Saffron fields, which in the lowlands bloom in the early spring, and in the mountains will be blooming until the summer, are one of the main tourist attractions of Transcarpathia.
These incredibly gentle flowers, which often appear before the snow even melts, are also called "bryndushi" in Transcarpathia. Crocus heuffelianus or Heuffel saffron is the scientific name. These "tourist" (wild) saffrons are named after the Hungarian doctor and botanist Janos Heuffel, who researched, in particular, the Carpathian flora. The largest habitats, that are already included in the tourist routes, are the lawns in the village of Kolochava in Mizhhirya district, some areas near the resorts of Svalyava district, and others like that. And, of course, some fields in the reserves and in the mountain valleys high in the Carpathians. In the majority of cases, they can be visited only accompanied by local guides and with the help of foresters, for example, lawns in Shalanky forestry in Vynogradiv district.
But it is the arboretum "Berezynka" in Mukachevo district that opens the season as one of the low-lying populations. Here, more than 10 hectares of the territory are covered with saffron fields. The park is one of the most accessible places for contemplating the saffron flowering. "Berezynka" crocuses were "discovered" by Transcarpathian photographers, including our author Serhiy Hudak. They say that the flowers have been abundantly growing here only in the last 5-6 years. Natalia Slobodyanyuk, the master of the forest nursery of the arboretum "Berezynka" emphasizes: these beautiful fields are created solely by nature. And now they have to be protected from humans…
Today, they already complain about the popularity of this place: during the flowering season, there are too many people here, and not all of them treat the nature properly. Tourists want to take pictures of not just the delicate flowers, but of themselves among them, and this inevitably leads to trampling.
The bright purple lawns of the small flowers that open themsleves to the sun are pure joy of nature. But the human is capable of influencing it. And this influence is often disastrous.
It is the man who is the main enemy, a pest for the saffron, – Oleg Kolesnyk, Ph.D. in Biology, Head of the Department of Botany at the Uzfgorod National University says.
Oleg Kolesnyk emphasizes: if you want to take tourists to see the saffron lawns, then it is necessary to provide paths and observation decks, otherwise soon there will be nothing to show. "In fact, we have to protect everything, the entire Transcarpathian nature: to protect the saffrons, and to stop people from littering and polluting rivers… It is not right when a tourist complains: see, some people cut down the forests in the Carpathians, and I am not allowed to pick one flower. No, you are not! One crime can not cover another one. It is a moral aspect. And you should understand: everything is connected in nature. We can not even predict now how the destruction of one species populations will affect the entire ecosystem. If you want to admire the flowers at home – do not harm nature, grow it yourself, there are now plenty of opportunities for this, there are decorative species of the same saffron, they are also beautiful and not listed in the Red Book", – the scientist emphasizes.
Yes, some people view the Transcarpathian lawns of the wild crocus as potential profit. It is a crime. The flower is listed in the Red Book of Ukraine (and, as Mr. Kolesnyk says, is also protected in all the neighboring countries), it is protected by the law, and there are considerable fines for picking them. Of course, this does not stop all criminals, and during the saffron flowering season, you can often see sellers of bouquets on roadsides. It should be noted that this flower will not stay long in a vase, it immediately withers "in captivity".
The flowers should be admired only in the natural environment and with all due respect to nature and with gratitude for such a beauty. The Crocus flowering season in Transcarpathia has just started, having been delayed due to a cold snap, and will last for at least a month. In the high mountain valleys, Heuflet saffron will still be pleasing the tourist’s eye even in June. And on the peaks of the Chornohora ridge, such as Pip Ivan, and, of course, on the Hoverla, the purple delicate stars can be seen even in July…