The four most important types of vegetation in the World Heritage area are: forest, scree and rock, alpines, and cultural vegetation.
There are 18 botanically vulnerable forest localities identified, and these come under the categories old deciduous forest, olivine pine forest, thermophilous (heat-loving) noble deciduous forests and pastures.
In the forest covered areas the mountain birch dominates. On the forest floor blueberries and ferns are common, e.g. Dear fern (Blechnum spicant) and Lemon scented fern (Oreopteris limbosperma). The thermophilous noble deciduous forest on south facing fjord sides covers a smaller area, but has a large diversity of species. Thermophilous trees such as elm (Alnus glabra) and hazel (Corylus avellana) which grow together with weeping birch (Betula pendula), or pine, provide for a rich plant life, and approximately 200 species of vascular plants are registered at two such localities.
Hyskjet nature reserve in Geiranger is one of the richest localities with such vegetation. Typical species found on the forest floor here are:
- Broad leaved helleborine (Epipactis helleborine)
- Braun’s holly fern (Polystichum braunii)
- Wonder violet (Viola mirabilis)
- Wild liquorice (Astragalus glycyphyllos)
- Woodruff (Galium odoratum)
- Royal helleborine (Epipactis atrorubens)
- Horsetail (Equisetum hyemale)
We find the largest areas with noble deciduous forest along the Sunnylvsfjorden between Tindbjørgane and Åkerneset, and along the north side of the Geirangerfjord. Other types of forest vegetation are old pine forests and old deciduous forests which are found in only a few places along the fjord.
Scree and rock vegetation
The scree is the most important tree free mineral soil habitat
for plant communities below the tree border in this area. The enormous screes innermost in the Geirangerfjorden and uppermost in the valley south of Geiranger have an interesting vegetation and flora. For example, the red list species small white orchid (Leuchorchis albida ssp. albida) can be found in many places here. The occurrence of some vascular plants here might be a result of having survived in the area since the warm sub-Atlantic period that occurred 2000 years ago.
The flora is richest where the bedrock contains carbonate. Here one can often find southerly and south-easterly vascular plants, and also other species which are otherwise unusual for this region. Under such circumstances it is not unusual to find more than 100 species of vascular plants a thousand metres over the sea.
Hawkweed-leaved saxifrage (Saxifraga hieracifolia) which grows on limestone rocks in Geiranger, preferably the north facing ones, is another important species that has its westerly and south westerly locality here.
The most interesting and species-rich alpine flora is found in the east and south-east of Geiranger, from Stavbrekka
and Dalsnibba in the South to Gråsteindalen in the North. Another place is Geitfjellet north-west of Geiranger. Compared to the rest of Norway, the alpine flora here is not especially rich, but it still stands out in the north-westerly part of West Norway. The snow cover is vital, and one can find alpine plant communities on edges, sheltered sides and close to snow areas that are late to thaw. The edges are exposed to wind, and are terrain moulds with a thin snow covering. The sheltered hills have steady snow cowering and thaw early in spring. The snow areas melt late in summer, and the vegetation here ranges from Polar willow (Salix polaris) to more grassy, herbal rich vegetation.
The most important biological value of the cultural landscape is connected to the area where the vegetation is shaped by haymaking, grazing, removal of thicket or lopping of trees. Over time the occurrence of specialised species has developed on non-fertilized natural pastures and meadows. Most of these are various types of mushrooms which belong to families such as Clavaria (Clavaria), Pinkgills (Entoloma) and Wax mushrooms (Hygrocybe). The most important areas with rare and exposed species can be found close to the open and well-kept cultural landscape around Herdalssetra and Botnen in Norddal.
Other cultural vegetation of botanical interest can be found in the patchwork of natural pastures and forests, preferably with lopped or cut birches or elms. The old elms are central and often attract more rare species such as lichen and mushroom that otherwise live in old thermophilous trees that for some reason are hardly ever seen in other places in the West of Norway.
- Registered findings of bird types on the red list
- Rare and typical species
- Registered finds of insects and small mammals on the red list in the world heritage area.
- Marine species in the world heritage area
- Botanic diversity and rare species
- Varied vegetation
- Registered discoveries of botanical red list species in the World Heritage area.
- Birds in the fjord landscape