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Alpine Flowers of Switzerland

Updated on December 2, 2016
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Swiss Alpine Flowers—The Jewels of the Alps

Swiss Alpine flowers in full bloom are one of the loveliest sights you can see in the Alps mountain range. The best time to see the Alpine flowers of Switzerland is in early and mid-summer, when bright blossoms will surround you in the meadows and high rocky ground of the Alps mountains.

A short ramble up any mountainside at this time of year will reveal many different Swiss mountain flowers, including all kinds of primroses, heathers, gentians, daisies, bellflowers and buttercups. As you go higher, passing through the treeline and up to rocky paths and glacier lakes, you have the chance to see rarer flower species that thrive away from populated areas.

I was once lucky enough to spend a whole summer in the Swiss Alps. A few years ago, I returned to Switzerland, staying in Zermatt—a little town high in the Alps close to Switzerland's border with Italy. I share with you here some of the Swiss alpine flowers that I encountered during that visit.

Caution: Endangered and Poisonous Flowers

Many Swiss alpine flowers are protected and several are endangered.

While it might be tempting to gather up a pretty bunch while out walking, please don't. In the delicate ecosystem of the Alps, every flower does count. If you want a souvenir—take a photo.

Besides, some of these flowers are also poisonous (a few highly poisonous).

Alpine Meadow Flowers—Switzerland
Alpine Meadow Flowers—Switzerland | Source

Violet Flowers: Shades From Pale Lilac to Deep Purple

Violet coloured alpine flowers include the pretty aster, which I saw on my first nature walk in Zermatt. You might also see violet colored primroses (Sticky Primrose, Alpine Snowbell). The endangered German Gentian is also a striking violet shade, quite different from the vivid blue Spring Gentian pictured further below. Higher up in rocky areas, you may find Alpine Toadflax.

Some of the deep purple flowers are poisonous, including Common Monkshood and the Pasque Flower. I did not encounter these.

Alpine Aster—Pretty lilac or pink colored daisy-like bloom
Alpine Aster—Pretty lilac or pink colored daisy-like bloom | Source
Chamois Ragwort—Sunny yellow mountain flower
Chamois Ragwort—Sunny yellow mountain flower | Source

Yellow Flowers: Sunshine at Your Feet!

You can find yellow flowers from the daisy, rose, primrose, gentian and buttercup families in the Alps. I came across the sunny Chamois Ragwort (pictured above) and also encountered another member of the daisy family, the Golden Hawksbeard, on high rocky ground.

Arnica is quite a widespread and innocent looking flower that is in fact poisonous, as is the pretty Globeflower. Less attractive but even more poisonous is Wolfsbane—I didn't see these flowers during my own walks but it serves as another reminder not to pick Swiss alpine flowers, or indeed mountain flowers anywhere in the Alps of Europe.

Alpine Plants of Europe: A Gardener's Guide
Alpine Plants of Europe: A Gardener's Guide

Now you'll never be stumped about a flower, just look it over in this beautiful guide for a quick identification. How about growing these lovely alpines in your own garden? This is the book to find out how.

 

Blue Flowers: Gentians, Bellflowers, and Buttercups

Most blue flowers you will see in the Swiss Alps will belong to either the gentian or the bellflower family. Gentians, such as the Spring Gentian (pictured), are all protected. Although the Spring Gentian has separated petals, other gentians resemble trumpets and bells. I discovered Trumpet Gentians in the mountains around Zermatt.

All varieties of bellflower in the Alps live up to their name by resembling hanging bells. I saw the common but lovely Fairy's Thimble bellflower during my mountain walk.

One blue flower I didn't see was the protected Alpine Clematis, which belongs to the buttercup family.

Spring Gentian—Mountain flowers in a vivid blue
Spring Gentian—Mountain flowers in a vivid blue | Source
Alpine Rock Jasmine—Delicate Swiss alpine flowers
Alpine Rock Jasmine—Delicate Swiss alpine flowers | Source

Pale and Deep Pink Alpine Flowers

Many of the pink alpines belong to either the primrose or the heather family. The protected Alpine Rock Jasmine (upper picture) is a type of primrose. I found it at 3103 metres (1.9 miles) above sea level on rocky ground, where snow still lay at the height of summer. Purple Saxifrage (lower picture) is also pink, despite the name, and likewise was found on high rocky ground.

The famous Alpenrose which gives its names to countless hotels is a deep pink rhododendron. Other pink flowers you might see include Moss Campion, Mountain Thrift, Sowbread (a type of cyclamen), Mountain Houseleek, and Spring Heath. As with other colors, most pink alpine flowers are protected. A couple are poisonous.

Purple Saxifrage—Swiss mountain flowers with tiny pink blooms
Purple Saxifrage—Swiss mountain flowers with tiny pink blooms | Source

Delicate White Blooms: From Edelweiss to Christmas Rose

Some of the prettiest flowers in the European Alps are white, including the famous Edelweiss, which is the national flower of Switzerland—though forever linked with Austria for viewers of The Sound of Music! The Christmas Rose is one of several white alpine buttercup varieties, whereas the Mountain Avens is a true rose.

There are two white varieties of saxifrage - Mossy Saxifrage is pictured and was found on high rocky ground. Swiss Rock Jasmine (seen earlier in pink) can also be pure white.

The curiously named Scheuchzer's Cotton Sedge is found beside water. That pictured was growing beside the Riffelsee alpine lake, high in the mountains above Zermatt.

Mossy Saxifrage—Small and Delicate
Mossy Saxifrage—Small and Delicate | Source
Scheuchzer's Cotton Sedge
Scheuchzer's Cotton Sedge | Source

Red Flowers in the Swiss Alps: An Unusual Sight

Unless you count the cheerful geraniums displayed on every chalet balcony, you might have to look long and hard to see a true red flower in the Swiss Alps.

I was lucky enough to spy the rarely-seen (and wonderfully named!) Black Vanilla Orchid in high grassland. Perfectly matching the black and red theme was a visiting Burnet Moth!

Another Book for Lovers of Switzerland's Natural Beauty

Switzerland is one of the country's most loved and admired countries. From sparkling glacier lakes to mountain meadows and snow-capped peaks, it's packed with natural beauty. Find out more about the natural wonders that Switzerland offers in Quest for the Sublime: Finding Nature's Secret in Switzerland.

Some Beautiful European Alps Flower Photography

© 2009 Indigo Janson

Do you love nature walks in alpine scenery? - Share your thoughts here!

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  • sheilamarie78 profile image

    sheilamarie78 2 years ago

    Such a beautiful hub! Voted up.

  • profile image

    bugtrap 3 years ago

    Lovely!!

  • RobertConnorIII profile image

    Robert Connor 3 years ago from Michigan

    Looks like a nice place to see!

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    MoonshineMutts 3 years ago

    My favorite hike in the world is in the Swiss Alps - listening to the cowbells clanging around me! Amazing!

  • WriterJanis2 profile image

    WriterJanis2 4 years ago

    Beautiful images.

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    cmadden 4 years ago

    Hmm, I think I'd enjoy wandering through an alpine meadow even with hay-fever! Beautiful flowers lens.

  • Fox Music profile image

    Fox Music 4 years ago

    Thanks for sharing this lens "Alpine Flowers of Switzerland"

  • GregoryMoore profile image

    Gregory Moore 5 years ago from Louisville, KY

    What a beautiful country. I was there in college with nothing but a backpack. Hard to believe that was 20 years ago.

  • indigoj profile image
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    Indigo Janson 5 years ago from UK

    @craftycollector: Ah but the Jura must be a wonderful place to live, with the mountains all around.

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    craftycollector 5 years ago

    Yes, it makes me nostalgic for spring in the mountains - its autumn here in the Jura now, and there are not so many flowers.

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    Indigo Janson 5 years ago from UK

    @mrsclaus411: Me too.. What could be nicer on a summer's day?

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    mrsclaus411 5 years ago

    Very lovely lens. These flowers are so beautiful, they make me want to be in an alpine meadow now.

  • indigoj profile image
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    Indigo Janson 5 years ago from UK

    @anonymous: I agree, pretty much all flowers are beautiful. Except the ones that smell of rotting flesh (forget their name)... I'd find it hard to stop and admire them. :)

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    Renaissance Woman 5 years ago from Colorado

    So gorgeous! The loveliness of these alpine flowers and the Swiss scenery takes my breath away. Zermatt is now on my wish list. Thank you for gracing my day with such exquisite beauty. Very much appreciated!

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    anonymous 5 years ago

    Nope I really love those flowers all kinds of flowers to be exact. We don´t have many wild flowers here but they are nice enough. Very dry area here.xxx

  • Powder White profile image

    Powder White 5 years ago

    With the warm weather lately there should be some great blooms going on. I'll contact some our chalet hosts in the Alpes and find out if they can spot any Alpine flowers.

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    anonymous 5 years ago

    Happy April Fools Day!

  • rob-hemphill profile image

    Rob Hemphill 5 years ago from Ireland

    My sister lives in Switzerland, and on ocassional visits to the country, there is nothing better than long walks taking in the stunning alpine scenery.

  • DonD LM profile image

    DonD LM 5 years ago

    What a beautiful place for vacation. Hopefully I and my family will be able to make it this summer in Switzerland. Excellent lense.

  • flicker lm profile image

    flicker lm 5 years ago

    Yes, seeing those beautiful flowers sure did make want to be there! Thanks. :)

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    Fay Favored 5 years ago from USA

    Very lovely. My sister has always wanted to see this place. The flowers are beautiful. Nicely done.

  • dahlia369 profile image

    dahlia369 6 years ago

    Beautiful and blessed! :)

  • mariaamoroso profile image

    irenemaria 6 years ago from Sweden

    Wonderful and rare flowers. Edelweiss too. Blessings

  • jptanabe profile image

    Jennifer P Tanabe 6 years ago from Red Hook, NY

    Beautiful lens about these beautiful Alpine flowers. My daughter visited the Swiss Alps last summer, made me jealous, and now I want to go all over again!

  • efriedman profile image

    efriedman 6 years ago

    Loved it. I had one day (not one summer!) in Alps above Engelberg near Luzern. Amazingly beautiful

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    anonymous 6 years ago

    The Swiss alpine flowers make me want to wander through the meadow, just beautiful, I would love to be there right now :)

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    anonymous 6 years ago

    Gorgeous apline flowers - bow wow!

  • indigoj profile image
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    Indigo Janson 6 years ago from UK

    @efriedman: Yes, start of June is pretty much the start of the Summer in the Alps and a good time to see the flowers.

  • efriedman profile image

    efriedman 6 years ago

    Beautiful places. You mentioned early to mid- summer for alpine blooms. What calendar time marks the start of summer at that altitude - beginning of June?

  • ForestBear LM profile image

    ForestBear LM 6 years ago

    Great photos! Love the Swiss alps and your lens made me want to go there again! Just became your fan

  • RuralFrance profile image

    RuralFrance 6 years ago

    Beautiful photos! I'm waiting for the orchids to flower here at the moment :)

    Thanks for visiting my lenses and your comments.

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    Mary Norton 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    Truly beautiful. Will be back again next spring to enjoy these.

  • BubblesRFun profile image

    BubblesRFun 6 years ago

    The Spring Gentian are absolutely beautiful....Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

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    anonymous 6 years ago

    Oh, I sure would love to wander through an Alpine meadow for sure, beautiful!

  • sukkran trichy profile image

    sukkran trichy 6 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

    what a lovely picture collection. these swiss alpine flowers are very very attractive. particularly the swiss alpine aster is simply superb.

  • Michey LM profile image

    Michey LM 6 years ago

    My favorite... you can guess it for sure... edelweiss and purple saxifrage.

    Great lens

    Regards

  • indigoj profile image
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    Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

    @anonymous: Thanks :)

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    anonymous 7 years ago

    NICE

  • indigoj profile image
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    Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

    @naturegirl7s: Thanks for such a kind comment Naturegirl.

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    Yvonne L. B. 7 years ago from Covington, LA

    I see you've added so much since the last time I visited. It was outstanding before, but it's even more beautiful and informative now.

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    Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

    @triathlontraini1: Gorgeous aren't they? Thanks for your kind comment.

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    triathlontraini1 7 years ago

    Wow, beautiful flowers! I love mountain flowers. It's always surprising to find a meadow of colorful flowers, just around the bend.

  • indigoj profile image
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    Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

    @tssfacts: Oh yes, I love that pure mountain air and the beautiful alpine meadows... Thanks for visiting!

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    tssfacts 7 years ago

    What beautiful flowers and pictures. I can just smell the fresh air of the Swiss Alpine as I read this article.

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    Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

    @justholidays: Oh I'd never get tired of an alpine meadow of flowers. So happy you like them too, especially as it means you don't need to go anywhere near the mountains! ;)

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    justholidays 7 years ago

    Had to come back to enjoy looking at those wonderful and amazing blue flowers! Definitely an eternal enjoyement!

  • indigoj profile image
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    Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

    @jolou: Very true, Joanne. If only we all had such scenery on our doorsteps. Thanks for your visit!

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    jolou 7 years ago

    I love flowers and love the mountains too! And nature walks are wonderful too. It's wonderful to talk such walks, they are good for the soul.

  • indigoj profile image
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    Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

    @Bellezza-Decor: So glad you enjoyed them, Mia. I'd love some in my own garden.

  • indigoj profile image
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    Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

    @RuthCoffee: Thanks Mulberry, it was certainly a pleasure to have the chance to take them.

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    Bellezza-Decor 7 years ago from Canada

    Beautiful alpine flowers. I even had a few in my garden at one time.

  • RuthCoffee profile image

    RuthCoffee 7 years ago

    Beautiful photos and they make great stickers. That Burnet moth is pretty interesting too.

  • indigoj profile image
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    Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

    @KarenTBTEN: When I researched this one, it was interesting to find that some of the same mountain flowers grow in North America as here in Europe. I bet there are some beautiful mountain meadows in the Rockies too.

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    KarenTBTEN 7 years ago

    I could wander through an alpine meadow. Never been to the Als, but I've seen quite a few of those same flowers elsewhere.

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    Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

    @LadyFlashman: Thanks for the compliment, Lucy, and best of luck with the Edelweiss seeds.

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    LadyFlashman 7 years ago from United Kingdom

    Swiss alpine flowers are just so preciously beautiful. I bought some Edelweiss seeds in a supermarket when I was there in the Summer, I don't know if they will grow here but it's worth a go! I love your photos, very pretty lens!

  • indigoj profile image
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    Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

    @HorseAndPony LM: You must get some beautiful flowers there in Colorado, perhaps not so different from the ones on this page? Thanks for visiting.

  • HorseAndPony LM profile image

    HorseAndPony LM 7 years ago

    This was beautiful. I am so ready for some flowers. We are going to document some of our new Colorado flowers this year and of course press some. Love this lens.

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    dc64 lm 7 years ago

    The Scheuchzer's Cotton Sedge are my favorites on this page. They look so unusual, I can only imagine how a field of them must look.

  • indigoj profile image
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    Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

    @dc64 lm: Yes, they are like balls of cotton wool. As you can see, my camera couldn't focus on them at all.

  • indigoj profile image
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    Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

    @Addy Bell: Yes, no Photoshopping required with those! They really are that dazzling. Thanks for visiting, Addy.

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    Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

    @ElizaRayner: Thanks so much, I really appreciate that and can't wait to see your page. Your lenses are always so lovely.

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    Eliza Rayner 7 years ago from Boulder, Colorado

    Im back to this page again to say that I have added it to my newest page - a few of my favorite things. Thanks!

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    Addy Bell 7 years ago

    That Spring Gentian is an unbelievable color. Beautiful.

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    Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

    @OhMe: Thank you very much. I hope you get the chance to visit.

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    Nancy Tate Hellams 7 years ago from Pendleton, SC

    This is so beautiful. I have never been to the Swiss Alps but have always wanted to go. I love the way you did the colors in your background to match the flowers.

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    Mary Beth Granger 7 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

    Beautiful flowers...love those blue flowers. Congratulations on 50! Blessed.

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    norma-holt 7 years ago

    Beautiful lens. My visit to the Swiss alps was late summer so I never saw any wild flowers. Beautiful country and very nice presentation. Love the pics. 5* and fave

    Norma

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    Eliza Rayner 7 years ago from Boulder, Colorado

    beautiful page. I love alpine flowers, we had the best blooms this last summer in colorado due to all of the rain we had in spring.

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    ulla_hennig 7 years ago

    Wonderful flowers - remind me of my holidays in the Bavarian Alps. Great lens!

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    Cynthia Arre 7 years ago from Quezon City

    The flowers are gorgeous! I don't think we have any of those blooms you featured here in our tropical country so I loved seeing the photos. Congrats on making 50! *woot* (:

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    Patricia 7 years ago

    I love the beautiful flowers!

  • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

    Kathy McGraw 7 years ago from California

    Absolutely breathtaking.....your pictures are gorgeous, and what a beautiful lens to have for your 50th one :) I really loved Switzerland when I went, and you have captured this small piece of it, the flowers way better than even my memories.

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    kimmanleyort 7 years ago

    Yes! I visited the Italian Alps this year and your Zermatt lenses brought back memories. Your photos are gorgeous and I love the way you matched the text boxes with the flower colors. Had no idea that so many were poisonous. Congratulations on #50!