Gungolding Moorland (Gungoldinger Wacholderheide)
Countless files of small junipers mainly in form of bushes alternated with columniform plants: this is the peculiarity that makes the Gungolding moorland a very unique place. Besides the great amount of junipers "livened up" by wild roses, blackthorns and hawthorns, an extraordinary steppe moorland could settle on rocks and rocky areas.
The Gungoldinger moorland came into being in the Middle Ages because of wood tillage and cattle grazing. Then plant species typical of arid meadows could spread on this area. Here you can find splendid clusters of tunic flowers, the very rare spiky minuartia and the garland flower, which is also extremely rare, as well as three kinds of gentian: the spring gentian, the fringen gentian and the chiltern gentian. Sheep "take care" constantly of these plants’ precious habitats made by the hand of man as they prevent bushes and woods to regain moorland areas by cropping.
The Gungolding moorland is considered the most beautiful of the southern Franconia Alb plateau, even if many junipers were cut some decades ago for obtaining material for multiple usages. In the past, the fragrant substance obtained from juniper branches was used both for smoking hams and sausages and as a defence against illness, plague and malign forces both in houses and courtyards. According to popular beliefs, whip handles made of juniper wood should protect horses from witchcraft, while sticks of the same material used for producing butter should prevent that the malefic influence of the woman who lived next door could hinder a successful production process. Today junipers are protected and it is only allowed to collect their black bluish berries. They ripen on female shrubs within two years and have a wide variety of applications: for instance, they are used as a very popular spice for cooking sauerkrauts, game and fish, and are the main ingredient of juniper spirit. They also are a good remedy for liver, renal and bladder diseases as well as for rheumatisms and gout, which was recommended already by Sebastian Kneipp.
This 70 ha nature reserve is located on the northern slope of the Altmühl valley near Gungolding.