(Photo: HRT/Voice of Croatia) (Photo: HRT/Voice of Croatia)

This 744-page image guide delivers 2,750 photographs of plants such as wormholes, ferns, herbaceous plants, half-bushes and shrubs, and trees growing along the well-known Premužić trail on North Velebit.

“Research lasted together with photography and writing about six years, a little over six years, approximately. During that time, I personally travelled over 1,000 kilometres, on the trail itself, up down, and took over 30,000 photos. I spent over 100 days in the field, meaning in nature, sometimes there was bad weather, but I tried to choose nice days to take photographs. There were such interesting things and experiences on the trail. One day remains in my memory, I would say, it was a sort of snake day. It was interesting that I experienced a situation that day, like a cartoon. I walked along the Premužić trail and a Horned Viper was going along the other side of the path, he noticed me before I saw him, he stopped and made that cartoon "hiss, hiss" sound. I was waiting to see what would happen and he just passed me at a distance of two or three metres on my right and continued along the Premužić trail. I think I'll remember that one day it all my life,” said Dario Kremer, the head of the Fran Kušan Pharmaceutical Garden, a hiker and nature and floral enthusiast.

Dario Kremer, the head of the Fran Kušan Pharmaceutical Garden (Photo: HRT/Voice of Croatia)

Velebit is the biggest mountain in Croatia, and by beauty of landscapes, plant and animal life, it can stand up to much bigger and better known European mountains such as the Alps. The most beautiful parts of the northern and central Velebit Mountain are connected by the famous Premužić trail, which runs through two protected areas - the North Velebit National Park and the Velebit Nature Park.

“The Premužić trail runs through one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in Croatia. There are quite a number of visitors who arrive, not only for walking or hiking on the trail, but also for getting acquainted with the Velebit plant world. So, by talking to co-authors, Ana Brkljačićc and colleague Marko Randić, we made a decision to make a picture guide where the main emphasis will be on photographs, not text, because in order to successfully use a textual guide, you must already be closer to a professional. And to use a picture guide, it is much easier for you if you are not so familiar with the details of the plant world,” said Kremer.

On the northern Velebit the trail runs near Zavižan, it passes by the Alan pass, where it crosses into the central Velebit and ends near Baških Oštarija. It was built at the beginning of the thirties in the last century and is a masterpiece in construction of hiking trails, without cement and concrete, only using the dry stone technique of building with rock found at a given location. Engineer Ante Premužić from Sušak, who the trail was named after, prepared the project, organized construction and, together with workers, personally built it. Because of the extraordinary richness of plant life, with its many rarities and endemic species, Velebit excites nature enthusiasts and it has attracted the attention of natural scientists.

“We are unique in these endemic species. Namely, this area of the Dinarides is particularly interesting because conditions simply coincided here, so that some species developed in a certain manner in a different direction from their close relatives and thus became specific in this area. One of these areas is Velebit where we have some 80 endemic species so far that we know of. Of course, not all endemic species are exclusively related to the Velebit Mountain, but also to a wider area. So, we have a velvety clover or a Velebit Carnation, we also have a Croatian Yellow Barberry, that is a species that grows only on mountain peaks, it can be found on a portion of the Premužić trail between Alan and Zavižan. There is also a type of Croatian Rockcress, naturally also the Degenia Velebitca, but it cannot be found along the Premužić trail because it is a bit off the trail, on the central Velebit, that is the nearest location. We also have for example Micromeria Croatica, those are some of the endemic species on the trail itself,” notes Kremer.

(Photo: HRT/Voice of Croatia)

The importance of the book "The Floral World of the Premužić trail on the Velebit Mountain " by Dario Kremer, Ana Brkljačić and Marko Randić, is that every single plant species is depicted by means of several characteristic details important for the recognition of, for example, stems, roots, leaves and fruit. Collecting material for the book was a great effort, both in the field and later in the lab.

“Imagine how huge this job was. I would describe it like this, if someone is interested take into your garden ten plants from your close environment and begin to watch and observe how they bloom, then when they will give fruit, then take a picture of that fruit before it falls off. Then they will probably understand how much of a problem it is to observe more than six hundred various species. That's why it took about six years. But judging by volume of work this is far more difficult. It is much easier for you to write a book, somewhere you sit at a computer, and only do a description, only the text portion, this is much more difficult and there is always something missing. Otherwise, you go through these five, six, or seven hundred species, and you always see something missing somewhere, whether it's a part of a leaf, or perhaps a flower, fruit or similar.

In 2009 the Premužić Trail was protected in its entire length as cultural wealth of national significance. 

 Prepared by Slavica Štefić and Antonija Tomičić.