Every year at the end of February, locals flock to the nearby forest and valleys to marvel at the sea of yellow winter aconites in Jena. These vibrant spring flowers cover the forest floor and are quite the sight to behold. If you want to see more than the regular attractions in Jena and love a memorable trip through nature, then this local hotspot should be on your bucketlist.
You can read the article in German here.
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What are winter actonites?
Essentially winter aconites are yellow spring flowers. They bloom from February to early March, depending on how cold the weather has been and how sheltered their location is. (They prefer shade.)
Its botanical name is eranthis hyemalis, which is a compound from Latin and Greek and translates to winterly spring flower.
By the way, the flower spreads through seeds that pop onto the ground when the rain comes.
Where can you find winter aconites?
Originally, winter aconites are native to Central Europe all the way up to Turkey. But by now they have spread as far as West Europe and even North America.
You can find them easily in German gardens as they’ve become rather popular thanks to their colourful appearance and easy care. However, it’s not an entirely new trend as even in the 16th century the little flowers were traded and planted in flower beds as cool exotic souvenirs.
This year I too planted the flowers on my balcony. I really do love them!
Note: The plants are poisonous and should be kept away from animals and small children.
Rautal in Jena
The absolute best place to see the Jena winter aconites (known as “Winterlinge” in German) is in the Rautal, which is right by the city borders in the North.
It’s an uber popular place for locals to flock to on weekends in late February and early March as the yellow flowers have taken up so much space of the forest floor, they count over 1.6 million in number by now. They are growing each year. Who knows how many there’ll be in 50 years?
The area is a protected nature reserve so you cannot leave the path, walk dogs among the fields or pick flowers. Just admire them. They grow up to the paths and you will hardly miss them. It’s truly a sight to behold.
You can drive up to the village of Closewitz and park by the fields. There will most likely be people headed into the forest whom you can follow. Also, there are path signs. You really can’t miss it. But here are the coordinates for you, just in case. (And for more detailed hiking tips to get there on foot, read up my guide on the Rautal winter aconite hike.)
- Geotag: 50°57’36.9″N 11°34’54.8″E
- Bus stop: Closewitz
Winterlinge in Ammerbach
Another field of winter aconites in Jena is also close to the outskirts, in the district of Ammerbach. Right before you enter the village of Ammerbach, at the sign, you can already see an entire yellow carpet next to the stream of the same name as the village.
It’s about 15 metres long and therefore by far not as big as in the Rautal valley but still pretty. And if you drive onwards you can go hiking at the foot of the mountain Lämmerberg, where you can spot wild orchids a month later.
Die Winterlinge liegen zwar direkt vor dem Ortsschild von Ammerbach, aber gehören praktisch noch zum Stadtteil Ammerbach. (War auch etwas verwirrt.)
- Geotag: 50°54’18.7″N 11°33’53.5″E
- Bus stop: Ammerbacher Straße
Winterlinge in Jena-Drackendorf
In the pretty little Goethe Park you can find winter aconites blooming sparsely in the flower beds and alongside the stream around the trees.
The park itself can be found in the village of Drackendorf, behind the grounds of the university hospital. Locals love to take a stroll around these parts on sunny days.
And a month later, you can see fields of cherry trees blooming at the foot of the mountain Lobdeburg, which is home to the Lobdeburg Castle. All of these are worth a visit as well.
The park itself is pretty small and resembles the English garden style. Most significant is the colourful and detailed Roman gazebo, where little concerts are occasionally hosted.
I also advise taking a little look at the church and going through the gates here if you enjoy cemeteries. From here, you can take the trail up to the mountain or back across the fields too.
- Geotag: 50°53’15.3″N 11°37’36.8″E
- Address: Am Goethepark, 07751 Jena, Germany
Damenviertel and Botanical Garden
One of the prettiest districts in the city of Jena is the Damenviertel (which translates to Lady Quarters). Imagine luxurious house facades in pretty pastels with delicate ornaments harking back to the the late 1800s with their Art Deco style.
Plus, there’s a pretty little manor inside a park next to the Planetarium, which is the world’s first and definitely should be visited if you’re here for the first time.
Next to it you can find the botanical garden. After paying a small entrance fee you can freely roam the grounds of Germany’s second oldest botanical garden to see plants from all over the world and the giant exotic water lilies from the Amazon.
But if you’re here to see more winter aconites, you can find some behind the glass houses, close to the planetarium and around the flower beds.
- Geotag: 50°55’54.0″N 11°35’09.0″E
- Address: Botanischer Garten, Fürstengraben 26, 07743 Jena, Germany
More travel tips for Central Germany
- What to do in Jena depending on what month you come
- Why 25 Weimar should be on your bucketlist
- The best trails for 3 days in the Vogtland region
- The creepy art garden in Plinz
- Enjoying the moors in Bad Klosterlausnitz
- Check out the free park landscape of the Baroque Castle Mosldorf
- How to enjoy winter in the state of Thuringia
- Where to eat the best local food in Erfurt