The Alpine Botanical Garden of Campo Imperatore is located along the southern slopes of Mount Aquila on the western aspect of Gran Sasso d’Italia (in the Province of L’Aquila), at an altitude of about 2,120 m above sea level. It is therefore definitely above the limits of forest vegetation, in the heart of the National Park of Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga.
Founded in 1952 by Prof. Vincenzo Rivera, a Professor in Botany at the University of Rome and the first Rector of the University of L’Aquila, it is now managed by the Department of Environmental Sciences and the L’Aquila Territorial Office for Biodiversity (Ministry of Agriculture and Forest Policies), with the collaboration of the National Park of Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga.
According to the Regional Law of 9th April, 1997, N° 35, entitled, “The protection of the vegetal biodiversity and the management of botanical gardens”, the Garden has been designated to be of regional interest by the Region of Abruzzo. The High Altitude Ornithological Station also has its headquarters here.
The species introduced in recent years include: the very rare rock jasmine (Androsace mathildae), with an amphi-Adriatic distribution; the Campo Imperatore fescue (Festuca Imperatrix), a recently described graminacea that is endemic to the pastures of Gran Sasso; the Apennine pheasant’s eye (Adonis distorta), endemic to the central Apennines; the globeflower (Trollius europaeus), a glacial relict with an arctic-alpine distribution; the sedge Carex frigida, a south-European silicaceous orophyte; the ferns Cystopteris alpina and Cystopteris fragilis; glaucous sedge (Carex firma), a south-European orophyte that is only known in the Apennines on Gran Sasso; the Abruzzo blue sedge (Carex flacca subsp. praetutiana), endemic to the central Apennines; the orchid Dactylorhiza incarnata subsp. incarnata, a glacial relict with a Euro-Siberian distribution; the round-leaved restharrow (Ononis rotundifolia), a very rare north-western Mediterranean orophyte; the leafless-stemmed speedwell (Veronica aphylla) and the blue-green saxifrage (Saxifraga caesia), south European orophytes.