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Flora in the Verdon

​IRIS pseudacore

This tall bearded yellow, often at the edge of the Verdon where it blooms in April and may, is also familiar for his omnipresence on the arms of the Kings of France, but then known as Fleur-de-Lys. According to legend, in a poorly engaged battle against the Goths, Clovis had his salvation to the leak, crossing a river on a yellow flower carpet, our iris. Clovis then adopts it as its emblem, which will be resumed on the coats of arms of the Kings of France giving it the status of 'Louis' flower, that deformity over time turn into 'fleur de lys '.

Martagon Lily

Rare host of the mountain woods, its spectacular flowering from late June to mid-July, makes it however "unmissable" by its large pink flowers punctuated Brown rolled out petals. Named "root gold" by the alchemists, it was used in the double pursuit (alas both vain) the elixir of long life and the philosopher's stone which were the object of this chimerical art. Martagon would also be a reference to the planet Mars, astronomy being an important component in search of alchemists.

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Almonds and almond trees

For a long time the kernel was the basis for an intense economic activity on the plateau de Valensole, where the presence of almond is mentioned as early as the 16th century. But the tree had to be introduced well before because it is the Romans who selected the soft almond trees, whose fruits are used in the kitchen. In the I century, the region provides more than one-third of domestic production. L 'amandiculture' then generated a social organization and specific knowledge. It distinguished different varieties, selected for the quality of their almonds and the hardness of their hull: soft, semi-hard or hard... Each had its qualities and its defects, cost and use.The Princess, almond "fine", was the most widespread around Valensole. Riez gave its name to a "half of Riez" variety. In the opinion of all, Fourcouronne, almond hard, was the best for the nougat, one of the desserts of Christmas. These almonds were mainly sold to traders and confectioners of Aix for the manufacture of the famous calisson, during major fairs, of which the most famous was that of Valensole, in the Sainte-Catherine (25 November). Traditionally this day all almonds left ashore in the fields could be gleaned freely were sometimes sent children. But the event was elsewhere: to the fair, where almonds, blanched, fruit of a season's work, were made in several kilos bag. But before this final stage it took saplings, pick up, remove the envelope (degover), dry and especially to break the hull of several hundreds of thousands of almonds. The degovage was frequently in family, the evening, and constituted a sizeable family income. Breaking, then, was carried out in a large building (the cassoir *) for its traders and brokers, or the largest owners of the region. In the cassoir, despite the fast pace and noise of the breaking, the atmosphere was... friendly, hot, and because the almonds without their 'core' shells were used to heat the building.

The olive tree

The legendary tree of the Mediterranean world symbol of peace, force and eternity (he lives hundreds of years and can easily rise from its strain) reached the territory of the Park, you extreme altitude to acclimatize. Its culture, which requires heat and brightness, does not cross the mountains which border the Grand Canyon. The olive tree is unknown in Castellane, but found even on des Moustiers, where he however was grown until the 16th century. Throughout the valensole, it has long occupied vast fields, often complantes wheat. Today, olive groves meet than at the margins of a few villages. On the hills of the Var, and all around the lower gorge, the olive tree is still widely part of the landscape. The restanques *, or bancaou, these stone walls which trace regular lines to the slopes of the hills, have often been constructed for its culture. The climate and the soil lend themselves beautifully to temperament which, naturally, requires little water and just about all types of terrain. However, an olive grove, to be productive, is more demanding. She asked a little irrigation, the soil maintenance, and annual size specifies that it operates between February and may.Thanks to these attentions, the olive tree gives fruits besides it is also a symbol of generosity. Good years the production by foot can reach more than 30 kg. It is essentially oil, main component of Mediterranean cuisine, which is at the origin of the development of the cultivation of the olive tree 11 takes 100 kg of olives to obtain approximately 20 litres of oil. This performance however depends strongly on the variety and the quality of the olives. Despite their economic interest and the sanctity of the tree, many olive groves have fallen into disuse, invaded by grasses and broom. Some owners however, continue to maintain a small number of trees which they bear fruit to the nearest mill in early winter (Aups, Manosque or prayer) to press 'their oil', object of pride. The definition of an Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée around Manosque will restore him may soon be his true place.

Green oak, a hard sheet

Green oak is, with Aleppo Pine, the local stage. Before the arrival of man, he dominated the vast forests covering then all Provence. Well adapted to the Mediterranean climate, it is resistant to summer drought in "varnishing" the top of the leaves, that the absence of harsh winter allows him to keep throughout the year. Lined with spines on the young feet, these leaves do often confused with Holly or her cousin the kermes oak. Paradoxical operation, dry, delicate, requires submerging first one to two years of donations the water. Wood of poor quality, it was reserved for the coarse uses, and is no longer used as firewood. Giving an excellent charcoal, it is the explanation of the omnipresence of les Charbonnières in Provence that testify to this flourishing activity until the interwar.


CADE and Juniper are two cousins of the the Cypress family (Cupressaceae). Frankly southern, the first to recognize the two (cade = ca-two!) white lines that adorn the top of its needles (a single band at Juniper), and bays, larger than those of Juniper, and who saw to the Red-Brown in ripening characteristic of junipers, only some feet bear berries because male and female flowers are on different feet. We speak of dioecious plants (literally, "two houses") to describe these species which are "House" Apart from distillation of wood, oil of cade is famous for its dermatological virtues. Used for all eternity in veterinary medicine to treat sheep gales, maintain, or treat the hooves of the horses, it accesses the celebrity in the 1920s, when a businessman American idea to incorporate SOAP gifts. A brand is born whose promotion will mark the generation of "baby Cabigas". Cade arrays can, as those of Juniper, be used as a condiment, but more bitter and less fragrant, they are much less appreciated.
Kermes species of scrub oak, kermes oak presents itself as a bushy shrub with small spiky leaves that only the presence of acorns lets you attach without hesitation to the family of Oaks. Characteristic of Western Mediterranean lunch (it is here at the limit of area), its latin name Quercus coccifera (bringing mealybugs) is a reference to the presence of Wales caused by the bite of a mealybug. In the middle ages, Montpellier, cloth, made a fortune by exploiting a tincture from these galls, 'Scarlet seeds'.

Lavender and lavandin

Lavender grown on the plateau is a hybrid of two wild species: Lavender "to broadleaf", found in the Plains and in the hills, and the Lavender 'angustifolia' more montane. Sterile, like most hybrids, the lavender is propagated by cuttings. Young branches are cut and then planted in the "nursery" for one year, the time to develop their roots. They are then transplanted into the fields where they occur, from the second year, and for 5 to 7 years, the essential oil is obtained by distillation, cutting and harvesting are mechanized. The essential oil of fine Lavender is used in Lavender aspic perfumery. Very different composition essential oil of lavandin is reserved for products Lavender Avenue and cosmetics, perfumers preferring the extract of lavender "fine" of the mountains. Although it is art not need pollinators; as sterile, I, lavender is a great provider of nectar at the origin of a justly renowned honey. Between azure and mountains the Valensole plateau is an important step in the transhumance of apiaries.


If there are several species of truffles, only the Tuber melonosporum, black truffle from Perigord and of Haute-Provence, unleashes the greed of gourmets. This "Black Diamond" as the habit of calling it in the words of the Brillat-Savarin Cook, is a fungus that grows only in contact with the roots of oak trees and Hazel - known as mycorrhiza (from myco, fungus and rhize: root)-with which it exchanges nutrients. In late fall, the mycelium, thin filament which is the "body" of the fungus, manufactures truffle (which corresponds to the chapeau of the 'classic' mushrooms) in which spores differ. In the truffle fields, sowing was traditionally by sprinkling the foot of seedlings of shavings of truffle for a first production six to ten years later, over 20 to 40% of the feet. Since 15 years, young plants are mycorrhizal "in vitro" before be planted in a truffle. They then produce more quickly, in four to eight years, and with best performance (60-80%). Next to these specialized plantations (privately owned), can be found in the woods of Oaks "truffle" Mycorrhizae naturally, but they are rare. The truffle is gifted properties anti germ, it inhibits the growth of grass at the foot of the trees that host it, which allows to identify them to the "burned" that surrounds their strain.
Three animals can help man to find the precious fungus: the pig, the most effective, but a tad cumbersome. the dog, which can reach prices (g) astronomical when it is good truffle; and fly, reserved for lovers, because more random. This little fly, a Helomyzide, lays its eggs in the truffle after digging a burrow she keeps fiercely. Warm and quiet January hours, can the spot gently passing a wand around the foot of the "burnt" oak. Flight signals the presence of a truffle. Good luck and bon appétit.


Hunting-hazelnut Corylus avellana, hazelnut or Hazel owes its latin name to the cupule surrounding the hazelnut (in Greek, korus, probable origin of corylus, means headphones) and the greediness of the Romans, who cultivated it already, in particular in the province of Avellino. Shaft to thousand uses, including the list takes the catalogue of Prévert, dowser? You entaillerez your lurks. Gourmet. Hazelnut oil, delicately perfumed, is reserved for salads, losing all flavour as soon as heated.
•    Ereinté? Energy-dense and rich in vitamins hazelnuts will make you the Popeye from the undergrowth,
•    Stressed out? /ES nuts are one of the reasons, with olive oil and wine (if, if), the resistance of the Mediterranean to the infarction, finally, Hazel is, with pubescent and green oak, one of the three species of truffle,


Drink a shot, drink in two. Submit a blow to drink, the feet fresh in some River and you are sure to see settling the accomplices willows and poplars. It is not for nothing that they are from the same family! At least four species of willow along the Creek that runs along the path. They all have in common, and that is their 'Genre', trained kittens, two or three stamens, and elongated petiole (the "tail" of the leaf) leaves short. Then, to distinguish them from each other, it is a little more difficult, except perhaps the Willow draped, with leaves long and thin, with edges rolled, green dark above and silvery below white. A few old and large tree trunks cut "tadpole" (the trunk is closed I m or 2, the stump producing young flexible and long shoots) which remain here and there to remind the use which was used in basketry. But the Fiery husbands that need most at the willows, since it's their bark acetylsalicylic acid was isolated scientific name of aspirin.
Fruit gold or Pistoles full pockets. Despite its mountain climate, Castellane area developed in the eighteenth century the culture of fruit trees in the field. Around the villages and the first row of gardens, covered an area of orchards, often supplemented by potatoes or wheat. Apple trees and pear trees were widespread throughout the I century, providing lucrative crops. But the specificity of the region, as the entire Valley of Asse, was the production of "pistoles", plums dried and flattened which resembled the ancient coin, from where its name. The variety "perdigon" or "perdigale" was the most common in the region of Castellane. Production ceased between the two wars, but in the entire Valley of Asse and the city itself, there are still a few plums dryers: attic, they present themselves as a pierced floor large vertical openings. These openings were sometimes closed by doors of wood, that have in general all disappeared. The dryer itself has often been transformed to be able to be lived. High openings have thus been replaced by standard windows, so much that it becomes difficult to discern them...

"Of the pin on the Board"

Between Saint-andre-les-alpes and Courchons, the course is mainly bordered by pine. A good opportunity to pay tribute to these pioneers were all conifers that have their fruit to the generic name of conifers (Etymologically, bringing cones). During the evolution, nature was constantly improving "performance" of life. At the beginning, the algae: simple and effective, but limited by the presence of water necessary both for reproduction for nutrition, which confined them to aquatic environments. The primary era, a first revolution enables to get out of the bath: ferns start to attack the Mainland, thanks to the invention of the conductive vessels and SAP. Drafts of roots capture water nourishing donations soil and routing, thanks to these "conductive vessels", tubular cells aligned end-to-end, in the stems and "leaves" (in ferns, spoken of fronds) to feed them. On the other hand, there is still progress to reproduction. Sperm and egg still need a drop of water to meet, which explains that ferns are still confined to fresh areas. Conifers are the solution to the secondary era. Instead of entrusting their sperm to the good wishes of the currents, they locked him in a special structure, the grain of pollen, wisely fitted with two small balloons (special cells filled with air), that make it transportable by air. Us large spaces and Virgin Lands, coniferous cover then the globe (Finally, the emergent part). It is only to the tertiary period they will be superseded by plants to flower thanks to some changes of the seed and a subtle alliance with insects, month this is another story...


This host clear undergrowth and edges is ubiquitous on the territory of the Park and in the sector of Saint-André in particular. Practicing separation, but also the cohabitation of the sexes, the boxwood in April, in the axils of the leaves, clumps of small male flowers (recognizable with their four stamens) courting a single female flower located in the centre (and recognizable by its three stigmata) its curious smell of "cat pee" hides many altruism some since he was recognized sudorific propertiesdepurative, febrifuge and bile (which helps digestion by "activating" the gall bladder)!

Saint Lucia cherry

Early July, departing from Castellane, when the trail passes through the Landes, note dark red berries of Sainte-Lucie cherry. This shrub by further discrete (may be however, with a little usual, identify its light green leaves glistening, finely denticulate and often folded lengthwise at the level of the rib) is common in wastelands, edges and the well exposed hillsides. St. Lucia is the name of a monastery of the Meuse River renowned for the quality of small objects, and in particular pipes pipes, that there were shaped with this cherry wood. Hard and dense, very fine grained, of pleasant smell, and giving a beautiful "polished", it is indeed wanted for small luxury joinery and cabinetmaking. Acid and little fleshy, cherries are often despised as much as the kernels almonds are toxic. Rustic and vigorous, Saint Lucia Cherry is however often used as a rootstock.


At the edge of the trail, 100 metres uphill from the junction to Majastres, a few feet from officinale Peony. Its latin name, Paeonius, is a tribute to Paeon, Greek doctor who used it to cure Pluto from an injury made by Hercules. It is however known to give much credit to this legend recounted by Homer, phytotherapy recognising rather antispasmodic and antiepileptic properties. But the question arises nowadays, its toxicity and its delicate use the booking to homeopathy. Endemic to Southeast of the France reliefs, it is rare on the territory of the Park. Too (?) spectacular, it pays, well that legally protected, a heavy tribute to the "wild" collection. Thank you respect.

Beech and beech

Quite common in France, beech is, in the Verdon Park on the most fresh or in the great Gorge. Gourmand in rain (more than 750 mm per year) and atmospheric moisture (which made him flee the Mediterranean summer drought) beech is located here in "area limit". The beech forest of la Faye is an example of these "beech dried on limestone" characterized by the presence of lavender, boxwood and three species rarer and more discreet, androsace Chaix, protected, and two orchids, pale Phantom and bitterbrush coralroot. Tree at all do, the beech is no longer used today for its wood. Formerly, its beechnuts were consumed, and you pull both used oil for seasoning for lighting. Its bark and its coal were remedies deemed against fever and infections. Operated "coppice" (after a first cut, is allowed to leave several releases of a same strain) the beech forest of la Faye gives firewood.


All similar and yet so different, it recognizes them at the first glance. Rose hips behind is in fact a variety - 10 species occur in the Park, including 5 or 6 on this stretch - able to animate more than one evening of botanists! Look more closely the fruits are big, crooked and hairy? It is the hips of the mountains; The tiny leaves and straight prods? It is the rose with leaves of Burnet; It grows in the understory and leaves with rounded ends feel the Apple? Here the 'elliptical' also fragrant rose but small acute leaves and rather follower of edges and edges of the paths? We see the agreste rose; It is most common along the roads and fields? This dogs rose owes its name to the virtue assumed its root, once boiled to cure rabies!

Pompone Lily

Throughout the month of June, on the slope that borders the road, between the bridge and the Breis road, in the gorges of Rayaup, flowers one of the botanical jewels of the Verdon: the lys turban (a reference to the shape of its flower) or Lily of Pompone of its latin name Lilium pomponium, in honour of Pomponius Atticus, a friend of Cicero and great lover of flowers. It is a rare species which is located here at the edge of its distribution area limited North of the Italy and the Southern Alps. Attention, spectacular and tempting in its large and beautiful red flowers bright, it is totally protected: forbidden picking!


Four criteria can easily differentiate maples: the size of the leaves, the shape and the number of their lobes, and the angle formed by the two wings of the fruit. Rustic Maple, bordering the descent at the start of Chateauvieux, the leaves are small, rounded, 5-lobed, and the wings of the fruit are opposite (180 ° angle). It is more common at this altitude where species ' Nomad fleeing the company from its congeners, found especially in trying to recolonize wastelands, or at the edge of forests. Its wood, hard and very fine-grained, is appreciated for the manufacture of small decorative objects turned or carved.

Riparian forest

For vegetation from the banks of rivers, the problem of drought, the Mediterranean climate-specific, there is no feet cool, handsomely fed for the river and its alluvium, the species of the riparian forest (of ripa, berge, and sylva, the forest), have more than a concern: keeping their place in the Sun. Three strategies are then developed: trees like willow or poplar, hurry to grow up to enjoy without shading of light.
•    The vines such as Ivy or Clematis, use an efficient variant of this strategy, the support offered by the trunks of trees exempting from the effort to make a.
•    Another tactic for some herbaceous plants who opt for early maturity in making a good part of their cycle before the trees 'do' their leaves and do their shadow.
•    This is the solution chosen by garlic mustard, white Peeper smell of garlic and arum "calf foot". Others finally settle little and adapt, resigned to live in the shadow of the great, in the low light of the undergrowth.

Scots pine

Easy to recognize with its orange-brown trunk, its short needles, Scots pine is the most common tree throughout the Artuby area's routes. For Provencal botanists, it is characteristic of the "supra-Mediterranean" floor, between 500 and 1500 metres, where, in the company of the downy oak, it forms the core of natural afforestation.Formerly used multipurpose, masts of boats, poles of mines, joinery, veneer, following the highly variable of its wood quality, it is hardly intended today that has the paper industry, in the manufacture of panels of particles or domestic heating.

Asplenium Jahandiez

Are called "endemic" a species that is present as a territory more less restricted the Asplenium de Jahandiez, or Spleenwort du Verdon is restricted, to the surface of the Earth, in the gorges of the Verdon between Castellane and directed. Discrete small fern, it develops under the overhangs or in cracks cliffs shaded in small tufts of fronds (name given to the 'sheets' of a fern) to the Green spine and the pinnules (somehow the leaflets of the fronde in part welded to the spine. Difficult to distinguish from two of her cousins also present in the Verdon, the Green Spleenwort (rare in the Verdon), and Petrarch (at the partly Brown spine) Spleenwort, Asplenium of Jahandiez is, of course, fully protected. Only pleasure.
Emile Jahandiez, to whom it is dedicated, is a botanist who surveyed the Var and Haute-Provence at the beginning of the 20th century and to which we owe (with his partner Abel Albert) a catalogue of vascular plants of Var.


The skumpija or Pigwidgeon, must its "wig tree" nickname to the large pyramidal inflorescence emerging from spring to the fall of its foliage. Recalling the hairstyles in the Court of Louis XIV, the "wig" is pale pink first, then silver-grey when flowers fade. It is in the fall only on the will better, when it folder of red blood, in the middle of his cronies maples, the hillsides and the dry undergrowth of Haute-Provence. The leaves, tender green first in summer, recognized by their long petiole and well oval shape. More doubt if, in addition, when you or crease, a good mango smell comes out. Skumpija, like most of the sumac, was used in tanning for the content of tannin from its leaves and bark, or dyeing, its root containing yellow and Red dyes. But it is not the most esteemed for such uses.

Genet of Villars

If you try to sit atop large margins, there are chances that a fleshy part of your Anatomy not say you thank you. As agrippe rock, crawling from any cracks or crevices, a small broom will notify you as well by some mischievous Thorn, deserves a little more respect. Indeed, the Villars genet, which blooms from May onwards, is a phenomenon. Follower of the extreme, he disdains the comfort and only found on ridges or at the top of the cliffs where the conditions, icy wind and aridity, radically discourage most of its congeners. It is dedicated to a great name of Botany, Dominique VILLARS (1745-1814), author of the story of the plants of the Dauphine between 1786 and 1789, basis for the study of the alpine flora.

Floor flora: inversion of floors

When coming from la Palud-sur-Verdon, we view the panorama of the Gorge, past e first coup de Cœur, an attentive eye will notice that the color of vegetation, in the bands parraleles, stresses the landscape from the top of the big margins to the bottom of the Gorge. Particularly clear in winter, this zoning allows to distinguish three levels of vegetation corresponding to the dominance of the three hardwood species most characteristic of Haute Provence. Under the big Margés, trunks stripped to the reddish nuances of the beech forest. Below, the White Oaks that, marcescents, keep their faded leaves all winter. And, at the edge of the Gorge, on the hillsides are best exposed Evergreen Holm oak foliage. Until then, nothing but very normal, since these three species occur naturally in altitude when it rises from the Mediterranean to the foothills of the Alps. The surprise comes when continuing to scan the landscape, the eye plunges into Gorge. Under the edge dressed Holm, found oak white, and in the bottom of the gorges, beech. This «inversion of floor» (vegetation) is hard to the microclimate created by the cashing of the gorges, more fresh and shaded as that is depressed.

Downy oak

The Blaches, the blacas family, the Blaques are the names of frequent so-called locations on all the maps of Haute-Provence. They emphasize the omnipresence of oak which forms, with Scots pine, the dominant vegetation between 500 and 1200 m. yet, the simplicity of its location (it is everywhere), is, as often, a pretty pataquès concerning its name, in which even the botanists lose their latin. White Oak for the Provencal, it is called black oak in the Southwest. Quercus humilis for "purist" botanists, kaer quez, beautiful tree, Celtic and latin humilis, humble (perhaps because it is not the most impressive of the family), it is mentioned in the ancient flores as Quercus pubescens or Quercus lanuginosa (pubescens hairy =, lanuginosa woolly =, alluding to felting whitish hairs from the underside of the leaf). Finally, it is perhaps as truffle oak it can put everyone in agreement, even if some grief spirit will point out that he shared with green oak the honour to host the black diamond. Hard working, white oak, sometimes used for the manufacture of railway or small structural ties, is especially appreciated as excellent firewood.
Aleppo Pine, translation of its Latin identity Pinus halepensis, is a somewhat misleading name for this immemorial pillar of Mediterranean vegetation. It is in the 18th century that a Swedish naturalist, Curry Linnaeus, an idea of french Tournefort, sets up the "binomial" nomenclature that still prevails today to name all the diversity of the living world. At each species, it assigns a name of 'genre' (here Pinus, which includes all the Pins), and a species name (halepensis for Aleppo Pine, sylvestris for Scots pine, etc.). The use of the latin language, provides the double advantage to offend anyone and be "universal". To advance in its classification, Linné utilizes a network of collectors who, four corners of the world, make it send the samples to whom he attributed a latin binomial. This is so that a sample of pine reaches him of Aleppo (in Syria), which gives it, perhaps out of imagination (he named many thousands of animal and plant species) species name "halepensis". Astragalus, the aphyllanthaceae or maple, all three "Montpellier", named from samples sent to Linnaeus by the Faculty of Medicine of Montpellier are similar examples.


Domestic Rowan or cormier, sorbier torminal, Rowan of the Alps or white rose, these three present shrubs on the route can frequently doubt the sanity of botanists.Indeed, whole for cormier, lobed to the torminal, or composed for the servant, it seems difficult to find most dissimilar leaves. It is at the time of flowering that clears up the mystery. The classification of plants is done on the structure of here white, petals 5, large flowers, toothcup corymbs. The mountain ash are sought in carpentry and Cabinet-making to the exceptional qualities of their wood. Stable and very resistant to friction, but delicate drying, it was once used for the manufacture of the mills gear teeth, screws of pressai: or even objects of precision.

Roads of fruit and wine 

In the Durance valley, vine was cultivated in the eleventh century, and if today's fruit growing tendency to replace the wine, the latter remains very present on common Rousset Espinasses, Theus, Monêtier-Allemont producing red wine country, rosé and white. But if fruits are produced in the region since the sixteenth century, enjoying plenty of sunshine, low humidity and the difference accused of daytime and nighttime temperatures, the impoundment of the dam of Serre-Ponçon allowing sprinkler irrigation basin downstream of the dam, gave a boost to the production which distinguish the golden delicious apple, pear and the passecrassane, too, but in smaller volumes, the redwing fishing.

paddle boat in the Lake Sainte-Croix
Climbing tree
Pont de Galetas
Pont du Roc

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