The alpine life zone

  • Christian Körner


What does “alpine” mean? One common explanation is that the term is of Latin origin and means “white” or “snow-covered” (from “albus” = white, with reference to the North Italian peaks of the Alps as seen by the Romans; Löve 1970). However, today linguists consider this as purely coincidental and the term is most likely of pre-Roman origin, with “alp” or “alb” standing for “mountain” in general. Even the Basques use “alpo” for mountain flanks in their non-Indo-Germanic, ancient language. Traditional terms as Alpe/Alpes (Romanic languages), Alp (Swiss and other Allemannic regions) or Alm (Austrian or Bavarian) used by farmers in the Alps refer to man-made pastures for summer grazing at or below the upper treeline. In today’s common language “alpine” is often applied to whole mountain regions including valleys and townships or is used as a general substitute for mountains.


Alpine Plant Alpine Area Regional Flora Alpine Zone Alpine Species 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christian Körner
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of BotanyUniversity of BaselBaselSwitzerland

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