In autumn, this hike promises a very special experience. The larch needles change colour from green to yellow and then rust-red. Here, it’s easy to understand why walkers talk so enthusiastically about golden autumn walks. In winter, the trees are bare.
For centuries, local people hunted nutcrackers. These birds were considered pests: because their diet consists mainly of pine seeds, it was thought they prevented regeneration of the forest and hindered growth of new trees.
Only in the 1950s did scientists discover the secret of the nutcracker. On balance, these birds are of great benefit to the forest: the relatively heavy seeds of the Swiss stone pine are not dispersed by wind, as with other species of conifer, but through the activities of the nutcracker. Each bird gathers between 30,000 and 100,000 seeds a year, which it buries in the ground as a food supply. In winter, it has to dig up to 1 m deep in the snow to retrieve them. However, it does not find all the seeds again…
- Larch wood is extensively used as a building material in Valais
- Larches are resistant to vermin (because of high levels of resin)
- Larches lose their needles in late autumn
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