The wealth of flora is reflected in the list of 1,000 plant species and subspecies recorded to date, 79 of them endemic. The great diversity, the presence of relict, endemic, rare, statutorily protected species many of which are included in the Red Book of Plant Species of the Republic of Croatia and the IUNC’s Red List of Endangered Plant Species, make the Park a very valuable floristic area, not just in Croatia, but in Europe and the world as well. The following genera prevail in the Park’s flora: daisies (Asteraceae) and (Cichoriaceae), grasses (Poaceae), legumes (Fabaceae), mints (Lamiaceae), roses (Rosaceae) and carnations (Caryophyllaceae).
The wearing and breaking of rocks under the influence of sun, ice, water and temperature under steep cliffs and peaks such as Buljma or Vaganski vrh have developed seeping points. Only a small number of species can be sustained in such karstic habitats because the surface is loose and moving, and the broken rocks are of different sizes. Many endemic plants grow at seeping points, such as the columbine (Aquilegia kitaibelii), Seseli malyi, the tertiary relict alpine toadflex (Linaria alpina), and the widely spread nailwort (Paronychia kapela).
Columbine (Aquilegia kitaibelii)
The cracks in the rocks have specific microclimatic conditions, enabling many plants to survive the unfavorable period of the last glaciation. That is why numerous endemic and relict species can be found in such karstic habitats. These include the bell flower (Campanula fenestrellata), Croatian bell flower (Campanula cochleariifolia), Waldstein bell flower (Campanula waldsteiniana) and Arenaria orbicularis, which only grow in the canyons of Velika Paklenica and Mala Paklenica and nowhere else in the world.
Waldstein bell flower (Campanula waldsteiniana)
Rocky areas are grown with rare and endangered species such as the tulip (Tulipa sylvestris), Alpine Daphne (Daphne alpina), globe daisy (Globularia cordifolia), Rhamnus intermedia and grape hyacinth (Muscari botryoides).
Communities develop in sinkholes where snow is sustained for a long time, their wealth of species and colors of the flowers making the most beautiful plant formations in Paklenica National Park. The species particularly great in number here are orange and yellow Carniolan lillies (Lilium carniolicum), thyme (Thymus sp.), greater masterwort (Astrantia major), buckler mustard (Biscutella laevigata) and Rose Daphne (Daphne cneorum). The lower parts of the Park in Velika Močila and Mala Močila have moist meadows and treatable areas rich in orchids in springtime.
Carniolan lillies (Lilium carniolicum)
As a rarity, we will highlight the lady slipper orchid (Cypripedium calceolus), one of the most beautiful European orchids, found on a Lika slope on the edge of a beech forest.
The forest phenomenon is one of the main reasons why the South Velebit area was proclaimed a national park.
In the lowest parts, communities of combined pubescent oak and oriental hornbeam forests (Querco-Carpinetum orientalis) develop. Above this community are the forests of Seslerio-Ostryetum, developed at altitudes between 650 and 900 m, especially on the littoral slopes under the influence of the Mediterranean climate. Going further up, these are followed by beech forest with autumn moor grass (Seslerio-Fagetum sylvaticae). These forests cover various altitude ranges (300-900 m) and represent the most numerous beech communities in Paklenica. A community of black pine forest with cotoneaster (Cotoneastro-Pinetum nigrae) develops on the extremely shallow and skeletal dry grounds of pointed cliffs and heads in the central part of the Park. It develops naturally on cliffs and steep slopes at an altitude between 400 and 1200 m. The forests of northern holly fern with yew (Polystycho lonchytis-Fagetum) form the upper border of forest vegetation at an altitude between 1000 and 1450 m. Due to the snow that sustains longer here, the trunks are bent in the lower part, knotty and often have unusual shapes. In its uppermost part, the community comprises beech woods. Luzulo-Fagetum forests grow on the acid surface of Triassic clastic rock. They have no bushes – the ground is covered with a layer of moss, making it seem airy and ensuring moisture for the rich fauna in the ground. A Lamio orvalae-Fagetum forest is developed near the water flow. Lonicero borbasianae-Pinetum mugi occupies the highest belt of Velebit. This is the largest and most compact area under pine wood in the entire Croatia.