Geology and Flora

As is often in alpine regions, the geology of the Lauterbrunnen Valley is complex. At the end of the valley, lime and silicate minerals have formed together. The mineral structure extends from Stechelberg towards the South East. Marble and Mica are often found in these structures. Ore (lead-zinc with bayte) occurs in the area around Breitlauenen. In the past, a mining industry operated here. Glaciers have formed the sheer valley slopes, rocky outcrops and moraine walls. From the Sefinen Valley to the Tschingel Peak extends an almost homogeneous lime mineral complex.

The geology of the Lauterbrunnen Valley has influenced the variety and species of Flora. For example, some plant types prefer the lime-rich ground, others, avoid the lime.

A typical example of a lime-loving plant is the common Silberwurz (Dryas octopetala), part of the rose family. It is a low growing, evergreen shrub. The leaves are regularly notched and often the underside has a white felt-like touch. The blooms are usually large, white and have eight petals. When the flowers wither a fruiting body is produced of which some form feathery tails. The Silberwurz is one of the few plant species which occurs both here in the Alps and within the Arctic Circle. A pioneer plant of lime debris, it had an important role during the settlement of areas cleared after the retreat of the Ice Age glaciers. The plant is easily recognisable during its season; some plants even survive to be 100 years old. It is a protected species in Switzerland.