Spring Wildflowers of the Slovak Small Carpathians
Spring is my favourite season in the area of Slovakia I live in, in the west. After a grey winter, nothing sparks hope like new growth and warming temperatures. In the Malé Karpaty, spring comes on in full force. Of course, spring can lie too – this year, after a few weeks of warmth, winter returned for another few weeks.
These photos were taken within a space of about two weeks, at the end of March/beginning of April. I know, it’s May now. It takes me a while.
March showers start off the March flowers. And leaves. I don’t actually know what the first flowering bush is – anybody?
The first flower out is the delicate snowdrop, snežienka in Slovak. Once endangered, snowdrops are often picked for International Woman’s Day. Sometimes, you can find them carpeting the ground.
After the snowdrop comes the chocholačka dutá, fumewort or bird-in-a-bush. Some kind of Corydalis although I couldn’t tell you which. I can’t find out anything about it other than the name, but it grows like crazy here, carpeting the forest floor. The flowers have a strong sweet smell. The flowers are usually purple, but can also be white.
It’s hard to see below, but another flower is the lungwort flower, Pulmonaria. It has blue and pink flowers together on one plant, fuzzy almost prickly leaves with whitish dots. As the name suggests, this plant has been used to treat respiratory illnesses. As a child, lungwort grew in my grandmother’s garden; I never imagined that it grew somewhere wild or that it had medicinal properties.
Foraging bounty – lungwort, ramsons, violets, and wild onion (more like chives).
Speaking of ramsons…wild bear garlic carpets the forest floor in the spring in Slovakia. A relative of ramps in North America, these tasty plants are like garlic in a leaf. I just ate the last of my fermented ramsons buds (sooo good, especially with buckwheat) and love it in pesto (recipe). Here are more photos of ramson carpets and recipes.
And the birds. The birds come back and their song fills the forest.
On the hill behind my town is a feral cherry orchard. Cherry trees aren’t wild here, but they’ve gone feral, nobody takes care of them, so that counts, right? In spring the hill is covered with white blooms that are breathtaking. I took pictures last year too.
I came here at sunrise, hoping to get the early morning rays through the blossoms. The problem is that the sky is so hazy early in the morning that the sun is rather high before any direct light comes through. I had the same problem last year. I stayed until seven, when the ringing church bells sent me running home to make breakfast for kids before school. Just one more picture…
Notice the line of white bushes in the fields above.
A trail is being laid from flagstones up the hill, which leads to a village (mostly underground) from the Iron Age. Say what??? Some digging has begun again after 20 some years but it’s kind of ho-hum here. Iron Age village, no biggie. What the what – that is crazy amazing in my books!
The manual workers are largely Roma, and I was surprised how tentative they were. It was like they were expecting me to look down my nose at them. When one gave me a little smile, and I smiled back, his face suddenly relaxed and he gave a big smile. Perhaps it was just the early morning though – going for a run near the construction site in spandex isn’t quite as innocent.
Do you remember that line of white bushes in the field? That’s ringloty bushes, although I missed the peak in the photo. All around the area are wild (feral?) Mirabelle plum bushes, yellow and red varieties. Mirabelle plums are a small juicy plum, with a rather large pit and thick skin. They mostly drop to the ground around here, a travesty for someone who comes from a cold climate where the few fruit trees that survive produce pretty tart fruit.
Snowing plum blossoms.
Another white flowering bush is the blackthorn or sloe, Latin Prunus spinosa. With large thorns, the fruit is called trnka in Slovak because of its trpka or acrid taste. Much like choke cherries, eating a fresh astringent sloe will dry out your mouth. After the first frost, the small blue fruit become sweet. In the spring, they can grow in dense hedges with a profusion of white blossoms.
Up the hill from our place, by the Iron Age settlement, what I think are blackthorn bushes line the top of the cliffs.
I basically walk around in the spring exclaiming over nature.
Lesser Celendine, which also grows in carpets. Considered a noxious weed in the US.
Hairy cinquefoil, I think.
Some kind of spurge, perhaps cypress spurge
Can’t find a name for this one. Anyone? Thanks to a reader, this has been identified as Aurinia saxatilis, tarica skalná in Slovak.
Purple wood spurge?
Wild onion, basically wild chives
Wild thyme, which always makes me think of the Scottish song my family sang, “And we’ll all go together, to pick wild mountain thyme, all along the blooming heather, will you go lassie, go?” The leaves have a strong heady fragrance, and is particularly healing for coughs.
The following are photos I couldn’t not include, but as this post is getting rather long, I’ll stop with the commentary.
Which flower or photo is your favourite?
North-east facing, south-west facing
May 03, 2017 @ 12:47:25
Absolutly gorgeous! Thank you for sharing! 😊
May 03, 2017 @ 23:20:24
Glad you enjoyed!
May 03, 2017 @ 13:05:40
I love spring! Thanks for the pictures 😉 the mysterious one might be “tarica skalná”…
May 03, 2017 @ 22:55:36
Aha! That’s the flower, thanks!
May 03, 2017 @ 13:13:15
I believe your unnamed yellow flower is an encrusted saxifrage – Saxifraga paniculata
May 03, 2017 @ 23:20:03
Comparing photos, I think it is Aurinia saxatilis, but we also have the encrusted saxifrage here too and I have long wondered what it was. The saxifrage I grew up with has a similar flower, and now that I looked at some pictures, the leaves are actually similar. It just looks like the encrusted saxifrage leaves are on steroids. 🙂 Thanks!
May 03, 2017 @ 14:09:40
Wonderful scenes that sooth the mind and soul. All the flowers are lovely as are you thanks for sharing. Doug
May 03, 2017 @ 23:12:14
So glad they were soothing, thank you!
May 03, 2017 @ 15:06:45
Beautiful! Looks a lot like here, as far as species, just much more lush and verdant.
Looks to me like you ought to be into bees!
Thomas, Stavanger Norway
May 03, 2017 @ 23:11:48
I have wanted to visit Norway for a long time! I actually love the barren tundra look too. Bees are a great idea, though I’m kind of afraid of the work involved with them. I do love honey!
May 03, 2017 @ 15:32:06
May 03, 2017 @ 23:09:12
May 03, 2017 @ 15:51:55
I love your photography work.
May 03, 2017 @ 23:09:04
Thank you so much!
May 03, 2017 @ 17:03:18
Thank you! Just gorgeous photos. Makes me feel like I should be visiting my homeland.
May 03, 2017 @ 23:08:49
I know that feeling 🙂 Glad you enjoyed them.
May 03, 2017 @ 17:19:23
I can only
Imagine how fresh and crisp the air must be there. Beautiful pictures.
May 03, 2017 @ 23:08:00
Fresh and crisp is somewhat relative – compared to a mountain top not so much but compared to Florida…yes. Glad you liked them!
May 03, 2017 @ 17:19:36
I’ve never been in Slovakia during the early spring, so I really enjoyed seeing this season through your lovely pictures. Made me want to come 🙂
May 03, 2017 @ 23:06:37
It’s an overlooked time for travelling, I guess everyone assumes it will be raining. I’m glad you enjoyed it.
May 03, 2017 @ 19:35:16
Wow! I can’t pick a single favourite. So many beautiful photographs! I love the spring too and in the UK where I live the snowdrop if the first tempting sign that spring is on its way. I love how you captured the carpets in the woodland.
The cherry blossom pictures are wonderful too. I particularly like the shot where you’ve framed the church spire with blossom branches. Just stunning.
Just love woodland. So enchanting and yes, I too can imagine that’s where the fairies live 🙂
May 03, 2017 @ 23:05:36
Thank you! These forests are the stuff of fairytales for sure!
May 03, 2017 @ 19:35:32
Beautiful pics! Some years ago I shot a pic of a single little white, delicate flower in Gaderska Dolina. As I remember, it had a soft yellow stigma. Unfortunately, it’s one of many pics I’ve lost or misplaced. 🙁
May 03, 2017 @ 23:04:53
It’s really amazing what you can find on the internet. Before I started writing, I had no idea what many of the flowers were. I didn’t have a book, but came across some pictoral guides. If you have a general idea of when the flower was blooming, this was quite helpful if you had no idea how group the flower. http://overthebrink.com/flora/april2.html
May 03, 2017 @ 20:14:33
Love your pictures!!!! Our wildflowers in the Sonoaran desert are totally different!!!
May 03, 2017 @ 23:01:24
Thank you! Did you get the super bloom where you are?
May 03, 2017 @ 20:59:02
Thank you so much for this wonderful post! Loved all your beautiful photos! 🙂
May 03, 2017 @ 23:00:13
I’m truly humbled that you enjoyed them…sounds like you are around a lot of art!
May 04, 2017 @ 02:47:42
Such beautiful photos; you have a very good eye for capturing nature. It really makes me understand how difficult it was for my great-grandparents to come to the US. Coming to a new land with a new language to learn is very difficult, but, to have to leave this kind of beauty in Slovakia and come to the industrial cities in the US, that had to be even more difficult. Most of my Slovak ancestry is in the eastern part, but, my paternal grandmother’s parents come from Bobrov in the west (and before that, a village called Zemianska Dedina, which no longer exists). I’m new to your blog; really enjoy it!
May 04, 2017 @ 08:41:37
Thank you, glad you enjoyed the photos! Leaving a place of nature to live in a city can be hard – for me it was the opposite direction. From living in the mountains to a winter in Bratislava, years ago, was very difficult. So great how much know about your family!
May 04, 2017 @ 07:58:49
Love your photography, Naomi. I too could not choose one over any.
Your photos – to me, at least – delightfully invite me to enter right on into those fields and forests. Thank you so very much for sharing your natural and civilised environment.
May 04, 2017 @ 08:42:23
So glad you enjoyed them! I feel like I have so much to learn re nature photography, but I do enjoy it.
May 10, 2017 @ 05:50:13
These photos are so beautiful. Just lovely to imagine you up early getting the photos at sunrise. The cherry blossom orchard is exquisite. I see how muted the sun is.
My days begin with taking Blanca for a walk on one of the trails, over the creek, by the water, through enchanting beautiful forests.
May 10, 2017 @ 08:00:39
Those dark evergreen forest with the rushing creek are so beautiful. So much beauty in our world!
Jun 01, 2017 @ 08:26:03
Beautiful photos and wonderful article. My mom was Slovakian and always took us for spring wildflower walks in Pennsylvania USA .. it must be in the blood because I love it too
Jun 01, 2017 @ 18:38:05
Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed them! Spring flowers are just so beautiful and hopeful.
Jun 01, 2017 @ 19:57:54
Dear Nature-loving Naomi, My son sent us this link, and my sister Catherine Virgenock posted a reply to you. I remember the walks with my mother very vividly, but you seem to have a larger variety of spring flowers. You are very talented. Thank you for doing the work and posting the descriptions. We visited Slovakia in the Spring about ten years ago. Diana
Jun 02, 2017 @ 10:46:02
I’m so glad you liked it! I remember walking with my mother as well, as she taught us different flora and signs of the forest. Where did you travel to in Slovakia?