At the beginning of summer, particularly in June, slopes of several ranges of Carpathian mountains are covered with a spectacular pink carpet of tender flowers. The most famous Ukrainian folk name of this flower is Chervona Ruta. After the song of a very popular Ukrainian songwriter, composer and poet Volodymyr Ivasyuk, Chervona Ruta has become one of the symbols of Ukraine, similar to Kalyna (guelder rose). Chervona Ruta is a special flower for highlanders, it is loved, honored, and praised in folklore. Its bloom became the symbol of love. Listen the song here >>> Chervona Ruta
So, what exactly Chervona Ruta is?
It is a broadleaf evergreen shrub Rhododendron myrtifolium, also known as Rhododendron kotschyi, Carpathian rhododendron, Eastern-Carpathian rhododendron, the sole representative of the genus Rhododendron in the Carpathian Mountains region.
The present natural growing range of Rhododendron myrtifolium is very limited. It grows in the Eastern Carpathian Mountains region (Ukraine), in the Southern Carpathian Mountains (Romania), and in the Rhodope Mountains (Bulgaria and Greece). It is generally found at subalpine levels at heights from 1500-2500 m above sea level; however, in the Eastern Carpathian Mountains it also grows in the alpine zone.
In Ukraine, Rhododendron myrtifolium can be found growing in compact groups on the northern and southern slopes (1500-1600 m above sea level) of Chornohora, the highest range of the Eastern Carpathian Mountains, on Petros and Hoverla (2062 m) peaks in the West, to the peak of Pip Ivan Chornohorski in the East. The species also grows sparsely in the Eastern Carpathian range of Svidovce (Bliznica peak), the Gorgany range (Sijniak and Chomjak peaks), Chyvchyny, and the Marmarosk Alps, also called Hutsul Alps (Pip Ivan Marmaroski peak).
Maramorosk mountains also called “Hutsul Alps”, but actually Hutsul Alps – is only a part of the range. Another part of them, Chyvchyny, located in the northeast of Marmarosk mountains. Marmaros are ancient Carpathian Mountains. Marmaros mountains lie in Romania and their northern and north-western parts – Chyvchyny and Rakhiv mountains are located in Ukraine.
The plant prefers sunny locations and grows on the highest peaks of the mountain, on the steep mountain edges and faults creating thick and widespread thickets, but can also be found growing in small groups or individually. (scholar.lib.vt.edu)
The number of natural stands of the Chervona Ruta (Rhododendron myrtifolium) is diminishing. In fact, the flower is listed as an endangered species in the so-called “Chervona knyga Ukrainy” (Red book of Ukraine) that listed all endangered species in the country. Once the plant is listed in the book, it is prohibited by law to harvest, cut or destroy the plant.
Many tourists go to Carpathian mountains, Chornogora ridge and Marmarosk Alps in order to see and enjoy the view of the blooming Chervona ruta. Chornogora range is located on the administrative border between Ivano-Frankivsk and Zakarpattia oblasts. It is adjacent to the Gorgany range. The highest peak of Chornohora is Hoverla (2,062 m) with other high peaks including Pip Ivan (2,022 m) and Petros (2,020 m).
Actually, these mountains are spectacular not only in June. Crocus heuffelianus, another rare flower, appears in the middle of March and blooms till May. Absolutely magnificent view!
photo Roman Mykhailyuk
Legends and beliefs about Chervona Ruta
The extraordinary beauty of flowers and the fact that they only grow on the tops of mountains, has created many legends. In particular, the Highlanders believed that Chervona Ruta is usually yellow, and only on Ivan Kupala night, it becomes red for a moment, and the girl who finds such a flower, certainly will be lucky in love.
Hutsuly also believed that Chervona Ruta has healing properties, and also it can help attract the love. Perhaps the reason for this belief was that young boys and girls were going to the mountains first time after winter in May and June, when the snow melted, and just at that time Chervona Ruta is blooming in the mountains. So, this bloom was adding special charms to the meetings of young people.
There is a legend that once upon a time the Tatars attacked one village and captured the boy. Later he was sold to the Turks as a galley rower. After a lot of hard work prisoners were losing memory, forgetting their relatives and loved ones, and where they were from. Such prisoners were not even shackled in chains. but that young guy had a girl, who loved him so much and couldn’t forget him. So, when the cranes flew away to warmer climes, she asked birds to pass a red flower to the boy she loved. As soon as the young man took it in hand, his memory came back to him immediately. Prisoners gathered together, killed the guard and rushed at full sails to their native land with the red flower on the mast.
Getting ready to travel? Here you can check and buy a backpack online: