Ladys Slipper Orchid - Cypripedium calceolus

Wild flowers of the Pyrenees

The wild flowers of the Pyrenees are justifiably famous. Known as the flower garden of Europe the alpine flora is spectacular throughout the summer and a must for all wild flower lovers. The abundance and variety of wild flowers is incredible and our walks take us through meadows of gentians, iris, orchids and asphodels.

If you are looking for an excellent all round Pyrenees nature field guide, take a look at the Wildlife of the Pyrenees. Covering flowers, birds, trees, mammals, reptiles, etc it’s perfect for holidays and avoids taking alibrary with you!

2-9 June 2019 – Pyrenees Wildflower Week
Discover the flowers of the Pyrenees with Olatz, our specialist flower guide. Lovely hotel and easy walking learning all about the fantastic flora of the Pyrenees. Read the full itinerary.

There are about 35 different species of orchids in Spain at least 20 of which we see during  our hiking season. The first to flower are the Elderflower orchids which flower in abundance in the meadows around Punta del Pacino. A must see is also the Ladys Slipper Orchid. This is Europe’s largest flowering orchid and is so rare it has a guard by it whilst in flower.

There are several varieties of gentians flowering throughout the season due to much of the Pyrenees being limestone, the rock type gentians usually grow on. Most are compact and are the typical intense blue we associate with gentians. The Great Yellow Gentian which grows in abundance however is quite different with a stem that measures nearly a meter tall and is, as the name suggests, yellow.

The saxifrage family are a well known mountain and alpine plant. The Latin translation for the word ‘saxifrage’ is literally ‘stone-breaker’. They are often found growing out of rock faces and the Pyrenean Saxifrage  is no exception to this.

Lilies come in all different shapes and sizes and can be found in almost any type of habitat where plants can grow. Some of the lilies we have here are a pyrenean strain (such as Merendera Pyrenacia ) which is sometimes only realised when reading the Latin name.

Insectivorous plants

A selection of other wild flowers that we regularly see on our hikes in the Pyrenees

21 thoughts on “Wild flowers of the Pyrenees”

  1. Which comment fits these pictures except a big wow and huge thanks to you both! its amazing and I am truly looking forward to start my late june adventure in the pyrenees…

  2. Hi there, which comment fits these beautiful flower pictures except a big “Wow”
    Thanks so much and I can’t wait to start my adventure late June this year :)

  3. Hi I live in the Cévennes (where I run a gîte and B&B) but I recently came to Quillan and did a few hikes. Your website has been so helpful for me to identify all the plants we saw – thank you so much for going to all this trouble! We could do with something like this in the Cévennes. Valerie

  4. Hi Valerie,
    Glad you liked the flower guide and that it proved helpful. I’ve actually got a whole lot of new flower pics that I’ll put on when I get a chance. We’ve a new guide that is an absolute expert at Pyrenees flora so she’s identifying loads of new species for me!

  5. Hey folks, nicely done! But the flower I photographed in the Pyrenees in July 2014 doesn’t seem to be shown here. If I emailed you my photo, would you be willing to help me ID it?


  6. Hi Rick,
    Glad you liked the flower page and sorry you doidn’t find what you were looking for. By all means email us a photo and we’ll try and identify it (and we’ll add it to this page too). We love seeing new flowers!

  7. When do the flowers begin to look good in the Pyrenees? Would they have started flowering end of April beginning May? Trying to get away for a few days and am very tempted…

  8. End of April is quite early in the Pyrenees for flowers – especially this year which is still cold and snowy. At that time of year the Sierra de Guara in the Pre-Pyrenees is much better for flowers. It’s a bit further south and slightly lower and has warmer temperatures meaning the flowers will all be out. For the high Pyrenees Mid May to early July is the best season – sometimes earlier depending on the weather.
    Hope that helps – have a good trip and enjoy the wonderful flowers that we have here,

  9. I was wondering if you knew the name of a flower that grows in the Pyrenees near sources of water. They grow about a 1/2 a foot to a foot tall, plain thin stem and the flower is white and looks like a cotton ball. I have a picture of them if you want to see them.

  10. Hi Maida,
    I think the plant that you are describing is cottongrass or bog cotton (Eriophorum angustifolium). It’s quite common here around springs or boggy areas. The white tuft (that looks very like cotton) is actually the seed head rather than the flower which is a small green flower. Despite it’s name it’s not used to make cotton or textiles. You often see marsh marigold (Caltha palustris) growing in the same areas.

    You can read about cottongrass here:

  11. Hi there
    Lovely photos!
    Can you recommend any good field guides to flowers of the Pyrenees? I moved to Andorra in Dec 2017 and was bowled over by the flowers I saw on some of my walks this last summer. I am now looking for a good guide so I can be set up for next season !

    I will have to try and visit your area too.

  12. Hi Elizabeth, glad you liked the flower photos. An excellent field guide for all kinds of nature – flowers, trees, birds, retiles, etc is the Wildlife of the Pyrenees guide. You can order a copy here:
    If you are looking for a flower specific guide try the Blacks nature guide ‘Wild Flowers of Britain and Europe’ – although not Pyrenees specific it covers most of the things that you’ll find here. A good Spanish Pyrenees guide is ‘Guia de flores del Pirineo’ by Maza, Cartagena and Navarro.
    We have a wild flower week running on the 2-9 June with our secialist flower guide Olatz – why not come along?
    Happy flower hunting,

  13. Wonderful, thanks Phil!

    2nd to 9th June is tricky as I’ll be working during the week (I teach English at a language centre in Andorra.) – unless possible to do the weekend only. I’d certainly be interested in anything happening during the holidays (July and August).
    I’m also interested in your upcoming snowshoeing hoilday. Does it continue over the weekend? Again, I have a problem of taking time off during the week!
    With best wishes

  14. Hi Perry, glad you found the page helpful – the flora in the Pyrenees is just spectacular. If you’ve got any pics you can’t identify just post them here or email them to and we’ll see if we can help. Cheers, Phil

  15. Beautiful pictures! My husband and I will be coming y’all’s way in September. Will we still get to see any of these? Which ones should we be looking for? Can’t wait to see them!

  16. Hi Elena,
    Although June is the peak time for flowers in the Pyrenees you’ll still see lots of flowers on the alpine meadows in September. There are two particular late summer specialities. The bright yellow acanthus thistle which look like sunflowers, low down, dotted across the ground. Also, look out for the fascinating merendera montaña which looks a bit like an autumn crocus but with no leaves in the autumn. There’s a great local name for these – espantaturistas ‘tourist scarer’ as they come out in early September when all the Spanish tourists leave after their August holidays!
    Enjoy the Pyrenees, Phil

  17. I agree photos are stunning as is backdrop. I’m coming to Candanchu from 17th-22nd July.
    I presume for flowers I need to get fairly high up this time of year,can you recommend a spot,and do you know where the highest point you can drive to within an hours drive.
    Kind regards
    P.s just bought the Book,hopefully start ticking soon !

  18. Great pictures. Some of the plants, listed in the group and general list also grow on UK’s mountain terrain, uplands and moorlands. This site is a great place to start learning. I’ve found that plants growing in the European high ranges are more prolific than in the UK with a greater variety. Trying to remember names and their past and present uses is another thing. I’m hooked!

  19. Hi Ted, Glad you enjoyed the article and are developing into a flower geek like ourselves! Many of the alpine plants that you find in the alpine plants in the Pyrenees can also be found in the UK and the Alps, although of course, every area has their endemics. Here in the Pyrenees people always like to see our specialities such as the Corona del Rey, Bears ear, Merendera de Montaña and the spotted gentian.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Hiking, cycling, nature and life in the Pyrenees