Alpine Beech Forest

Fine examples of primeaval beech woods can be found in the limestone Alps of lower Austria including the famous ‘Rothwald’ on the southeastern slopes of Dürrentein near Lunz. These range in altitude from about 940-1480 m. Here the canopy is dominated by Fagus sylvatica together with Acer pseudoplatanus, Picea abies, Ulmus glabra, and on the more acidic soils by Abies alba. Typical shrubs include Daphne mezereum, Lonicera alpigena and Rubus hirtus. At ground level the herb layer is very rich supporting possibly up to a 100 species of vascular plants. Examples include Adenostyles alliariae, Asplenium viridis, Campanula scheuchzeri, Cardamine trifolia, Cicerbita alpina, Denteria enneaphyllos, Euphorbia amygdaloides, Galium austriacum, Homogyne alpina, Lycopodium annotinum, Mycelis muralis, Paris quadrifolia, Phyteuma spicata, Prenanthes purpurea, Senecio fuchsii, Valeriana tripteris, Veratrum album and the central European endemic Helliborus niger (Ranunculaceae).

Alpine Pinus nigra (black pine) Forest

These forests in Central Europe are confined to the dry dolomitic soils of Austria where black pine is represented by the near endemic Pinus nigra subsp. nigra (Austrian pine). The shrub layer typically includes Amelanchier ovalis, Cotoneaster integerrimus, C. nebrodensis and Sorbus aria, while characteristic field layer species include Biscutella laevigata, Daphne cneorum, Erica herbacea, Globularia cordifolia, Polygala chamaebuxus, Sesleria albicans and the Austran endemic Callianthemum anemonoides (Ranunculaceae). The pine trees may be parasitized by the unusual endemic or near endemic mistletoe Viscum album subsp. austriacum, which usually has yellow rather than white berries.


Casazza, G., Zappa, E., Mariotti, M. G., Médail, F. & Minuto, L. 2007. Ecological and historical factors affecting distribution pattern and richness of endemic plant species: the case of the Maritime and Ligurian Alps hotspot. Diversity and Distribution, 2007: 1-12.

Coldea, G., Stoica, I-A., Puscas, M., Ursa, T. & Oprea, A. 2009. Alpine-sub alpine species richness of the Romanian Carpathians and the current conservation status of are species. Biodiversity and Conservation, 18: 1441-1458.

Ellenberg, H. 1988. Vegetation Ecology of Central Europe. Cambridge University Press.

Favarger, C. 1972. Endemism in the montane floras of Europe. In: Taxonomy, Phytogeography and Evolution. Ed. D. H. Valentine. Academic Press.

Kozlowski, G., Bürcher, S., Fleury, M. & Huber, F. 2009. The Atlantic elements in the Swiss flora: distribution, diversity, and conservation status. Biodiversity and Conservation, 18: 649-662.

Nimis, P. L. & Fonda, G. 1997. Phytogeography of parasteppic vegetation in the high Friulian Plain (NE Italy). Plant Ecology, 132: 15-28.

Ozenda, P. 1983. The vegetation of the Alps. Council of Europe, Strasbourg.

Polunin, O. & Walters, M. 1985. A guide to the vegetation of Britain and Europe. Oxford University Press.

Schnittler, M. & Gunther, K. F. 1999. Central European vascular plants requiring priority conservation measures – an analysis from national Red Lists and distribution maps. Biodiversity and Conservation, 8: 891-925.

Tribsch, A. 2004. Areas of endemism of vascular plants in the Eastern Alps in relation to Pleistocene glaciation. Journal of Biogeography, 31: 747-760.

Tribsch, A. & Schonswetter, P. 2003. Patterns of endemism and comparative phylogeography confirm palaeo-environmental evidence for Pleistocene refugia in the Eastern Alps. Taxon, 52: 477-497.