense, green space without any sign of humans or human development.

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A very huggable tree
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The view from the other side.

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Gophers were the real kings of the area. We spotted several, and more often heard their sharp barks echoing through the mountains.

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Gopher!!

My favorite part was the wildflowers! The diversity, especially on the Plaine de la Queyrie, was astounding.

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I would have spent a lot more time taking photos of the flowers, but we had a train to catch back to Paris that evening and we couldn’t dawdle.

If you know the names of any of the unlabeled plants let me know. Also, feel free to correct me if I mislabeled something; sometimes the species are difficult to tell apart! 🙂

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Hoary Plantain Plantago media L., medicinal plant
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Fairy’s thimble Campanula cochlearifolia
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A thistle obviously… but I have no idea what kind!
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Brown Knapweed Centaurea jacea
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The closely related Perennial cornflower Centaurea montana, medicinal
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Fringed pink Dianthus monspessulanus: With the deeply fringed petals I didn’t recognize it as a dianthus at first!
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All-heal Prunella vulgaris, medicinal, flowers used for brewing tea, leaves used for salads
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Mouse-ear hawkweed Hieracium pilosella, medicinal and allelopathic (secretes chemicals into soil to keep other plants from growing around it)
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Alpine aster Aster alpinus
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Hyssop-leaved mountain ironwort Sideritis hyssopifolia, medicinal and used for tea
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Cheese rennet Galium verum Dried plants used to be used to stuff mattresses, in cheese production, as a dye, and for making a Danish spirit
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?? Rock thyme Acinos alpinus ?? medicinal, and used to brew tea
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Edelweiss Leontopodium alpinium: Edelweiss is one of the most beloved, unique flowers of the alps!
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Common yarrow Achillea millefolium, traditionally medicinal
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Probably the most common flower I saw up there, it loved the spaces inbetween rocks. Alpine lady’s mantle Alchemilla alpina
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These lovely seed heads remain a mystery to me!
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????
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I have these in my garden at my parents’ house: Pincushion flower Scabiosa sp?
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Mountain St. John’s wort Hypericum montanum
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??? but even its dried-up flowers are beautiful!
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Creeping baby’s breath Gypsophila repens
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The grass was gorgeous too, it lent a reddish hue to the tops of the gentle hills in the valley
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Our last stop before the car, at the highest slope of the ski resort

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One thought on “Mountain wild flower mania

  1. Pingback: Goodbye France! – Erin in Paris

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