The diversity of flora in Asturias and the Picos de Europa is probably second to none in the whole of Western Europe. This is due to the unusual characteristic of such great height differences between the high mountain peaks and the sea in such a small area. This gives rise to many Atlantic and Mediterranean plants growing close to high mountain plants. In the Asturias there are over 2,200 different species documented, of which over 500 different species are present in the sub alpine zone (above 1,600 meters.)
Encountering this beautiful alpine flora in an area like the Vega de Ario with its almost lunar landscape is stunning. Probably one of the most spectacular features is the diversity of wild flowers found in the mountain pastures. Depending on the orientation and altitude, these grasslands burst into a wealth of colour between April and June.
Three areas of the hotel farm are managed specifically for wildflowers, and we have now produced a "book"; The Farm Flora Guide - a celebration of biodiversity. To date, 322 species of wildflower have been identified on the farm, of which 308 are portrayed in this book of colour photos, grouped into families, including details of where they can be found
Asturias is also an area rich in orchids species where it is possible to find bee orchids or man orchids growing along the side of old roads or purple fields full of Serapias. There are also various Narcissus species present in Asturias three of which have been declared of special interest in the EEC. It is possible to walk in the mountains in April and see fields coloured yellow with the presence of the small Narcissus citrinus or find clumps of Narcissus leonensis looking like they have been planted there by an avid gardener.
The region is almost as famous for its forests. The highest forests are composed mainly of beech, giving way to mixed woodlands of Pyrenean oak, ash, sweet chestnut, birch, holly, yew and lime lower down. There are many important forests in the area, some of which are outlined below:
· Beech forests of Valdeón and Sajambre. A magnificent Atlantic wood, and one of the best beech woods in the Iberian Peninsula.
· Monte Cortegueros. Beech forest with the largest representation of yews in the national park, situated on either side of the "Senda del Arcediano"
· Pome. A mature beech forest close to the kings look out point. Recently declared a restricted area.
· Bosque de Peloña. A special protected beech forest in the Ponga district, with a large representation of hollies, and Capercaillies.