The subalpine Zone

The subalpine zone (montane forest ecosystem) spans an elevation of about 1700m up to tree line at about 1900m. The typical species here are the hardy and frostresistant Swiss Stone Pine or Swiss Pine (Pinus cembra). It survives periods of wintery frost down to minus 45 °C. In the undergrowth of the Swiss Pine forest thrive several species of Dwarf-Shrub Heath, which is found above the tree line. Alongside blueberry and cranberry or bilberry (Vaccinium sp.) bushes appear the rusty-leaved Alpenrose (Rhododendron ferrugineum) as well as the Alpine Clematis (Clematis alpine) with its splendid blue flowers. Depending on human influence, even the Larch (Larix deciduas) can occur in this zone. As a tree requiring exposure to sunlight, it is prevalent in young and loose Alpine forests, whereas it is replaced by the Swiss Pine in forests that have been left undisturbed for more than 100 years. Especially in fall time, the Larches’ colorful needles are impressive. Above the tree line the Swiss Pine dominates.