Natural landscape

The valley of the Wilde Weißeritz near Tharandt is a transitional area that extends from the lower mountainous areas of the Eastern Ore Mountains to the more moderate hilly countryside. Geologically it changes from the Freiberg grey gneiss type to the “Rotliegend” in the Döhlen basin. The vegetation changes from mixed beech forests to mixed oak forests. In its lower reaches, the Wilde Weißeritz has created a notch valley that is over one hundred metres deep in places, mainly in Freiberg grey gneiss, but also occasionally in quartz porphyry. The valley slopes are not only considerably high, but also very steep in places with cliff formations, rock faces and boulder fields. Short, precipitation-rich side streams tumble down from the surrounding plateaus to the Wild Weißeritz: from the right, Kleiner and Großer Stieflitzbach, Höckenbach and Harthebach; from the left, Seerenbach, Tiefergrund- and Breitergrundbach, Schloitzbach and Pastritzbach.

The Weißeritz valley slopes read like an open textbook of geo-botany. For example, while the northern slopes are dominated by mixed beech forests in their various forms, the area between Tharandt and Hainsberg is characterised by oak-hornbeam forests on the south-facing slopes, sometimes with winter lime. These were promoted by the now historical forest utilisation forms of coppice forestry and “Mittelwaldwirtschaft” . Until the end of the 19th century, and in some cases until the middle of the 20th century, the young trees were sawn off or chopped down with axes, whereupon the remaining tree trunk regenerated with new shoots. The coppice forest is a form of management with two objectives: The production of firewood and the production of timber. Both are carried out on the same area but in different layers and in different rotation periods of the trees. Traces of these forms of forest utilisation can still be discovered in the surroundings of Tharandt.

The Weißeritz valley slopes offer an exceptional wealth of forest communities of near-natural mixed deciduous forests in Saxony which led to the designation as a nature reserve in 1961. The high number and density of habitat types with significant European importance also justify the designation of the lower Weißeritz valley as a fauna-flora habitat area (FFH).

The endangered “Chequered blue“ butterfly (Scolitantides orion, Pallas 1771)

One of the rare species found on the south-facing slopes around here is the strictly protected chequered blue butterfly (Scolitantides orion, Pallas 1771). It is on the Red List of endangered species in Saxony and Germany. It requires sunny rocky slopes where the stonecrop plant Hylotelephium telephium (which has many common names in English e.g. orpine, livelong, frog’s-stomach, harping Johnny, life-everlasting, live-forever, midsummer-men, Orphan John and witch’s moneybags) grows as a food plant for the caterpillars. The adults of the chequered blue fly from June to the end of August. The eggs are laid on plants. The caterpillars initially feed inside the leaves. As they grow, they emerge and, like almost all caterpillars of the blue butterfly family, are “guarded” by ants. They pupate in rock crevices or in the overlying litter layer. The adults feed on a variety of nectar plants, with a preference for white flowers.

Nature Guide East Erzgebirge

Volume 3: Natural History Destinations in the Eastern Erzgebirge ISBN 978-3-940319-18-0
Volume 4: Natural Treasures of the Eastern Erzgebirge ISBN 978-3-95498-170-0


Naturlandschaft | Přírodní krajina

More information

Zur Geschichte der Johannishöhe | Johannishöhe – včera a dnes | Johannishöhe – past and present

Kulturlandschaft | Kulturní krajina | Cultural landscape

Logo Leader komplett