Sites of Botanical Interest in Moravia
The Bílé Karpaty Mts.
Vladimír Antonín, Jan W. Jongepier and Vít Grulich
Geology and geomorphology
Meadow management and restoration
Sites worth visiting:
Zahrady pod Hájem
The Bílé Karpaty Mts. (White Carpathians) is a mountain range in the east of southern Moravia, but the
southeasternst part of the mountains lies on Slovak territory. Before 1918, the range formed the border
between the Austrian and the Hungarian part of Austro-Hungary.
Geology and Geomorphology
The area consists predominantly of flysh deposits from the Eocene period (Lower Tertiary). It is the White Carpathian
unit, composed of alternating sandstone and claystone layers. The presence of calcareous deposits filling up the
oldest fissures is quite common. The sandstone is usually cemented by lime, and only in the central part of the
mountain range acidic sandstone cemented by silica is present. Among Quaternary covering deposits, loess and
silty loams prevail in relatively large areas. In stream and river valleys alluvial deposits are widely distributed.
Loamy to clayey slope deposits are encountered in some parts of the range with rugged terrain. In the vicinity
of springs originating from flysh layers particularly rich in lime, calcareous tufa has developed at many sites.
From the geomorphologic point of view, the western part of the Bílé Karpaty Mts. is a hilly country with
gentle, rarely steep slopes and open and shallow valleys. The central part of the mountains consists of one or
two parallel main ranges with, namely on the Slovak side, numerous side ranges projecting far from the main
range. The central and northeastern part of the Bílé Karpaty Mts. is more mountainous in character.
The border range is divided into several massifs (e.g. Žalostiná, Javořina, and Lopeník).
Landslides are a common feature on steep slopes, namely near springs, apparent by the many uneven slopes.
Rock cliffs are present only on Slovak territory. The lowest point of the area is the margin of the floodplain of the
Morava River near the village of Sudoměřice (166 m a.s.l.), the highest the summit of Mt.
Javořina (970 m a.s.l.).
The climate of the southwestern part of the Bílé Karpaty Mts. is warm and moderately humid. The mean
annual temperature near the town of Strážnice is 9.4 °C, and the mean annual precipitation here amounts
to almost 600 mm. The climate in the central and northeastern parts of the Bílé Karpaty Mts. is moderately
warm, at higher altitudes cooler, but considerably warmer than in similar altitudes in northern and western
Moravia. The village of Strání has 7,6 °C and 843 mm. The highest mountain tops have a mean annual
temperature of less than 6 °C. Precipitation here is generally higher than in other parts of southern Moravia.
The large and deep valleys, running across the main range, affect the air circulation and are the cause of a more
humid mesoclimate. Dry winds from the southeast, blowing over the range of the Bílé Karpaty Mts.,
have also a profound influence on the climate of the western foothills. Particularly in spring they cause strong
In the southwestern part of the Bílé Karpaty Mts., gleyic chernozems and gleyic phaeozems cover large
areas. These soils are heavy and dry out in summer. During periods of drought, deep and broad fissures often
develop. Gleyic phaeozem is quite often found in depressions. Cambisols and chernozems developed on
loess. Heavy, often gleyic to pellic cambisols, saturated with bases, are found at higher altitudes; unsaturated
cambisols occur only rarely. On outcrops of calcareous flysch layers, calcaric regosols exist.
The Bílé Karpaty Mts. are partly situated in the region of thermophilous flora and partly in that of
mesophilous flora, and include the colline and supracolline vegetation belts.
On convex slopes in the lower southwestern part of the area, thermophilous oak forests of the association
Potentillo albae-Quercetum (Quercion petraeae) used to prevail in the natural vegetation cover.
Perialpine thermophilous oak forests of the association Corno-Quercetum
(Quercion pubescenti-petraeae) occurred only to a limited extent. North-facing, mainly concave slopes
supported typical West-Carpathian oak-hornbeam forests of the association Carici pilosae-Carpinetum
(Carpinion), locally also with European Beech (Fagus sylvatica) in the tree layer. Pannonian
oak-hornbeam forests might have been developed only as rather small patches in contact with perialpine
thermophilous oak forests.
Alluvial forests of the Pruno-Fraxinetum type (Alnion incanae) are confined to the valleys of
streams and small rivers. Beech forests (Fagion) represent the potential natural vegetation of
the ridge and the northeastern part of the mountains. The absence of Abies alba from these forests
- except for the extreme north - is a remarkable phenomenon. Carici pilosae-Fagetum is the most
common association. At higher altitudes it is replaced by Dentario enneaphylli-Fagetum at some
places and by Luzulo-Fagetum on acidic sandstone. Steep slopes support ravine forests of the
association Aceri-Carpinetum (Tilio-Acerion). The occurrence of ash-alder forests of the association
Carici remotae-Fraxinetum (Alnion incanae) is limited to small spring areas on slopes. It is not
clear whether there existed open spaces with treeless vegetation in the otherwise forested landscape.
However, this possibility cannot be excluded as there were numerous landslides or small spring areas
on slopes, and some slopes had a steppic character until the second half of the 20th century.
The semi-natural replacement vegetation is represented by dry meadows of the association
Brachypodio-Molinietum (Bromion erecti), well known for their extraordinary species diversity.
At higher altitudes, they are replaced by communities of the alliance Cynosurion, mainly belonging
to the association Anthoxantho-Agrostietum. Meadows of the alliance Violion caninae occur
only sporadically and cover small areas. Along small rivers, such as the Olšava, vegetation of the
alliances Caricion gracilis a Oenanthion aquaticae has been recorded. The shrub communities
belong mainly to the alliance Berberidion, while dwarf shrub stands at the alliance Prunion
spinosae have almost disappeared and are only rarely encountered at the lowest altitudes. The forest
fringe vegetation of higher altitudes can be classified as the alliance Trifolion medii. Characteristic
calciphilous weed communities of the alliance Caucalidion lappulae are locally preserved on
fallow and arable land at some places in the warmer part of the region.
The flora is very rich in species, comprising different phytogeographical elements. A considerable number
of species reach the border of their distribution range or have isolated occurrences in the Bílé Karpaty
In the undergrowth of beech and oak-hornbeam forests Carex pilosa, C. pendula, Euphorbia
amygdaloides, Hacquetia epipactis, Salvia glutinosa, and Symphytum tuberosum
occur. This species group is characteristic of the herb layer of broad-leaved forests at lower altitudes of the
whole western Carpathians. Several montane species, e.g. Aconitum variegatum, Cicerbita alpina,
Geranium sylvaticum, Lunaria rediviva, and Silene dioica, occur at the highest altitudes
of the mountain massifs of Javořina and Lopeník. Abies alba and Dentaria
glandulosa reach only the northeastern part of the territory. Centaurea montana subsp. mollis
and Potentilla aurea are completely absent from the Bílé Karpaty Mts. and grow in the
Javorníky Mts. further in the east.
The contact with the Pannonian flora region is most pronounced in deforested parts at lower altitudes of the
Bílé Karpaty Mts. Here, Cornus mas, Euonymus verrucosa, Lithospermum
purpurocaeruleum, and Viburnum lantana are commonly encountered. The meadows and dry
grasslands in the southwestern part of the Bílé Karpaty Mts. support or supported numerous
xerophilous species, e.g. Astragalus danicus, Echium russicum, Iris variegata,
Linum flavum, Polygala major, Pseudolysimachion orchideum, P. spurium,
Serratula lycopifolia, and Stipa tirsa. Some of the species listed have large Continental
distribution ranges reaching far the east and exhibit no relationship to the Pannonicum.
Some species, confined to calcareous substrata in higher Central European mountain ranges, penetrate
into the Bílé Karpaty Mts. only via the Váh River valley in Slovakia; Carex alba,
C. ornithopoda, and Hippocrepis comosa belong to this group.
Danthonia alpina and Globularia punctata can be mentioned as examples of
Submediterranean species. Laserpitium latifolium, Senecio umbrosus, and Stachys
alpina are predominantly calciphilous species with distribution ranges surrounding the high
central European mountain ranges. Several plant species, such as Allium victorialis, Aposeris
foetida, Crocus albiflorus, Lathyrus pannonicus subsp. pannonicus, Pedicularis
exaltata, Potentilla micrantha, the subendemic Tephroseris longifolia subsp. moravica,
and also the now extinct Gentiana acaulis, have remarkable isolated occurrences in the Bílé
Numerous members of the orchid family are quite common in the region. The Bílé Karpaty Mts. host,
among other species, Anacamptis pyramidalis, Ophrys apifera, and O. fuciflora, which
are rare or absent elsewhere in the Czech Republic.
Heavy soils rich in nutrients support subhalophilous species, such as Carex distans,
C. hordeistichos, Lotus tenuis, and Tetragonolobus maritimus. Bupleurum
tenuissimum and Plantago maritima, belonging to the same group, disappeared some time ago.
Systematical field research into macromycetes has been organized since the second half of the 1990s both
by V. Antonín and A. Vágner (Moravian Museum in Brno) and by J.W. Jongepier (Veselí nad Moravou).
The research is focused on nature reserves. Both reserves visited belong to the more interesting ones.
For the species lists see below.
The nature of the Bílé Karpaty Mts. used to be very diverse, and the present state represent only
a fraction of the past richness. Establishing nature reserves took a long time. Some of the proposals had
to wait for 45 years to be implemented. In the meantime, many valuable habitats were partly or completely
destroyed. For instance, the most xerophilous grasslands with Stipa tirsa were devastated during
the 1960s and 1970s, so that only a few tussocks of this feather grass have survived.
The Czech Protected Landscape Area was established only in 1980, a year after the Slovak PLA was
proclaimed. The Czech PLA covers a total area of 715 km2 of land and was included
in the world network of UNESCO Biosphere Reserves in 1996. Last year, i.e. 2000, it was awarded
the European Diploma by the Council of Europe.
The total of species-rich meadow sites within the territory of the PLA Bílé Karpaty reaches 4,028 hectares
(note that the aggregate area of similar communities remaining in the entire United Kingdom is less than
5,000 hectares). A number of meadow tracts located in the southwestern part of the PLA amount to
hundreds of hectares each. The largest of these tracts are protected as nature reserves: Čertoryje
(695 ha), Jazevčí (352 ha), Kútky (113 ha), Machová (243 ha), Porážky (421 ha),
and Zahrady pod Hájem (162 ha).
Meadow management and restoration
The meadows were created or expanded by cutting the original vegetation of oak, hornbeam and beech
forests. These clearings then turned into pastures and meadows by yearly grazing and mowing. Often
a combination of cutting in summer and grazing the aftermath in autumn was applied. The grasslands
were not fertilised, except for locally applied light fertilisation in the 20th century. After World War II
the extent and diversity of the grasslands were seriously affected by intensification of agricultural practices
like ploughing up, land reclamation, re-allotment, excessive fertilisation, elimination of hedges, trees and
shrubs, and pasturing with high densities of cattle.
Some of the remaining meadows, mostly designated nature reserves, were however managed well
by collective and state farms or private landowners until socio-economic changes in the 1990s caused
farmers to sell cattle and sheep. Only subsidies from the Ministry of the Environment were able to
secure mowing of the most valuable meadows. Fortunately, later also the Ministry of Agriculture started
to support cutting and grazing with subsidies to livestock farming. Extra subsidy is provided to organic
Today the meadows are managed by landowners, tenants or, where interest in their maintenance is lacking,
also by non-governmental organisations and landtrusts. Large complexes are mown with tractors. On
uneven, sloping meadows the grass is cut with small mowers or with scythes. The biomass is mostly used
as fodder, a part is burnt or deposited elsewhere. In nature reserves in the southwest (where hay meadows
predominate) extensive pasturing is allowed only exceptionally.
In the past two decades also over two hundred hectares of meadows abandoned in the 1960s and 1970s
have been restored. These are particularly found on steep hills, in areas with rough terrain and in remote
places, where mowing with average agricultural equipment is problematic. Such sites are encroached
upon by scrub, mostly Crataegus sp., Prunus spinosa, and Rosa sp., some may
eventually turn into woodland. Restoration of these sites includes cutting scrub with chain-saws,
removing thick layers of grass, and subsequent burning of the biomass at the site, followed by regular
mowing in the years after.
Botanical monitoring has shown, that on dry sites complete restoration takes only a few years. In one
case four orchids - Anacamptis pyramidalis, Coeloglossum viride, Ophrys apifera,
and O. fuciflora - were found to appear only three years after the scrub was eliminated. On sites
overgrown by Molinia arundinacea the return to species-rich meadows takes much longer, at least
two or three decades. The burning of biomass has not shown to cause excessive ruderalisation. Bonfire
sites are soon covered by meadow grasses and forbs.
In the past years the area of species-rich meadows has been enlarged not only by restoration of abandoned
areas, but also by regrassing of arable fields. Many farmers have come to the conclusion that part of their
arable land - created by ploughing up meadows in the past - cannot be farmed cost-effectively, and are
therefore seeking to turn it into hay meadow or pasture. To fit their needs an innovative project was started
in 1993 aimed at providing farmers with seed mixtures of local provenance and finding economically viable
re-creation procedures. Mixtures consisting of a rich variety of local grass and forb species and genotypes
adapted to local conditions are believed to be able to restore the original White Carpathian meadows, in
contradiction to generally available seed mixtures (with only a few improved, productive and generally
non-indigenous genotypes of grasses and Fabaceae species).
As the first step, volunteers manually collected seed of 100 grassland species (18 grasses, 82 forbs) in
nature reserves. Each species was then cultivated in monocultures to study germination and productivity.
Over half of the species (56) could be cultivated successfully by using common seed growing technologies
and thus proved to be appropriate for application in seed mixtures.
After five different seed mixtures were tested from 1995 to 1998, and 30 species were further reproduced
by fourteen farmers in the area, it was decided to compose the first local seed mixtures for regrassing
arable land, improving cultural grassland and enriching poor commercial seed mixtures. By 1998 more
than 250 kg of seed was available, with the grass Bromus erectus and the forbs Centaurea
scabiosa and C. jacea being the chief components. A comparable amount is now produced
each year by farmers in the area and used for meadow recreation. Thus far, more than 120 ha of
arable land in the Bílé Karpaty Mts. has been turned into grassland by entirely or partially
using local seed. This year, i.e. in 2001, seed will also be harvested on species-rich meadows by a
combine harvester, because the seed production of grasses in relation to forbs has recently remained
The last stage of the project concerns the monitoring of a three hectare large arable field experimentally
regrassed in autumn 1999. This field was divided into four parts each with a different pattern of seeding.
The entire plot is mown once a year. Besides cover of individual plant species also epigeon, pollinators
and phytophagous insects are monitored. The experiment is expected to provide us with unique information
on the way grassland can be created on arable land, but also on the feasibility of different methods of
Sites worth visiting
The most famous botanical sites are situated in the southwestern part of the Bílé Karpaty Mts.
These are mainly large meadows, including a mosaic of subxeric and mesic species-rich grasslands
and sloping spring fens with solitary growing oaks. The National Nature Reserve Čertoryje is
a good example of this type of landscape. The vegetation is very rich in species: up to 100 species were
registered in one phytosociological relevé of 16 m2. In the past, these meadows were mown
once a year. This usually happened quite late, and the meadows were then grazed in the late summer
and autumn. After co-operative farms had been established, a part of the area was converted into arable
land, another part was fertilised, causing expansion of nitrophilous species on the one hand and decline
of less competitive, mainly mycorrhizal species on the other hand. Finally, parts of the meadow were
abandoned and became overgrown with scrub. Since the late 1980s, these have been managed again.
The meadows are surrounded by stands of oak-hornbeam forests of the association Carici
pilosae-Carpinetum and of thermophilous oak forests of the association Potentillo albae-Quercetum.
The meadows of the reserve are highly representative of this part of the Bílé Karpaty Mts.
Predominant and remarkable vascular plants recorded in the NNR Čertoryje
Molinia coerulea agg.
Taraxacum sp. e sect. Palustria
Remarkable macromycetes recorded in the NNR Čertoryje
More than 260 macromycetes taxa have been recorded here during the last years. Some of the less
common and rare ones are listed below.
Agaricus macrosporus (F.H. Moller et Jul. Schäff.) Pilát
The National Nature Reserve Zahrady pod Hájem includes species-rich dry meadows and
extensively managed orchards. In its vicinity, small private arable fields with a remarkable weed flora
still exist. The Administration of the PLA supported the establishment of a collection of traditional and
local fruit varieties here.
A. radicatus Vittad.
A. squamuliferus (F.H. Moller) F.H. Moller
Amanita aspera (Fr.) Gray
A. battarrae (Boud.) Bon
A. beckeri Huijsman
Armillaria cepistipes Velen.
Boletus depilatus Redeuilh
B. queletii Schulz
Ceriporia purpurea (Fr.) Donk
Chamaemyces fracidus (Fr.) Donk
Clitopilus hobsonii (Berk.) P.D. Orton
Coniophora arida (Fr.) P. Karst.
Coprinus friesii Quél.
Daleomyces phillipsii (Massee) Seaver; third locality in Moravia
Encoelia furfuracea (Roth) P. Karst.
Entoloma sinuatum (Bull.) P. Kumm.
Faerberia carbonaria (Alb. et Schwein.) Pouzar
Geastrum pectinatum Pers.
Hygrocybe ovina (Bull.) Kühner
H. psittacina (Schaeff.) Wünsche
Hygrophorus penarius Fr.
Hymenochaete tabacina (Sowerby) Lév.
Hyphodontia pilaecystidiata (Lundell) J. Erikss.; a rare fungus known
from about five localities in the Czech Republic
Hypholoma subviride (Berk. et M.A. Curtis) Dennis
Inocybe corydalina Quél.
I. jurana (Pat.) Sacc.
Junghuhnia separabilima (Pouzar) Ryvarden
Lactarius azonites (Bull.) Fr.
L. fulvissimus Romagn.
L. pterosporus Romagn.
Oligoporus subcaesius (A. David) Ryvarden et Gilb.
Phellinus punctatus (P. Karst.) Pilát
Polyporus tuberaster Jacq.
Pseudocraterellus sinuosus (Fr.) D.A. Reid
Russula viscida Kudrna
Stropharia albonitens (Fr.) P. Karst.
Tomentellopsis bresadoliana (Sacc. et Trotter) Jülich et Stalpers
Tricholoma orirubens Quél.
Tubaria dispersa (Pers.) Singer
Xenasmatella vaga (Fr.) Stalpers
Xerocomus ripariellus (Redeuilh) Redeuilh
Xylaria oxyacanthae Tulasne; probably the first record published from the Czech Republic
About 100 macromycetes species have been recorded in the reserve untill now. Some less common and
rare fungi are listed below.
Remarkable vascular plants recorded in the NNR Zahrady pod Hájem
Scilla bifolia s.l.
Remarkable macromycetes recorded in the NNR Zahrady pod Hájem
Agaricus macrocarpus (F.H. Moller) F.H. Moller
Amanita aspera (Fr.) Gray
Boletus fechtneri Velen.; species protected by law in the Czech Republic and included in the Red Data Book
Calocybe carnea (Bull.) Donk
Clavulinopsis corniculata (Schaeff.) Corner
C. helvola (Pers.) Corner
Clitopilus prunulus (Scop.) P. Kumm.
Hygrocybe psittacina (Schaeff.) Wünsche
H. quieta (Kühner) Singer
H. virginea (Wulfen) P.D. Orton et Watling
Hypholoma subviride (Berk. et M.A. Curtis) Dennis
Lactarius acerrimus Britzelm.
L. porninsis Roll.
L. sanguifluus (Paulet) Fr.
L. semisanguifluus Heim et Leclair
Nectria episphaeria (Tode) Fr.
Oligoporus subcaesius (A. David) Ryvarden et Gilb.
Psilocybe physaloides (Bull.) Quél.
Ramariopsis kunzei (Fr.) Corner
Sarcosphaera crassa (Santi) Pouzar; species proposed for inclusion in the Bern Convention Fungus List
Suillus fluryi Huijsman
Tricholoma orirubens Quél.
Tubaria dispersa (Pers.) Singer
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