From the alpine meadows and rolling pastures of the Swiss Alps to the remote, arid landscape of Western Australia, the enchanting vision of countless species of wildflowers in full bloom is one of Nature's true gifts. While some are better known than others, there are many places this magnificent annual show can be experienced all over the world. Below are five of the very best. |
Every year from June through to November, the roadsides and desert plains of Western Australia come alive with their annual carpet of floral brilliance. With the largest collection on Earth, there are more than 12,000 species of wildflowers in this vast, remote state, of which 60% are endemic. The entire state is a botanical hotspot across its diverse habitat of forests, dry bushlands and extensive coastline. Popular sites to see iconic species like Hakeas, Grevilleas and Banksias are the Fitzgerald River National Park, the Stirling Range National Park and the spectacular Karri forests of the southwest.
One of the more exotic destinations on the list, the magnificent Bumthang Valley in central Bhutan is a little more off the beaten track than some other places, but very well worth the effort to get there. Over a range of altitudes and encompassing a varied landscape of forests, valleys and remote passes, the range of flora includes rhododendrons, magnolias, buddleias, elaeagnuses, primulas, pieris, cotoneasters and daphnes. The best time to visit is in spring, from March to May.
Probably the most iconic wildflower destination in the world, the Swiss Alps transform into one glorious floral display in the months from June to August. Two of the best places to view the many beautiful species of wildflowers are the Bernese Oberland and the Upper Engadine Valley. The most famous of them all is the country's national flower, the Edelweiss (Leontopodium alpinum), which grows in abundance in the rocky, high-altitude terrain.
Although not well known, the Bulgarian alpine regions are abundant with spectacular Balkan endemics, like the Haberlea rhodopensis, and a wealth of other floral species. For those willing to think a little laterally, this seldom-visited country is a botanist's dream destination, with sites like the Vitosha Mountain National Park, the Pirin Mountains National Park and the Rhodope Mountains revealing their cache of natural beauty in a surprisingly accessible way. Species growing wild in Bulgaria include the Macedonian Ragwort, the Heart-shaped Orchid and the Long-flowered Primrose.
There's no better place to encounter the proliferation of Mediterranean flora and birdlife than the island of Cyprus. With a landscape that takes in the rugged altitudes of the Troodos Mountains and the lush coastal wetlands of Akrotiri, the enduring warm temperatures support an abundance of life. In the mountains, wild orchids, rock roses, anemones, asphodels, and marigolds run riot, while in the forested areas Turban Buttercups, Cyprus cyclamen and Black Tulips are a little more reticent but just as beautiful. The spring months from March to May are the best times to see the island's many species of wildflowers.
A World of Wildflowers
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the best destinations around the world to experience the joy and beauty of floral species in full bloom. Other countries to consider include China, Spain, Portugal, Canada, USA, England, Crete, Madagascar and Austria.
Marissa Ellis-Snow is a freelance nature writer with a special interest in wildflowers. As a passionate lover of botany, Marissa chooses the expert-led flower tours organised by Naturetrek, which have brought her unforgettable encounters with a wide range of species of wildflowers in some of the most spectacular regions on Earth.
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