PLANTS

The abundance of wildlife in the CÚvennes is breathtaking. The remoteness of the mountainous terrain has minimised the loss of habitat so prevalent elsewhere throughout Europe, and the geography, geology and climate allow us to see an encyclopaediac range of attractive plants and animals.

In springtime, dozens of species of orchids are scattered across the countryside, often forming colourful carpets across the grasslands. Riverside meadows are alive with the blue of meadow clary and viper's bugloss, competing against the brash yellows of the dandelion family, the delicate mauves of scabious and the brilliant white of the ox-eye daisy. Ragged robin, mignonette, pignut, ramsons, soapwort, star of Bethlehem; often two to three hundred species of flower will vie for your attention in a single field.

The damp upland pastures may be covered in wild daffodils and narcissi, with groups of orange tulips scattered within. Violet pasque flowers wave in the breeze in a sea of yellow rattle. This spectacular display gives way to a more modest offering as the sun ripens the grasses and seed heads, but autumn sees another burst of colour as the autumn fruits compete for your admiration with the late-summer flowers. A fortnight after a heavy rainstorm will see the pastures and woodlands bloom with a much sought-after crop of mushrooms and fungi. Within days, the vivid yellows of autumn, driven by the ubiquitous sweet chestnuts, and interspersed with the reds of the maples, spread like a blanket from the high causses (limestone plateaus) to the lower valleys.

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