The spiral(Pinus uncinata) is often referred to as an upright-growing mountain pine. Mountain p ine(Pinus mugo) and spurge cannot be clearly distinguished from each other. Thus, the Spirke is not always described as a separate species, but is usually considered a subspecies(Pinus mugo uncinata) of the Latsche.
The spirke is a medium-sized tree and colonizes the same habitats as the much more common pine(Pinus sylvestris). Its dark trunk makes it easy to distinguish from the red-stemmed pine. It can tolerate debris overgrowth of the trunk very well and therefore, as a low-competition species, it colonizes sites with extreme conditions (low nutrients, low water, extreme drought, high light, etc.), such as debris piles and rocky outcrops.
In the Lechtal Alps the Spirken are a special treasure. The valuable Spirken forests, which are unrivaled on rubble and rocky sites and also unique in their aesthetic appearance, are the most abundant and richly endowed of all Austrian remnant occurrences here (SCHIECHTL et al. 1993).
In Austria, Spirkenwälder occur only in Tyrol and Vorarlberg. In Northern Tyrol, the spiral forests are a rarity, which are characterized by a special species richness and fulfill a high protective function, as they consolidate unstable scree slopes and prepare the soil for future forest communities. Spirken forests on gypsiferous and calcareous soils enjoy a special protection status throughout Europe and belong to the international Natura 2000 network.