Bergåsen is a distinct limestone ridge situated centrally in Snåsa. The area has several cultural heritage monuments, but is best knows for its large and diverse orchid flora. The actual limestone deposit, which is lying on a conglomerate, is believed to have been formed in the Ordovician period about 500 - 450 million years ago.
Bergåsen was delared protected as a nature reserve and plant preservation area in 1977. The main aim of the preservation order is to protect the special plant life found at Bergåsen.
Bergåsen has long been known far beyond the borders of Snåsa due to its rich vegetation. The first known botanic survey was carried out by bishop Johan Ernst Gunnerus during a visit to Snåsa in 1779. The lime-rich ground is one of the main reasons for there being richer plant life on this ridge than we usually find in our nature.
Considerable areas of Bergåsen are limeston pine forest. The pine trees stand on the actual limestone bedrock and the is little or no humus cover.
In the bottom layer grows a variety of lime-demanding plant species. In May/June large areas can be covered in lily-of-the valley (Convallaria majalis). At the same time the ground can also be covered in roseaceas or mountain avens (Dryas octopetela), which are certainly not an unusual sight in lime-rich ground in the high mountains, but are rather a rarer sight in the lowlands.
Bergåsen is rich in orchids by Norwegian standards. 16 species of orchids have been recorded. One of the most beautiful wild herbs we have in this country grows here - Lady's slipper or Madonna's slipper (Cypripendium caceolus). Fly orchid (Ophrys insectifera) also grows in this area.
In addition, a number of thermophilious bushes also grow at Bergåsenious: Hazel (Corylus avellana), Wild cotoneaster (Cotoneaster integerrimus), Buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula), Guelder rose or European cranberry (Viburnum opulus) and February Daphne (Daphne mezereum).
In the nature reserve there is a nature trail that starts near the Snåsa center with information posters about the flora in the area. See the picture series above for a map with nature trail plotted.
* All vegetation is protected and all flowers must be allowed to stand undisturbed.
* The small lake at Bergåsen, Heimsjøen, is drinking water and swimming and fishing is not allowed.
* Lighting fires of any kind is prohibited.
* Littering must be avoided.
* Should you want a tangible memory: Use your camera!
The Orchids Lady's Slipper and Fly Orchid:
Of the six petals of the Lady's slipper, five are dark brown , whilst the sixth is shaped like a lemon coloured bowl. The Lady's slipper has no nectar and uses bothe scent and appearance to attract mining bees. Insects that enter the bowl are unable to exit the same way. The inside of the bowl is too waitsed and slippery. Instead they have to push forward to the back of the bowl, and thus pass both stigma and anthers, ensuring pollination.
Often only one paricular type of insect can pollinate a particular orchid and the Fly orchid, found in Bergåsen, is an example of this. The Fly orchid is possibly Norway's most cunning plant. The actual flower resembles the female of a particular wasp. This resemblance is thus an adaption to attract the male wasp, which hatch several weeks before the females. The males are "tricked" by the Fly orchid whilst waiting for the females. They fly from flower to flower, trying to mate, ensuring pollination this way.
Orchids are perennial plants with rhizomes or root formed like two nodules. Long ago people noticed that the two nodules were different. The biologist explanation for this is that one is a year old and therefore dark an shrivelled, whereas the other is light, smooth and full of stored nutrition.
In folk tradition it has been common to link the nodules with good and evil forces. a common game was to name the nodules Adam and Evee, before throwing them into a lake. The dark nodule then sank, and of course this was Eve beacause "she had sinned the most". In another tradition the root that sank ws called "the devil", whereas the one that floated was called "the angel".
There is also a long tradition of likening the nodules to testicles. The use of such nodules as aphrodisiacs has therefore been widespread. For ex, in some villages is is said that "if you put the root of the plant under the pillow of the one you hold dear, his or her heart will turn to you". From Snåsa there is a tradition that "ye can make folk fall for thee by slipping a wee bit of the root in their drink".