1 Mount Caslano

Geological map
Vegetation map

Adapted by:  P. Schildknecht & C.A. Burga, Geographisches Institut der Universität Zürich, 2008

Chronology of rock formations.

The migration of the rock formation environment of Monte Caslano (starred), illustrated by four paleogeographic reconstructions relating to subsequent periods. A journey that began at the equator, through ancient mountain ranges, vanished seas, new mountains and recent glaciers.

The history of Monte Caslano is marked by a series of geological events that began over 340 million years ago. At the time of their formation, in the Lower Carboniferous period, its rocks the oldest were part of the variscan chain, an ancient mountain ridge which then extended across the equator. Subsequently, by effect of plate tectonics, the formation environment of the Monte Caslano rocks migrated to the north until it reached its current latitude and to be finally involved in the formation of the Alps. Along the path you will find several rocky outcrops that emerge from the quaternary coverage of the mountain (glacial moraines and rock debris) and that, together with this, allow the reading of such a geological history, expressed by an extraordinary geodiversity: in spite of the limited surface there are in fact represented all the main classes of rocks.


Sedimentary rocks are encountered, formed in river, delta and marine environments. Magmatic rocks, produced by volcanic explosive eruptions, can be seen. Finally, you cross metamorphic rocks, the most ancient, generated by the high pressures and temperatures related to the formation of the variscan mountain range, much older than the alpine one instead responsible for the current significance.

The variety of soils and the particular shape of the mountain are at the origin of its surprising floristic richness. There are, in fact, about 600 vascular plants (ferns and seedlings) and 150 species of mosses in a limited area. In addition to the indigenous species, on the mountain you will find numerous exotic plants (neophytes), established from gardens or cultivation.

Many of these species, which bloom alternately almost without interruption throughout the year, can be seen along the path that crosses the various habitats of the mountain. It then goes initially into broadleaf forests and chestnut groves, that develop on the acidic soils of the northern slope. Then we cross the bushy wood with black hornbeam, present on the carbonate-rich soils of the steep southern slope which, in the most inaccessible and sunny areas, is characterized by bare rock walls and dry meadows. Finally, we reach the rock debris of the eastern flank, which is home to pioneer plant formations.

For these and other reasons, Monte Caslano has long been included in the Federal Inventory of Landscapes, Sites and Natural Monuments of National Importance and is an area of national and cantonal natural interest. The collection of flowers, plants, rocks and fossils as well as the hunting of animals are prohibited all over the mountain.

Credits: Museo cantonale di storia naturale