The Botanical garden - Orto botanico 'Pellegrini - Ansaldi'

Go to content
The Botanical garden

An alpine garden in the Regional Park of the Apuan Alps
The Botanical Garden of the Apuan Alps is dedicated to the doctor and botanist Pietro Pellegrini (1867-1957) that conducted many studies on the flora of the Apuan territory. It is located at Pian della Fioba and along the scenic route that connects Massa with the Garfagnana. It extends for approximately 3 hectares on a rocky spur that develops between 850 and 950 m above sea level, in small part composed of schist porphyritic (Permian-Paleozoic) of siliceous nature, and for the remainder by “grezzoni” (Triassic-Mesozoic) of limestone nature. It was founded on 22 July 1966 with the aim of studying and preserving the peculiar Apuan flora, making it known to the public through educational and didactic activities. The owner is the municipality of Massa that run it with the University of Pisa, Florence and Siena. The choice of this site is due to the ease of reaching it, amenity of the places and abundance of the natural plant species, also courtesy of the diversity of the substratum.
In the 1998, the Botanical Garden of Pian della Fioba was listed among the archaeological sites of the Municipality of Massa; it was found a few fragments of acromi ceramic, among which an amphora shoulder and tip of the pre-Roman and Roman age.
Fields and collections
The plant cover of the botanical Garden “P. Pellegrini” is mostly native; the most interesting species of the Apuan flora grow naturally. The tour of the botanical Garden is a little naturalistic field trip: going up along the path, it is possible to observe many of the plants that live on the Apuan chain, among which there are a lot of endemic, relict species or with a restricted area distribution. In its several aspects, the botanical Garden reminds of specific situations of different areas of the Apuane. There are different fields: on the lower part, that is of siliceous substrate, there are the arboretum, the chestnuts collection, the pond and a little vaccinium, and so in the larger part, that is of limestone substratum, there is the oak-hornbeam forest with rocky outcrops on which there is the rupicolous vegetation.

The arboretum
Entering the botanical Garden, you cross the arboretum, an experimental cultivation of tall plants, mostly conifers, planted with the foundation of the Garden itself, that currently are hydrated gradually. They are predominantly the black pine (Pinus nigra Arnold subsp. nigra), the eastern white pine (Pinus strobus L.), the maritime pine (Pinus pinaster Aiton), the silver fir (Abies alba Miller), the Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica (Endl.), the Lawson cypress (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana (Murray) Parl.), the Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirbel) Franco), the Italian alder (Alnus cordata (Loisel.) Desf.) and the sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus L.).
The chestnut found again
On the lower part, where there are mostly siliceous rocks, there are some acidophilic plants, that on the Apuane live in the chestnut forest (Castanea sativa Miller), like the salvia cistus (Cistus salvifolius L.), the tree heather (Erica arborea L.), and more (Teucrium scorodonia L., Digitalis lutea L., Phyteuma orbiculare L.). Here there are the collection of the chestnut cultivar, that are present on the Apuan Alps, still in the realisation phase; among the collected ones, there are the Politora, the Cardaccio, the Pontecosa, the Rosa and more.

The vaccinium
On the siliceous rocks it still lives the European blueberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), that represents a type of plant species that is present on the highest mountains of siliceous nature of the Apuan Alps: the blueberry moor.

The pond
In the lower part of the botanical Garden, nearby the refuge-laboratory, it was realised a pond that has some of the plants of the wetlands of altitude of the Apuan Alps, important species, now present only in particular ecosystems (Alchemilla xanthochlora Rothm., Dactylorhiza maculata (L.) Soò, Eleocharis palustris (L.) R. et S., Eriophorum latifolium Hoppe, Galium palustre L., Mentha aquatica L., Veratrum album L. subsp. lobelianum (Bernh.) Arcang.).

The oak-hornbeam forest
The greater extension of the Botanical Garden has a substratum composed of dolomite; here the tree cover is quite uncommon, and mostly made of the European hop-hornbeams (Ostrya carpinifolia Scop.), Turkey oaks (Quercus cerris L.), manna ashs (Fraxinus ornus L.) and whitebeams (Sorbus aria (L.) Crantz). The wide clearings are covered in spring by showy blooms of shrubs like the wayfarer (Viburnum lantana L.), the scorpion senna (Coronilla emerus L.) and the snowy mespilus (Amelanchier ovalis Medicus).

The rupicolous vegetation
The limestone rocky outcrops, or the clearings, offer a perfect natural environment for the various endemic species; one of them, the globularia (Globularia incanescens Viv.), was selected as the symbol of the Botanical Garden. Among the endemic plants, many are exclusive of the Apuan Alps (Salix crataegifolia Bertol., Santolina leucantha Bertol., Polygala carueliana (Benn.) Burnat), others of the Apuane and the Lucca Appennines (Thesium sommieri Hendrych, Buphthalmum salicifolium L. subsp. flexile (Bertol.) Garbari, Carex macrostachys Bertol., Moltkia suffruticosa (L.) Brand, Rhamnus glaucophyllus Sommier, Leontodon anomalus Ball). Some of the flowers that we can see at Pian della Fioba are present in a large part of the Apennine chain (Scabiosa holosericea Bertol., Centaurea arrigonii Greuter, Orchis pauciflora Ten.), others are present in the mountains of the Mediterranean basin (Astragalus purpureus Lam. subsp. gremlii Asch. et Gr., Hypericum coris L., Helianthemum oelandicum (L.) DC. subsp. italicum (L.) Font-Quer et Rothm., Anthyllis montana L.).
At certain times also appear some mushrooms: the parasol mushroom (Macrolepiota procera (Scop.) Singer), the girolle (Cantharellus cibarius Fr.: Fr.), the green-cracking russula (Russula virescens (Schaeff.) Fr.), and more.

The bushes
Some restricted areas of the botanical Garden were in the past several times affected by fire; as a consequence, on these surfaces have spread invasive plant species and of phytogeographic little value, like bracken (Pteridium aquilinum (L.) Kuhn) and some species of rubus (Rubus sp.).
L'ORTO BOTANICO PIETRO PELLEGRINI, Un giardino alpino nel Parco Regionale delle Alpi Apuane
Back to content