The alpine pastures
The alpine pastures begin where the shrubs gradually peter out, leaving open meadows for grazing. The plants here do not grow tall, at least above ground. Graminaceae and ciperaceae conceal very long roots and runners underground, allowing them to survive long periods of drought and grazing by herbivores in the summer. But the pastures are very colorful in the warm months, dappled with golden yellow ranunculi, gentians with their blue corollas, pale blue bluebells and alpine clover (Trifolium alpinum), with its dark pink inflorescences. And then there is the common nigritella, a tiny wild orchid with purple flowers that emit a scent of vanilla. Another very common plant in these parts is the spikenard (Nardus stricta), which can get by in difficult circumstances and whose tough leaves are not much liked by cattle. In some places, it is able to expand greatly, at the expense of other species.