? Nature in Macugnaga

Nature in Macugnaga

Flora and fauna of Macugnaga and the Monte Rosa


he Mount Rosa range goes back to the Tertiary period, between 35 and 50 million years ago. In the following Quaternary period there were four big glaciations, when the ice moulded the rocks and the ranges.

It is believed that, when the ice filled the Anzasca valley, the thickness of the ice reached 1500 meters: the Rosa glacier is still a rest of this last glaciation.

Some of the rocks of this zone were subjected to extremely high pressure and high temperatures due to volcanic phenomena, so that they fused and hardened in a high degree. The big fusion heat caused the emission of gaseous substances and of superheated steam which favoured the infiltration, in the rock's cracks, of several minerals in their liquid state. The gold and silver mines of this valley are the evidence of these geologic revolutions.

Trees and flowers

The Macugnaga zone is rich in trees and flowers. Going up toward Macugnaga you find mixed broad-leaved woods, with maple, ash, oak and chestnut trees. In the underwood in spring you find violets, windflowers, dandelions, red lilies and dog roses.

Going up you find beech, silver fir and spruce trees. Going up further, beeches become more scattered and are replaced by spruces and, still higher, by larches. The underwood of larch groves consists mainly of whortleberries, raspberry bushes and rhododendrons.

In the areas near the streams there are birch and alder trees, which are able to consolidate the banks subject to landslides. In the Macugnaga region the pine tree is most uncommon.

At higher than 2000 meters' altitudes, the wood has some difficulties to survive. You can still find isolated examples of larch, but normally alders and larches in these areas are just a little higher than rhododendrons. This is the zone of the alpine pastures. In June, when vegetation resumes, you can find many flowers: windflowers, asters, gentians.

Higher than the pastures, before reaching the first snow and ice, you reach the limit of the high altitude steppe and tundra. Some trees did adapt to this environment, like the alpine bluegrass, the knitgrass, the dwarf forget-me-not and the gentianella. And, again, the dwarf willow and the wormwood. Very rare, on the contrary, the edelweiss because the Macugnaga soil is unsuitable for this kind of flowers.


The Macugnaga's fauna is limited because of the not easy environment to which the animals had to adjust, some of them with the lethargy, other with the mould of the fur.

Some animals have disappeared in historic times from the territory of Macugnaga: among them the bear, the lynx, the wolf, the otter. Today on the high paths we can meet the ibex, the chamois, some rare specimen of eagle.

The marmot, which disappeared, resumed to breed. And so also the squirrel, that can be seen on the trees in spring. It is difficult to see the dormouse, the hare, the fox and the badger, but one can see their tracks on the snow in winter.

Concerning the birds, many of them are songbirds: among them the sparrows, the blackbirds, the crows, the alpine choughs. Then there are also the black grouses and the ash grey woodpeckers.

The Amphibia are represented by the frogs, the black salamanders and the Alpine tritons. Among the reptiles there are severals lizards and slowworms. Dangerous are the vipers, both the so called "marasso" (Vipera berus) and the asp (Vipera aspis). They are timid animals which generally avoid man, but they byte to feed or to defend themselves. It is advisable to be careful when walking in the meadows. The herds of cattles, very frequent in the past, are on the contrary much more infrequent nowadays.

WebCam Macugnaga

WebCam Macugnaga