Flora of the Slovak Paradise

The Slovak Paradise is a truly unique botanical paradise. Not only 1,000 species of higher plants grow in various types of forest, rocky, meadow and wetland habitats, but also 200 species of lichens and 350 species of bryophytes.

Žltohlav najvyšší
Žltohlav najvyšší (photo Stanislav Paluch)

A specific phenomenon of the Slovak Paradise is climate inversion. Under normal conditions, it is warmer at lower altitudes and the climate cools with increasing altitude. In our gorges it is the opposite. It is colder and more humid at the bottom of the gorges, in some places the sunlight almost does not reach, and in higher positions on the edges of the plains it is hot and dry on the limestone rocks.

The vegetation reflects this climatic peculiarity, so cold-loving plant species, which are normally found in high mountain locations, grow at the bottom of ravines. On the contrary, we can find heat-loving plant species on prominent rocks at a higher altitude.

On the ridges and cliffs, we can notice sparse stands of pine. They represent the remains of ancient forests that have survived in this area since the end of the Ice Age.

Kortúza Matthioliho
Kortúza Matthioliho
Kortúza Matthioliho
Kortúza Matthioliho (photo Jaroslav Racek)

Lime-loving beech forests are the most widespread forests of the Slovak Paradise. They grow on steep rocky slopes. In addition to beech, fir, spruce and many other trees often grow in them.

The Slovak poniklec blooms in early spring days. This symbol of the Slovak Paradise can be found in the logo of the National Park Administration.

Poniklec slovenský
Poniklec slovenský (photo Peter Olekšák)

At the end of May, we can rarely spot the queen of Slovak orchids, the slipper worm, in the clearings of limestone beech trees. The large, interesting yellow-brown flowers are similar in structure to a hose.

Črievičník papučkový
Črievičník papučkový (photo Karol Bača)

Narrow floodplains of rivers and streams in colder locations are inhabited by mountain alder floodplain forests. They are dominated by gray alder and spruce with wetland vegetation, which is adapted to occasional floods and a constantly high groundwater level.

The Slovak Paradise is home to the richest population of an important relic from the Ice Age of the Siberian lynx in Slovakia. A stout, up to 1.5 m tall plant catches our eye at first sight in the summer when it blooms.

Jazyčník sibírsky
Jazyčník sibírsky (photo Alena Vydrová)

The Slovak Paradise does not have many meadows, but their botanical quality is exceptional. European rarities include the Kopanecké meadows, where you can count 74 species of higher plants on an area of one square meter. We can find endangered species of orchids in several places.

The most impressive experience is to see the blooming carpets of saffron in early spring.

Šafran spišský
Šafran spišský (photo Peter Olekšák)

The karst territory of the Slovak Paradise is sometimes affected by forest fires. A wonderful plant, very rare in Slovakia, appears on the cremation site, the Czech pakost. Black seeds sit in the soil for decades, waiting for their opportunity to germinate after a fire.

Pakost český
Pakost český (photo S. Hermann)