The Slovenia Times

Endangered harbinger of spring in bloom

Environment & Nature
The greater pasque flower at Mount Boč. Photo: STA

A month before Easter, the greater pasque flower, an endangered species in Slovenia, is coming into bloom at what is its largest growth site in the country, some 10 kilometres east of Celje.

Hundreds of visitors are expected to admire the flowers over the course of the coming weeks and like every spring, locals have sprung to action to protect the delicate plants, called velikonočnica in Slovenian.

The flowers will be in bloom for about three weeks and the local tourism association will erect rope barriers around them, while volunteers will serve as guides for visitors and perform 24/7 surveillance of the site on weekends to prevent vandalism, local tourism association head, Zlatko Zevnik, told the Slovenian Press Agency.

Vandalism was nearly non-existent in the past years, but many a keen photographer disregard the barriers, inadvertently trampling the flowers. Last year, the site drew some 1,500 visitors and the year before there were as many as 3,000, the newspaper Delo reported.

The flower has been on the endangered species list since 1949 and Ponikva locals have been striving to preserve the species, Pulsatilla grandis, for nearly as long.

In the mid-2000s, the Šentjur municipality bought nearly two hectares of meadows and tasked the local tourism association with taking care of the land. The grass is cut only once a year, in July, and the shrubbery is cut back every autumn to prevent overgrowth.

Native to North America, Asia and Europe, the flower has been named for its characteristic of blooming around Passover and Easter, but this is no longer the case, as the first pasque or Easter flowers come into bloom as early as February.

There are four pasque flower sites in Slovenia and each is monitored by the Institute for Nature Conservation. The flowers are counted every year. The Ponikva site produces between 800 and 1,700 blooms every spring, a ranger told Delo last year.


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