Vitosha Mt

Vitosha Mountain

Vitosha is a dome-shaped mountain in Western Bulgaria, adjacent to the country’s capital Sofia. Its highest peak is Cherni Vruh (2290 m). The climate is more or less alpine, with relatively low temperatures through the year and long-persisting snow cover. The basal rocks are mainly volcanic, but calcareous terrains are present on some lower parts of the slopes. The vegetation has several well-outlined altitudinal belts. The lowest one – of the oak forests is highly influenced by human activities and the natural vegetation there is highly degraded. Higher on the slopes are situated hornbeam and mixed deciduous forests, followed by beech forests. At higher altitudes natural coniferous forests are developed of Norway spruce (Picea abies) and Scot’s pine (Pinus sylvestris). In some spots the Macedonian pine (Pinus peuce) is present and in many places artificial coniferous plantations also occur. The subalpine vegetation above the tree line is present by communities of Dwarf juniper (Juniperus sibirica) and subalpine grasslands. Vitosha is designated as a Nature Park and is selected for the network of Important Plant Areas.

Vitosha

© Boris Assyov

The Bulgarian endemics are very few and the most notable of them are Jasione bulgarica and Leontodon rilaense. Primula deorum  is also known to occur in Vitosha Mt, but it is unlikely that the plant is native here.

More numerous are the Balkan endemics and the following are worth mentioning: Acer heldreichii, Allium melanantherum, Angelica pancicii, Aquilegia aurea, Armeria rumelica, Campanula moesiaca, C. sparsa, C. velebitica, Cardamine barbaraeoides, Cirsium appendiculatum, C. heterotrichum, Crocus veluchensis, Dianthus cruentus, D. microlepis, Digitalis viridiflora, Festuca valida, Heracleum verticillatum, Hesperis dinarica, Knautia midzorensis, Lathyrus alpestris, Pastinaca hirsuta, Pedicularis hoermanniana, Peucedanum aegopodioides, Pinguicula balcanica, Pinus peuce, Scabiosa balcanica, S. triniifolia, Senecio pancicii, Sesleria comosa, Silene roemeri, and Silene waldsteinii.

A number of orchids are present in the area and at least the following may be mentioned: Corallorhiza trifida, Dactylorhiza cordigera, D. saccifera, Epipactis palustris, Gymnadenia conopsea, G. frivaldii, Listera cordata, L. ovata, Neottia nidus-avis, Nigritella nigra, Orchis morio, O. tridentata, O. ustulata, Platanthera bifolia, P. chlorantha, Pseudorchis albida, and Traunsteinera globosa.

Other rare or threatened species are Anemone narcissiflora, Campanula transsilvanica, Cryptogramma crispa, Drosera rotundifolia, Gentiana lutea, G. punctata, Lilium jankae, Pyrola rotundifolia, Swertia perennis, and Trollius europaeus.

Further species of interest are Astrantia major, Achillea clusiana, A. grandifolia, A. lingulata, Acinos alpinus, Aconitum lycoctonum, A. variegatum, Arenaria biflora, Astragalus glycyphylloides, Botrychium lunaria, Bruckenthalia spiculifolia, Campanula alpina, C. persicifolia, Cardamine barbaraeoides, C. rivularis, Carduus kerneri, Centaurea kotschyana, C. uniflora, Cicerbita alpina, Dianthus superbus, Digitalis grandiflora, D. viridiflora, Doronicum austriacum, Genista depressa, Gentiana asclepiadea, G. nivalis, Gentianella bulgarica, Geranium coeruleatum, G. macrorrhizum, G. sylvaticum, Geum coccineum, Hieracium sparsum, Huperzia selago, Hypericum umbellatum, Jovibarba heuffelii, Lilium martagon, Matricaria caucasica, Moneses uniflora, Orthilia secunda, Pedicularis verticillata, Pleuropteropyrum undulatum, Polystichum lonchitis, Potentilla ternata, Prenanthes purpurea, Primula elatior, P. farinosa, Pulmonaria rubra, Pyrola media, Ranunculus platanifolius, Ranunculus serbicus, Salix lapponum, S. waldsteiniana, Scabiosa balcanica, S. triniifolia, Senecio abrotanifolius, S. papposus, Silene lerchenfeldiana, Soldanella pindicola, Streptopus amplexifolius, Tanacetum macrophyllum, Thalictrum aquilegifolium, Thymus vandasii, Tozzia alpina, Trifolium pannonicum, Vaccinium uliginosum, Valeriana tripteris, Veratrum lobelianum, Veronica bellidioides, and Viola dacica.