The Sierra Nevada mountain range in Andalusia is a section of the Betic Cordillera that runs parallel to the Mediterranean Sea for around 100 kilometres, in the provinces of Granada and Almería. Declared a National Park in 1998 and encompassing an area of 86,208 hectares, it holds an exceptional variety of animal and plant life due to the combination of altitude and latitude. The park’s lowest edge begins at 400 metres above sea level with the highest peaks situated to the western part of the sierras. They are Mulhacén (3,482m), Veleta (3,392m) and Alcazaba (3,366m); three peaks that are grouped together in a cluster.
In the Sierra Nevada summits (above 2,000 meters), there are damp pastures which are covered in snow for a great part of the year. They represent one of the most fragile and exclusive ecosystems of the massif known in Spanish as “borreguiles”. They contain a great vegetal biodiversity: a 35% of the species that can be found here are endemics. These “borreguiles” are usually associated to water courses and so, different plant species can be found depending on the water gradient in the soil. On the one hand, species such as Saxifraga stellaris, Veronica turbicola and Festuca rivularis are usually found close to the water course while, on the other hand, Armeria splendens, Agrostis nevadensis and Plantago nivalis grow in the margins of the “borreguil”. Between both extremes, other species can be found: Ranunculus demissus, Campanula herminii, Leontodon microcephalus…
The “Borreguil de San Juan” is located just 2 km from the parking “Hoya de la Mora” in Sierra Nevada. It is really easy to get there; it takes just a 45-minutes walk from the parking.
The “San Juan” is a tributary of the “Genil”. In this photo the green area surrounding the “San Juan” (the stream in the low left side) is the “borreguil de San Juan”. On the top right we can see the Veleta, the second highest peak in the Iberian Peninsula.
In this beautiful place we can enjoy fresh water courses…
… or the blooming of dozens of species. In this photo we can see a group of Gentiana sierrae
In this one, again the Gentiana sierrae, and the Saxifraga stellaris that is usually found next to the water courses.
and one of the most iconic plants in the sierra, the Pinguicola nevadensis
Other species described in this blog can also be found in the “borreguil de San Juan” and its surroundings such as Gentiana boryi Boiss, Teucrium aureum Schreb. subsp angustifolium (Willk.) S. Puech., Thymus serpylloides Bory. subsp. serpylloides, Viola crassiuscula Boryi… And this is just a small sample of what you can find during the summer in the high areas of Sierra Nevada! I can only recommend to visit this “piece of heaven on earth” to everyone interested in nature or botany. I do it every summer!