The alvar, with its thin covering of soil, combined with many years of grazing and a mild climate, has created a special habitat for the plants that grow here. This special type of environment is found only in a handful of sites around the world. In Sweden, aside from Kinnekulle, it is also found at Falbygden and on Öland and Gotland. In spring, early purple orchids grow in large numbers on the heath near the church. The plants that grow in the thin soil layer are generally small and remain low to the ground, such as Breckland thyme and various species of stonecrop. You may also find the rare Arenaria gothica, which has tiny white flowers and only grows here and on the island of Gotland. The reserve also includes some broadleaf woodland and marsh.
The purpose of the nature reserve is to preserve this distinctive habitat. The site is primarily managed by annual grazing and clearing if necessary. The lowest layer of the Middle Ordovician limestone, the underlying red limestone that Österplana heath and grassland stand on, forms a distinct red limestone cleft that runs all the way around Kinnekulle. This cleft forms the boundary of the reserve to the east, with beautiful waterfalls and steep rocky slopes.