National Park Centre

Discover secrets in the National Park Centre's exhibition

Test what rocking in the treetops feels like. Meet gigantic tiny animals. Watch the wild cat go hunting. Be surprised at all the exciting things the national park has got in store.

The National Park Centre Thiemsburg offers all of the national park's treasures to its visitors: in films, on huge picture walls, with hands-on learning objects and interactive elements – all of which are waiting to be discovered on your own or with a guide.

Children find a lot to do in the exhibition. They can play, experiment, make and discover things. And when they get a little bit tired, they can listen to stories in a cosy corner.

You can buy tickets for the Canopy Walk and regional products in the foyer of the National Park Centre, which is wheelchair-accessible. There is also a national park ranger at hand who has got plenty of information material and who is happy to answer your questions and give tipps on the national park and the world heritage region.

What a Bizarre Underworld

Most visitors don't know much about the goings-on in the underworld of the national park. Go and marvel at the small and big miracles of decay, whimsical creepy-crawlies and nail-biting predator-prey encounters in the "Wurzelhöhle" (root den) in the National Park Centre.

25 million leaves fall onto each hectare of the forest floor of the national park every year. Where do they all disappear to? Surely they should be piling up year after year! But no, an army of hundreds of thousands busy little insects, worms and woodlice take care of the forest's organic waste. Every animal has a specific task in this process: shredding, eating, converting material, making leaf pulp. At the end of the cycle, the pretty green beech leaves from the summer will have been turned into nutrient-rich humus, which can then be re-used by the ecosystem.

But that is not all – who could have guessed that plants communicate with one another, above and below ground! Above ground, trees warn each other via volatile organic compounds, so-called green-leaf volatiles, of insect damage and store repellents in the leaves in order to spoil the parasites' meal. Elm trees even use green-leaf volatiles to target and attract predatory insects, who in turn kill the attacking leaf eaters. The saliva exposed the attacking species and the anti-volatile is tailor-made for it. Also, when the roots of neighbouring plants touch, they are not only used for water and nutrient uptake, but also for alert eavesdropping. For example, information on impending draughts are passed up and on via chemical substances in order to arrange the required precautionary measures.

The roots of the beeches in Hainich also play host to a very useful partnership, a symbiosis that has advantages for both parties. The partner is mycorrhizal mycelium, which connect to the fine ends of the roots. That means one partner is fully dependent on the other and yet it is a win-win situation for both: The fungus helps the tree not only with its uptake of water and nutrients, it also repels germs or even secretes substances that are poisonous to herbivores. In return, the tree provides the fungus with products of photosynthesis, which, being a fungus, it cannot produce itself.

Opening hours

1 April to 31 Oktober
open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

1 November to 31 March
open every day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
(closed on 24 December and 31 December)

1 January bis 28 February
closed


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National Park Centre Thiemsburg
Information centres
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Tourist Information Bad Langensalza

+49 3603/834424 www.baumkronen-pfad.de