Wild Orchids from Allgaeu      WWW Allgaeu

By Dieter Gschwend
When I was a kid, already a very rare orchid was shown to me by my father – it was the "Ophrys insectifera". As a young boy I even knew a lot of native orchids, but I only understood what it was all about when I became a member of AHO Bavaria. With 11 members I founded the county district group in spring of 1996, which I still manage. At the same time I was elected legal advisor of the AHO Bavaria. Today the district group Allgaeu counts up to 43 single memberships and 14 family memberships.
Since more than 10 years I study and observe the flora of orchids in the Allgaeu systematically. I even furnished proof of two new kinds of orchids for this area – the "Epipactis leptochila" and "Epipactis microphylla" .(Gschwend, 2000b, 2002). Important changes in the overall view of AHO Bavaria from the year of 1992 were proven because of my surveillance – new addition 2006 ( scale 1: 25000 ). For excample : Listera cordata = 6 :43 surveyor’s table quadrant (Gschwend 2000 a). Spiranthes spiralis = 4 :12 surveyor’s table quadrant (Gschwend, 2001 a).
In addition there were found the 3 species of Gymnadenia as well as 2 minor species as discribed by Werner Dworschak (2002) (Gschwend, 2004). The results of my research on the expanding of rare species and novelties I wrote down in several puplications. (Gschwend, 1996 - 2004).

The Allgaeu is made up of many administrative regions like: Lindau, Oberallgaeu, Ostallgaeu, Unterallgaeu, and the cities of Kaufbeuren, Kempten and Memmingen, as wll as Wangen /Allgaeu, Isny /Allgaeu and Leutkirch /Allgaeu. Parts of Austria like Kleinwalsertal (Voralberg), Jungholz and Tannheimertal (Tyrol) belong to the alps – a part of the alpine region of Bavaria.

The weather condtions of the Allg. – which contribute to the flowering of orchids – are very different. "Lake Konstance" with 395 m is the lowest point and the highest point in the Allg. mountain region is "Hohe Licht" with 2651 m altitude. A lot of other different components take influence because of inverse proportion of temperature in the higher sites. In spring there are quite often so called "Luftseen" (air-lakes) that stop the loss of warmth and build small climatic niches. Even the "Foehn" a warm , dry alpine wind causes an early thawing of the snow in large lowlands (valley) of the rivers "Iller" and "Lech".

Altitude stufes of Allgaeu

Summit region of Allgaeu mountain ridge 1900 - 2600 m

Mountain level 1300 - 1900 m

Hillside level 900 - 1300 m

Hill and valley region in the foothills of the Alps up to 900 m

1. Kaolline Stufe (hill and valley regions in the foothills of the alps) up to 900 m altitude  

Silty lakes ( muddy and sanded ) as well as dried up parts of lakes that still exist make up moors and moist meadows with a lot of versatile plants in the alpine region. Over here you even find all three kinds of "Sonnentau" as well as "Sumpf- Blutauge, Fieberklee, Alpen Fetthenne and Schwalbenwurz Enzian".

In the hill and valley region of the Allg. you will find a lot of cattle breeding , which on it's own is a disatvantage on a account of climatic reasons. The rural, country like stucture of the lowlands with a cultivation of unique plants – developed over hundreds of years – could be protected by independent market economy (free enterprise) of meat and milk products.To save the unique landscape with it's flora and fauna the farmers should get appropriate financial help for righteous cultivation of dried up meadows and natural grown grass areas.

Geology: Helvetikum, Molasse, Quartär

Main spreading of different kind of orchids: Epipactis purpurata, Hammarbya paludosa, Herminium monorchis Liparis loeselii, Orchis militaris, Orchis morio, Spiranthes spiralis.

2. Montane Stufe (hillside level) 900 – 1300 m altitude  

In about 1300 m altitude you will find the so-called "Montane Stufe". With an average temperature of 8° C during the year the weather is fairly rough. Because of today's branch of industry (milk & cheese products) the forests aren't as big anymore as they used to be before the process of population.
Original deciduos mixed woodlands seldom do occur in the lower part of the hillside level – they were displaced by spruce and pinewood. In the higher region mostly you will find spruce, sycamore and firwood. Over the centuries a variety of alpine flora has settled on the extensive pastures because of the alpine establishment.

Geology: Kalkalpin, Helvetikum, Flysch, Molasse, Quartär

Main spreading of orchids: Dactylorhiza majalis, Dactylorhiza incarnata Cephalanthera longifolia, Cephalanthera rubra, Ophrys insectifera, Epipactis helleborine, Epipactis atrorubens.

3. Subalpine Stufe ( mountain level) 1300 - 1900 m altitude  

The mountain level ascends up to 1900 m altitude in the Allg. alps. With a common temperature of only 5°C at this height there is something like a scene of battle. Notched into the hillside level of the lower part you will find on the upper area crooked timber with stunted trees, dwarf pine (Latschenkiefer) as well as other different dwarf shrubs.

Geology: Kalkalpin, Helvetikum, Flysch

Main spreading of orchids: Coeloglossum viride, Dactylorhiza majalis ssp. alpestris, Gymnadenia odoratissima var. idae, Nigritella rhellicani, Orchis mascula ssp. speciosa, Orchis ustulata, Pseudorchis albida ssp. tricuspis, Traunsteinera globosa.

4. Alpine Stufe (summit region of Allgaeu mountain ridge) 1900 m altitude and more  

The summit region extends way up to the peak of the ridge. You will only find knee-timber with alpine flowers (Rhododendron), "Silberwurz", heather plants and other dwarf bushes. On the ridge there are pastures with tough grass for mountain goats, and on rock and rubble stones even "Hufeisenklee, Stengelloses Leimkraut and Säuerling". In the rock crevices and on very lean grass there still is "Swiss Mannsschild, Androsace helvetica" and the lion's foot (Edelweiss, Leontopodium alpinum).

Geology: Kalkalpin, Helvetikum

Main spreading of orchids: Chamorchis alpina

Literature cited:

Dworschak W. 2002. Gliederung der verschiedenen Erscheinungsformen der Mücken-Händelwurz in Südbayern. Jber. Naturwiss. Ver. Wuppertal. 55: 27-45.

Gschwend D. 1996 a. Verbreitungsübersicht der heimischen Orchideen der Marktgemeinde Hindelang (Oberallgäu). -Ber. Naturwiss. Ver. Schwaben (Augsburg). 100(3): 62–65.

Gschwend D. 1996 b. Bemerkenswerte Orchideenvorkommen auf extensiv bewirtschafteten Flächen bei Vorderhindelang (Oberallgäu).- Ber. Naturwiss. Ver. Schwaben (Augsburg). 100(4): 92–94.

Gschwend D. 1998. Die Orchideen am Falkensteinhöhenzug zwischen Pfronten - Steinach und Füssen (Ostallgäu).- Ber. aus den Arbeitskreisen Heimischer Orchideen 15(1): 79-84.

Gschwend D. 2000 a. Neue Standorte von Listera cordata (Orchidaceae) im Allgäu. - Ber. Naturwiss. Ver. Schwaben (Augsburg). 104: 40-42.

Gschwend D. 2000 b. Epipactis leptochila am Rand der Allgäuer Alpen (Ostallgäu). - Ber. aus den Arbeitskreisen Heimischer Orchideen Jahrgang. 17(1): 44-45.

Gschwend D. 2001 a. Neue Standorte von Spiranthes spiralis Orchidee des Jahres 2001 im Allgäu. - Ber. des Naturwiss. Ver. Schwaben (Augsburg). 105: 67–68.

Gschwend D. 2001 b. Neue Gattungszuordnung einiger Orchideen-Arten Schwabens? - Ber. Naturwiss. Ver. Schwaben (Augsburg).105: 69

Gschwend D. 2002. Erstfund der Kleinblättrigen Ständelwurz im bayerischen Allgäu. - Ber. Naturwiss. Ver. Schwaben (Augsburg). 106: 32–33

Gschwend D. 2004. Die wildwachsenden Orchideen des bayerischen Allgäus. – Mitt. Bl. Arbeitskr. Heim. Orch. Baden-Württ. 36(3): 827–836.