Maarestatunturi and Viipustunturi fells
The middle parts of the National Park are dominated by the most impressive scenery of the park: over 70 km long Lemmenjoki River surrounded with Maarestatunturi and Viipustunturi Fells. The slopes of the valley of Lemmenjoki River are covered in unique old-growth Pine (Pinus sylvestris) forests.
Rivers Kietsimäjokiand Vaskojoki runs in the northern and north-western parts of the park. The landscape has clear northern character. In the pine forests of the rivervalleys, there are plenty of typical lappish short and wide old pine trees, called 'aihki'.
Above the river valleys, the pine forests gradually give way to birch forests, and up at the rugged felltops the ground is bare. There you can see the harsh conditions of the northern climate. However, not even the highest summits are lifeless, you can spot for example the rare bird of the fells, the Rock Ptarmigan (Lagopus mutus). It is worth climbing up for the great scenery, because when the weather is good, it is possible to see over distance of tens of kilometres.
Also large mires form an essential part of the National Park's landscape. Some of them are impassable quagmires. In the southern Repokaira area, there are open aapa mires, and the northern limit of the Spruce (Picea abies) forests also crosses Repokaira. On the mires of the northern part of the park, you can see turf-covered frostmounds called 'palsa' in Finnish.
Rare plants and animals
The threatened plant species of Lemmenjoki National Park include the Arnica (Arnica angustifolia), the Marsh Saxifrage (Saxifraga hirculus), the Hudson Bay Sedge (Carex heleonastes), the Boreal Moonwort (Botrychium boreale), the Lance-Leaved Moonwort (Botrychium lanceolatum), the Oak Fern (Gymnocarpium continentale), the Stickseed (Lappula deflexa), the Meadow-rue (Thalictrum minus ssp. kemense) and the Moonwort Grape Fern (Botrychium lunaria).
Rare plants found in the area are also the Black Sedge (Carex atrata), the Moss Campion (Silene acaulis) and the Alpine Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla alpina). Rare animals can also be seen in the Park, such as Wolverines (Gulo gulo) and occasionally Wolves. (Canis lupus).
Wolverines in Lemmenjoki
Wolverines are the largest mustelids in Finland. The colours of their coats vary from dark brown to black and brown, with lighter tones on the sides and the chest. While the average weight of a female is 10 kilograms, a large male may weigh over 20 kilograms. They are 70 to 80 cm in length. The paws, which are large compared to the animal’s overall body size, make walking on snow easier.
Wolverines avoid disturbance created by humans, which makes the wildernesses of Lemmenjoki National Park ideal habitat for them.
The wolverine is a carnivore that preys on anything between voles and reindeer. The wolverine range extends across the entire northern hemisphere and as far south as the zone with snow cover in April. In Finland, wolverines live to the north of the line between Joensuu and Vaasa. Individual wolverines have been encountered close to Helsinki.
Males, in particular, may travel long distances, sometimes up to hundreds of kilometres. The most usual sign of a wolverine living in an area is its tracks in the snow. You have to be lucky to see an actual wolverine.
Wolverines do not respect national borders, and Lemmenjoki National Park shares its wolverine population with Övre Anarjohka National Park in Norway. Depending on the year and the season, five to ten wolverines may live in the park.
Females stay within smaller territories. They give birth to cubs in a nest dug under the snow in February or March, on average every second year. The cubs follow their mother until the autumn.
Weird sights - serpentinite rocks
The rare serpentine rocks, which are quite distinctive in terms of their plant life, have been named after serpentinite, a highly alkaline rock type. The serpentine rocks in the Lemmenjoki National Park stand out as dark and fragmented fields with little vegetation. However, if you happen to visit the area at the right time, you will find a sea of red and white flowers, which makes the barren rocks even more strange-looking.
The magnesium and heavy metal content of the serpentine rocks is too high for most plants. Plants and races adapted to these conditions are called serpentine species. The serpentine rocks in the remote southern and eastern parts of the Lemmenjoki National Park are brightened by serpentine alpine catchfly and serpentine races of alpine mouse-ear. In the gaps between the rocks, you may also spot the serpentine form of two-flowered sandwort, a plant with small white flowers, and green spleenwort, a small fern. Of the more common species, heather is also well adapted to these conditions.
Serpentine rocks are rare and only cover small areas and not all the locations are known. If you find an unusually looking rock, you can report your observations to Metsähallitus. All such reports are welcome.
Alpine catchfly (Lychnis alpina)
On the riverside shingles, rocks and fell heaths of the Lemmenjoki National Park, you may find the alpine catchfly, a plant with purple flowers and sticky leaves. Depending on the location, the species remains a five-centimetre dwarf or grows into a plant with a height of nearly half a metre. Serpentine alpine catchfly (Lychnis alpina var. serpentinicola), the form found on highly alkaline serpentine rocks, makes the species particularly interesting. The serpentine alpine catchfly has narrow leaves and small flowers, which are often strongly purple-coloured. It has adapted to conditions that would be too toxic for most other plants and may form extensive growths at such places.