The flora of the Dolomites UNESCO World Heritage Site has always been an exceptionally rich and fascinating realm to discover: there are lots of varieties you can admire while exploring the different altitude belts, from field flowers such as bluebells, orchids and cardoons, to plants of Siberian origin like the renowned Edelweiss.
The main features which distinguish the so-called Dolomitic flora are, to one side, the very high number of species and, to the other, the fact that some of them are really unique in their kind. There are at least 1,400 types of plant life with flowers and plants with leafs, trunk and roots (vascular flora) falling just in the territory of the Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park. Moreover, the number seems to double if you consider the nine nominated systems making up the serial property and the valley floors as a whole.
Among the many endemic species scattered around the nine systems are the following: the Campanula morettiana, whose range of distribution is limited to an altitude of more than 1,000-2,000 m, growing inside cracks on vertical rocks which are refreshed by wet-air drafts; the Saxifraga facchinii found on rocky ambient at an altitude of 2,400-3,340 m; the Primula tyrolensis located between 900 and 2,600 m of altitude on gravelly and rather wet surfaces.
Among the extremely rare plants we can also count the type of orchid called Nigritella buschmanniae which grows on the Trentino side of the Dolomiti di Brenta, as well as the Arenaria huteri, sited in the Parco Naturale Paneveggio-Pale di San Martino. Another protected species is the Papaver alpinum rhaeticum, a perennial yellow-flowered plant distributed on altitudes of more than 3,000 m and found in the nature parks Fanes-Sennes-Braies, Pale di San Martino and Dolomiti di Sesto.
The landscape of the Dolomites UNESCO World Heritage Site presents an outstanding variety of plants and colors, mostly engendered by the geo-morphological and microclimatic diversity of this region. From the valley bottoms to the slopes, covered with forests, up to the high-altitude Alpine pastures where you can observe high elevation blooms, there is an exceptional change of scenery according to the season. On the lower altitude belts the woods mainly comprises broadleaf trees which, moving upwards, mingle with conifers and beech trees. The upper belt consists in conifers: the Norway spruce (particularly abundant in the sparse wood of the Vallunga in the Parco Naturale Puez-Odle and in the Paneveggio Forest in Trentino), larch and the Swiss stone pine form the belt which comes before the zone dominated by mugo pines, by shrubs like rhododendrons and, on much elevated areas, by dwarf willows.