Characteristics of the Alps of northern Italy

The Southern Alps, located in the northern part of Italy, are folded mountains. On the Italian side, there are the Limestone Alps (Julian Alps). Limestone is a sedimentary rock that consists mainly of calcium carbonate, but also contains traces of magnesite and minerals such as clay, quartz and siderite, among others.


pH level of the soils surrounding the Alps

The soils in the Julian Alps are mainly acidic. When it rains, it washes away limestone rocks and increases the pH of the soil. As a result, the fields and soils nearby are no longer acidic, but neutral or even slightly alkaline. With good sunlight, combined with the properties of the soil, this substrate is favorable for many plants, mainly Mediterranean ones. These conditions guarantee enormous biodiversity of flora within the Limestone Alps.


You can find there, among others, edelweiss, which is a symbol of the Alps and grows on rocky slopes. Edelweiss grows in soils that have a pH level greater than 6.6. It is a light-loving and lime-loving plant, found only on alkaline soils. Edelweiss is an insect-pollinating and wind-seeding plant. The flowering period is from July to August. The middle baskets in the inflorescence are the first to bloom. The inflorescence consists of baskets gathered in the top inflorescence. Below them there are several leaves forming the sub-inflorescence cover. They are much larger than the stem leaves. Inside the baskets there are male flowers, edged with female flowers. Under the ground, it has a not very deep root system.


Edelweiss has been used in traditional folk medicine in the Alps for centuries. Extracts from various parts of the plant have been used to treat abdominal pain, respiratory diseases, heart diseases and against diarrhea. Therefore, for a long time it was also called the stomachache flower. It was also used by mountain people as a lasting flower (“eternal flower”) in dry bouquets. The cosmetics industry also uses the properties of this plant.

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