Alpine edelweiss

(Leontopodium alpinum)



The Alpine edelweiss is probably the best-known Alpine flower altogether. Yet originally it was not indigenous to the Alps at all, but only immigrated from Central Asia after the end of the last Ice Age. In the Himalaya region its closest relatives can still be found today. In Europe, the edelweiss can also be found in e.g. the Caucasus, the Pyrenees and the Carpathians. In Ötztal you‘ll find it on the steep, difficult to access slopes above Gaisbergtal. There, the edelweiss prefers growing in rocky turf, on rocky ground and on vegetated bedrock.



The eye-catching, downy-white “petals” are bracts which surround the spadix. This consists of numerous flower heads, which in turn are made up of many individual flowers. Pollination is done by e.g. beetles and butterflies. Apart from the flower head, the rest of the plant is also covered in thick down. The basal, mostly inversely-oblong, egg-shaped leaves are arranged rosette-shaped. The edelweiss reaches a growth height of 5 to 20 cm.


Special features

The striking, white sheen of the specious prosperities is caused by air bubbles which remain in the down, by reflecting the light. This attracts insects. But the air bubbles also provide effective protection against the loss of humidity and warmth.



In Tirol, the edelweiss is fully protected and must not be picked. The greatest threats to the populations of edelweiss are stepping onto the growing locations and picking the plants. Especially since the advent of tourism, the edelweiss is considered a very popular souvenir. By now, however, protection efforts have shown an effect and the edelweiss populations have recovered.

[Translate to en:] Alpen-Edelweiß (Leontopodium alpinum) - Naturpark Ötztal