In the Kingdom of the Orchids

Very special botanical treasures bloom around the Aualm in Filzmoos. Amongst the 25 different types of extremely rare orchids here, you’ll find the butterfly orchid, marsh orchid or black orchid. A wonderfully beautiful summer’s day, a gently gurgling stream - at the nearby alpine hut everyone’s busy. We’re standing in the midst of a green meadow. A few blooms, herbs and grasses wave in the wind. The cows lie amid them ruminating peacefully. There’s nothing out of the ordinary in sight. Or is there? Mountain hiking guide Coen Weesjes from Filzmoos Aktiv smiles: “Hardly anyone expects to see orchids up on an alpine pasture. Most people have the exotic flowers standing at home, but in the great outdoors they really are quite rare.”The native born Dutchman, who has found his adoptive home in Filzmoos, guides interested holiday-makers and nature-lovers to the small botanical treasures around the Aualm and he’s particularly keen is to open his guests’ eyes to all things small, beautiful and nondescript. Armed with this knowledge, suddenly an array of rare flowers, healing herbs and orchids appear out of the grass.

The Leckkogel in Filzmoos at the foot of the imposing Bischofsmütze offers the ideal conditions for the occurrence of orchids - here there’s a transition in rock formation from slate to limestone with very lean pasture and moor meadows. The yellow lady’s slipper, which according to the red list is endangered, grows between the Hofpürglhütte and the Hofalm at an altitude of 1,400 and 1,600 m. Also in the Aualm area you’ll find the nondescipt twayblade, the purple-coloured common spotted orchid and the greater butterfly orchid, of which there are only 7 types in Europe, yet over 50 types in Asia. Many of the orchids are small, just a few centimetres tall and only reveal their full beauty when you look closer. The particularly interesting thing about the orchids here in alpine high-altitude areas is that they have adapted perfectly to their surroundings. They survive with less warmth. As up here there aren’t many insects or bees for pollination either, a number of orchids such as the black orchid have developed the ability to clone themselves.

“On the flanks of the Leckkogel there are around 25 different, partly very rare types of orchid. That’s quite unique and mentioned in specialist literature“, adds Coen Weesjes, who sets out looking for colourful beauties every year. “It’s always a very special, joyful moment if you happen to discover a yellow lady’s slipper or a Styrian black orchid. And guests, who aren’t really into flowers, are also fascinated immediately. “   A particularly rare type of orchid, the Styrian black orchid was discovered for the first time in summer 1904 in Ausseerland. It was first seen in Filzmoos in 1966  – the Leckkogel being one of only twelve places where the plant grows. “From the beginning of July you have the opportunity to discover the Styrian black orchid here for yourself“, says Coen Weesjes, who enjoys the passion of discovery in summer. “Near the Sulzkaralm there are a handful of these wonderful orchids.” You just need to keep your eyes open.

Info & Tip: 

The Aualm area in Filzmoos is easily accessible, the walks are also suitable for children and inexperienced walkers. Filzmoos Aktiv also offers guided “Alpine Flower” hiking tours.

The text comes from the book “Best Views in SalzburgerLand – 66 favourite places and 11 alpine huts“ by Franziska Lipp (Gmeiner Publishers, 2014).By kind permission from the author.

Photo credits: Franziska Lipp