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The Vegetation of the Sierra de Guadarrama

The Vegetation of the Sierra de Guadarrama


The vegetation of the Sierra de Guadarrama is formed of plant communities, characteristic of the Central System. An important part of them are Guadarrama endemism. The most representative ones are the scots pine (or Valsaín pine) the high mountain thickets of broom and creeping juniper, and the psychroxerophilous grasslands that grow on the summits of the Sierra.

In the surroundings of the summits and highest slopes complex mosaics are formed by wet grasses, peat bogs, ponds and lagoons, xerophilous grasses, plant communities of cracks and rocky ledges, etc. that alternate. This is the habitat in which the greatest diversity of plant communities and the unique flora of the territory grow.


The Sierra de Guadarrama presents a high floristic diversity favoured by multiple factors related mainly to its geographical location. This location has made the existence of transitional characteristics between the Mediterranean and the Euro-Siberian region possible. In this respect, the Sierra de Guadarrama has acted as a refuge for colder environment species that used to have a wider distribution and have disappeared from the bordering territories. Also, the big differences of altitude of the Sierra de Guadarrama generated to the high variability of climate and soil factors in a relatively small area, which led to the existence of a large number of habitats. Its geographical isolation, as a major mountain range in the heart of the Castilian plateau, has led to significant endemic processes. Although there are no definitive studies based on which to precisely calculate the number of vascular plants that inhabit the Sierra de Guadarrama, there are approximately 1,300 taxa between species and subspecies.


Fungi play a fundamental role in the ecological functioning of forests. Most of them are saprophytic species that act by decomposing animal and plant organic matter, enriching the soil and incorporating nutrients into the food chain. Others are symbionts, and they form an association with the roots of certain plants creating mycorrhizae, allowing these plants to grow in specific environments, such as poor or waterlogged soil. Therefore, the conservation of fungi is essential for the preservation of forests and their habitat. In spring and especially in autumn, fruiting bodies (mushrooms) of all shapes and colours sprout on the slopes of the Sierra de Guadarrama.


The inside of the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park forests hosts abundant lichens, which upholster the bark of the trees and certain shady spots. But it is on the rocks that form the summits of the mountains where a rare lichens diversity takes place, being the lichens the dominant living organisms in these rupicolous plant communities. Their yellowish, greenish, greyish, orange, brown or blackish stalks they give colour to the rocks.

Unique trees

In the Sierra de Guadarrama, there are trees listed as unique. When coming upon one of these giants certainly we will not be left indifferent. Stunning shafts, thick trunks and huge twisted branches will invite us to contemplate and to the pay the utmost respect to these natural jewels.