Page 28. " blue gentian "
Trumpet gentian
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeTrumpet gentian - Credit: Bouba
Spring gentian
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeSpring gentian - Credit: böhringer friedrich

There are many different kinds of blue gentians, all of which belong to the plant group Gentiana.

Blue gentians which grow in the Swiss Alps include the alpine or snow gentian, the spring gentian and the trumpet gentian.

Their Latin names are Gentiana nivalis, Gentiana verna and Gentiana acaulis.

Alpine gentian
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeAlpine gentian - Credit: User: Tigerente


Page 28. " dainty yellow rock-roses "
Alpine rock rose
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeAlpine rock rose - Credit: Kurt Kalac

There are over 100 different kinds of rock rose in the plant group known as Helianthemum. Their flowers may be yellow, white or pink.

Yellow rock roses which grow in the Swiss Alps include the alpine rock rose and the common rock rose.

Their Latin names are Helianthemum Alpestre and Helianthemum nummularium.

Page 29. " It was covered with primulas which had a most delicious scent "
Mountain cowslip
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeMountain cowslip - Credit: Petr Filippov
Alpine oxlip
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeAlpine oxlip - Credit: Michael Gasperl

Primula is the name given to all sorts of primroses, cowslips and oxslips which belong to the plant group Primula.

Two types of Primula which grow in the Swiss Alps are the mountain cowslip and the alpine oxslip. Their Latin names are Primula auricula and Primula elatior.




Click here to see pictures of other Alpine flowers.


Page 29. " Hear the old hawk croaking away up there? "
Golden eagle
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeGolden eagle - Credit: Juan Lacruz

In English, hawk is the name given to various kinds of birds of prey. In the German version of Heidi, the term used is der Raubvogel which simply means bird of prey.

Birds of prey to be found in Switzerland include the golden eagle, the common buzzard, the common kestrel, the peregrine falcon and the red kite.

Page 30. " Peter took off his knapsack "

'Young Man with Knapsack' (1866)
Public Domain'Young Man with Knapsack' (1866) - Credit: Paul Gavarni
A knapsack is a bag with shoulder straps which is carried on the back, and is usually made of waterproof material.

Today, we would probably call it a rucksack or backpack.

Page 35. " he keeps them very clean and gives them salt "

Saanen goat in the Bernese Oberland
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeSaanen goat in the Bernese Oberland - Credit: Irmgard
In order to stay healthy, animals need salt (sodium chloride) in their diet just like people do. A group of animals known as ruminants has a particular liking for salt. Goats, cattle and sheep are all ruminants.

Breeds of dairy goat found in Switzerland include Toggenberg, Alpine, Saanen and Oberhasli.

Page 36. " He took hold of the cord, on which a little bell was hung round Finch's neck "

Goats and cattle which graze in the Swiss Alps wear bells around their necks. This means they are easy to find when the time comes for them to be milked.


Swiss goats wearing bells
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeSwiss goats wearing bells - Credit: Jeffrey Pang

Page 37. " The mountains are on fire, and the snow and the sky too "

The Swiss Alps are famous for their beautiful and dramatic sunsets.


Swiss sunset
Creative Commons AttributionSwiss sunset - Credit: Walt Hubis
Page 39. " 'That's called Falkniss,' he said "

 Falknis is a mountain in the Rätikon range. It lies on the border between Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

On the Swiss side, it is in the canton of Graubünden (Grisons), overlooking the part of the Rhine Valley in which Heidi is set.


View of Falknis
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeView of Falknis - Credit: Thbigliel

Google Map



Page 39. " Then she described the one covered with snow and he told her its name was Scesaplana "

Scesaplana (Schesaplana) is the highest mountain in the Rätikon range and lies to the east of Falknis.

It is on the border between the Swiss canton of Graubünden (Grisons) and the Austrian province of Vorarlberg.


Schesaplana seen from Seewis im Prättigau
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeSchesaplana seen from Seewis im Prättigau - Credit: TobiasGr

Google Map






Page 42. " She specially liked to see him make the goat's milk cheese "

France, rather than Switzerland, is most well-known for goat's milk cheese. The famous Swiss cheeses such as Emmentaler, Gruyère, Appenzeller and Vacherin are all made from cow's milk.

French goatmilk cheeses are usually soft. In Heidi, the grandfather toasts his goat cheese which suggests it is a hard cheese. If you click on this link, you can see a picture of a rare Swiss hard goatmilk cheese from the Zuri Oberland, southeast of Zurich. 



Page 46. " Meanwhile Grandfather had dragged a big sledge out of the shed "

Wooden sledge
Public DomainWooden sledge - Credit: Offenbach
Sledges (also known as sleds, sleighs or toboggans) were originally used as a practical means of travelling in the Swiss Alps. From the late 19th century onwards, however, sledging developed into a sport. The world's first sled race is said to have taken place in Davos, Switzerland in 1883.

Page 47. " In one corner another woman, old and bent, was spinning "
Drawing of girl using spindle and distaff (1880)
Public DomainDrawing of girl using a spindle (1880) - Credit: Wilibald von Schulenberg
Painting of woman using a spinning wheel
Public DomainPainting of woman using a spinning wheel (1883) - Credit: Albert Anker

Wool spinning is the process of drawing out thread from an animal fleece, such as a sheep's fleece.


Traditionally, it has been done by hand using a  spindle  or a spinning wheel. In both types of spinning, the fleece is held on a pole known as a distaff.


In the painting on the right, the distaff is particularly prominent; the spinning wheel is behind the little boy.


Spinning wheels are still used today, but the spinner usually wears the distaff on her/his wrist.







Page 48. " One of your shutters is hanging loose "

Many houses in Switzerland, both old-fashioned and modern, have window shutters. However, as may be seen from the pictures below, taken close to the period in which Heidi was written, the design of Swiss Alpine chalets was very varied.


Swiss Alpine chalets in Bernese Oberland (1890-1900)
Public DomainSwiss Alpine chalets in the Bernese Oberland (1890-1900) - Credit: U.S. Library of Congress
Swiss Alpince chalet in Bernese Oberland (1890-1900)
Public DomainSwiss Alpine chalet in the Bernese Oberland (1890-1900) - Credit: Library of Congress
Swiss Alpine chalets in Valais (1890-1910)
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeSwiss Alpine chalets in Valais (1890-1910) - Credit: Snapshots of the Past
Page 50. " new mangers for the goats "
Painting of cow eating from a manger (pre 1899)
Public DomainPainting of cow eating from a manger (pre 1899) - Credit: Giovanni Segantini (1858-1899)

A manger is a wooden, metal, or stone trough from which animals eat (especially horses and cattle). 

The word is linked to the French word mangeoire, which itself comes from the French word manger, which means to eat

The word manger will remind many people of  Jesus' birth at Bethlehem, as described in the Christian Bible:

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:7 - King James version).