Western Rodopi Mts

Western Rhodopi Mountains

The Western Rhodopi are a mountain range, situated in Southern Bulgaria, on the border with Greece. The highest peak in this part of the mountain is Golyama Syutka (2186 m). The climate is montane to alpine, depending on the altitude. The underlying rocks are mostly siliceous, but in some places marble is also present. The most characteristic vegetation type in the region are the coniferous forests, which cover vast areas. They are presented by forests of Norway spruce (Picea abies) and Scot’s pine (Pinus sylvestris). Among the forests there are areas with grassy vegetation, usually managed as mountain hay meadows. One habitat with small cover but of particular interest is that of the sphagnum bogs, which is very rare in this country. The Western Rodopi Mts are recognized as an Important Plant Area.


© Boris Assyov

The Bulgarian endemics are not numerous, but some of them are rather characteristic, namely Geum rhodopaeum, Poa jordanovii, Sedum kostovii, and Viola rhodopeia.

Several Balkan endemic species are present in the area; of them most interesting are Allium melanantherum, Angelica pancicii, Aquilegia nigricans, Armeria rumelica, Asyneuma anthericoides, Campanula lanata, Cardamine barbaraeoides, Carum graecum, Cerastium moesiacum, Chamaecytisus absinthioides, Cirsium appendiculatum, Crocus veluchensis, Digitalis viridiflora, Heracleum verticillatum, Pastinaca hirsuta, Pinguicula balcanica, Polygala rhodopea, Saxifraga sempervivum, Scabiosa triniifolia, Silene roemeri, Thymus albanus, and Veronica rhodopaea.

Several orchids are seen in the area, namely Cephalanthera rubra, Corallorhiza trifida, Dactylorhiza cordigera, D. incarnata, D. saccifera, D. sambucina, Epipactis atrorubens, Gymnadenia conopsea, Listera ovata, and Neottia nidus-avis.

Other rare or threatened species are Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, Astragalus alopecurus, Drosera rotundifolia, Galium boreale, Menyanthes trifoliata, Potentilla fruticosa, Potentilla palustris, Ranunculus fontanus, Ribes nigrum, Spiraea salicifolia, and Viola palustris.

Other notable species are Arabis procurrens, Astragalus monspessulanus, Bruckenthalia spiculifolia, Bupleurum falcatum, Campanula persicifolia, Cardamine barbaraeoides, C. rivularis, Cicerbita alpina, Dianthus superbus, Doronicum austriacum, Genista depressa, Gentiana pneumonanthe, Gentianella bulgarica, G. ciliata, Geranium macrorrhizum, G. sylvaticum, Geum coccineum, G. rivale, Lathyrus hallersteinii, Lilium martagon, Linum capitatum, Orthilia secunda, Pulmonaria rubra, Pyrola minor, Saponaria bellidifolia, Telekia speciosa, Teucrium montanum, Thlaspi ochroleucum, Thymus thracicus, Veratrum lobelianum, and Viola tricolor subsp. macedonica.


Many of the interesting plants in Western Rodopi are described and illustrated in the “Photoguide to the vascular plants in the Rhodopes”. The book is available in English.