Included here is northern Greece (including the Pindos Mountains), parts of Albania, Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia (including the Karawanken and Julian Alps).

Balkan Montane Forest

Above about 1000 m beech Fagus sylvatica forests often predominate, but beyond 1500 m up to about 1800 m various conifer communities form the main forest types. However, in some cases conifer and beech communities merge and both reach the tree line. The most important associates of beech include Acer platanoides, Betula verrucosa, Corylus colurna, Picea abies, Pyrus aucuparia and Ulmus scabra, while the shrub layer often consists of Alnus viridis, Euonymous latifolius, Pinus montana and Ruscus hypoglossum. The ground layer is not usually well developed and many of the herbaceous species are of central European distribution including Arabis turrita, Asperula muscosa, Cardamine bulbifera, Limodorum abortivum, Orthilia seconda and Saxifraga rotundifolia.

Of the conifer forests, Pinus nigra (black pine) often forms the dominant species particularly in Bulgaria, Serbia and in the Rhodope massif. Associated trees may include Taxus buccata and the endemic Abies bovisii-regis (Macedonian fir), while the shrub layer typically includes Daphne blagayana, Erica carnea and the endemic Bruckenthalia spiculifolia (Ericaceae). In some areas there is a conifer forest above the black pine zone from about 1300 m to 2400 m in which the endemic Pinus heldreichii (Bosnian pine) predominates. It is often rather open possibly as a consequence of repeated fires. However, the flora of this zone is often of great botanical interest with many Balkan endemics such as Asperula aristata subsp. thessala (Rubiaceae), Campanula oreadum and Edraianthus grammifolius (Campanulaceae), Cerastium banaticum (Caryophyllaceae), Gentiana verna subsp. pontica (Gentianaceae), Globularia albanica (Globulariaceae), Marrubium thessalum, Sideritis scardica and Teucrium montanum (Lamiaceae) and Viola delphinantha (Violaceae).

Montane conifer forest dominated by the endemic Picea omorika (Omorika spruce) is much more restricted being confined to the central and upper parts of the Drina Basin in western Serbia and eastern Bosnia. Picea omorika is a typical Tertiary relict species of the Balkans.  The undergrowth is not normally very well developed but may include Lonicera alpigena, Rhus cotinus and Spiraea cana. Fir forests are is also very local with the main species being either Abies alba or the endemic Abies cephalonica in the south.  Abies alba forms almost pure stands in the area around Camkorija. Here they are often festooned with lichens, but the ground flora is often poor in vascular plants consisting mainly of mosses and liverworts. However, in some of the wetter areas endemics such as Cirsium appendiculatum (Asteraceae), Buphthalmum speciosum and Ranunculus serbicus (Ranunculaceae) occur. Abies cephalonica is confined to the Pindus Mountains where it can be found growing with other local endemic conifers such as Abies borisii, Pinus heldreichii and P. peuce (Pinaceae). Among the more notable relict endemic species also found here are Jankaea heldreichii and Ramonda nataliae (Gesneriaceae), Macrotomia densiflora (Boraginaceae) and Primula kitaibeliana (Primulaceae).


Horvat, I, Glavac, V & Ellenberg, H. 1974. Vegetation of Southeast Europe. Gustav Fischer Verlag. Stuttgart.

Polunin, O. 1980. Flowers of Greece and the Balkans. Oxford University Press.

Turrill, W. B. 1929. The Plant life of the Balkan Peninsula - a phytogeographical study. Oxford.

Webb, D. A. 1966. The Flora of European Turkey. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, 6: 1-100.