The flowerings of the Tassaro valley


Val Tassaro has the flowering fauna typical of the middle Apennines. The thing that makes this valley special is that this biodiversity occurs over a relatively small territory.

Early flowering

The arrival of spring is announced by the spectacular flowering of the undergrowth, which appears already at the end of February on the soft carpet of leaves that covers the ground. The species responsible for this early explosion of colors are almost all protected by regional law, guaranteeing their conservation. This natural spectacle occurs before the crowns of the trees in the forest fully develop, making the most of the solar radiation conditions that favor plant reproduction. Near the Tassaro river, it is possible to admire the rare Bellflower, while primroses and liverworts paint the slopes with vibrant spots of intense colours.

Hellebore (Helleborus foetidus)

The whole plant is poisonous. It is a herbaceous plant that prefers plants
undergrowth environments, in areas preferably not fully exposed
Sun. It flowers in winter.

The farmers considered it a good oracle for crops: with four tufts the harvest will be abundant, with three mediocre, terrible with two. Some of these ones photographed here looks promising.

Cocksfoot (Eranthis hyemalis).

In this early and primitive buttercup, a single shoot rises from the tuber, bearing both the three goblet-shaped leaves and the flower. Emerging in the winter months, then disappearing in late spring and summer. The delicate yellow flower reopens every morning for a week. Every evening, when it is already dark, it closes.

Piè di gallo
Piè di gallo

Primula (Primula vulgaris)

The inflorescence is made up of 1 or 2 up to 20 or 30 flowers arranged in an umbel. The flowers are inserted directly into the center of the leaf rosette. It grows in grassy and wooded places such as deciduous forests and thin meadows but always in partial shade areas. They can also be found along streams.


The flowering of the violet is traditionally recognized as the “herald of spring”.

Trinity herb (Hepatica nobilis)

The leaves are 3-lobed and fleshy, almost leathery, have a dark but shiny green color and resemble the shape of a heart. When the sun is in a particular position, a triangular type of shadow can be observed behind the flower. The liverwort takes its name from ancient beliefs that believed that this species possessed healing properties for the liver. In fact, in ancient Greek the liver was “hèpar” or “hèpatos”. Its unmistakable pink-purple hue stands out forcefully against the brown background of the winter litter, literally lighting up the undergrowth with color.

Dog Tooth (Erythronium dens-canis)

It is a typical species of the undergrowth. It gives rise to thick spring blooms. It is recognizable by the showy flower head supported by a slender stem that stands out from the spotted leaves. It is a herbaceous perennial plant that bears the buds in an underground position. During the adverse season it has no aerial organs and the buds are found in an underground organ called the bulb, a reserve organ from which, every year, roots and aerial stems emerge.

Wild orchids

The diversity of environments in the Tassaro valley creates favorable conditions for a variety of wild orchids. Flowering is particularly frequent in the prairies of ancient abandoned cultivations, starting at the end of winter and persisting until the beginning of summer. In this period, the showy flower heads of the large Greater Orchid stand out. These precious blooms help to paint the landscape with delicate and nuanced tones, making the Tassaro valley an enchanting refuge for lovers of wild flora. All species of wild orchids present are protected pursuant to LR 2/1977, thus guaranteeing their conservation.

Orchis purpurea

In Italy it is widespread throughout almost the entire national territory. It can be found in oak groves, on slopes, in meadows, with calcareous soil, in full sunlight or in partial shade.

The pyramidal orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis)

It is quite common throughout Italy. It grows in prairies and garrigues, preferring dry calcareous soils and sunny exposures.

Himantoglossum adriaticum

The typical habitat for this orchid is the clear prairies, meadows and pastures of the hilly and mountainous plains; but also the stony areas, the sunny herbaceous edges of the woods and the shrubby areas not in the shade. The preferred substrate is calcareous with basic pH, soil with low nutritional values and rather dry.

Orchis simia

Its habitats are the poor meadows, the garigues and clearings of scrubland with a limestone substrate.

Limodorum abortivum

Widespread in Italy across the entire territory. The leaves are reduced to scales sheathing the stem and are poor in chlorophyll.

Bird’s Nest (Neottia nidus-avis)

This is a plant lacking chlorophyll. It lives in symbiosis with a fungus fixed to its roots. It is a one-of-a-kind orchid.


It includes more than a hundred species of orchids. The mechanism of recall of the pollinating insects implemented by the Ophrids is the result of a coevolution between these flowers, devoid of nectar, and some species of hymenoptera (mainly apids, sphecids and vespids). By virtue of this selective mechanism, each species of Ophrys has its own specific pollinator insect. Insects are attracted to the flower by a sexual lure: in fact, each species has the labellum shaped in such a way as to simulate the abdomen of the female of a specific insect, and this is associated with the production of volatile substances similar to the pherormones produced by the female in the mating phase. The male, thus called, in an attempt to “mate” with the flower (pseudocopula), loads himself with pollen which he will subsequently deposit on another flower.

Orchis provincialis

In Italy it is common throughout the peninsula and on the major islands. It prefers slightly acidic soils of meadows, bushes and woods, from 0 to 1750 m above sea level. It flowers from April to June.

Listera ovata

In Italy this orchid is quite common. It is found in the Alps and
in the Apennines. The generic name (Listera) is reminiscent of a naturalist
English, Martin Lister, while the specific one of “ovata” derives from
Latin and refers to the particular shape of its oval leaves.

This plant has always attracted the interest of the scientific community for some particular movements of the rostellum when it is touched by an insect (mechanism activated to facilitate pollination towards pollinating insects and avoid self-pollination – in fact immediately after the insect the rostellum is gone and covers the stigma); or for its ability to secrete a few drops of a viscous mucus when it is “touched” by a pollinating insect (to increase the adhesion of the pollen to the abdomen of the insect). This plant was also used by Charles Darwin for some studies on cross-fertilization.

The habitat of this plant is very variable, in fact it is one of the rustic orchids most adaptable to any type of soil. Therefore the “Listera major” can be found in broad-leaved woods, i.e. in the areas of chestnut, beech but also conifers. It can also be found near watercourses, in areas of bushes, shrubs and woodland edges, subalpine and (but more rarely) alpine meadows and pastures. The preferred substrate is both calcareous and siliceous, with neutral pH and medium nutritional values of the soil which must be on average humid.

Wild strawberry

Legumes – Nitrogen fixers

Collection of other wildflowers from the Tassaro valley