Included here is the eastern edge of the Central Massif, the western edge of the Lorraine Plateau and the Massif of the Ardennes, the eastern shores of the Jutland Peninsula and southeastern shores of Norway. Its northern limit extends to the northern shores of the Gulf of Finland, the western shores of the Karelian Isthmus, and the entire western shore of Estonia.  Further on, the border moves south to the west of Riga, cuts through Latvia, passes south of Vilnius, turns towards the Belovezh Forest and west to Lvov. It then passes south of the Dniester River and proceeds along the Prut River to the lower Danube Lowlands.

Central European Beech Woodlands

Beech (Fagus sylvatica) woods form the natural climax over much of Central Europe where the soils are relatively dry and can extend well into the uplands in the more southern zones. In the north, however, around Sweden it is confined to the lowlands. Beech woodlands are often open with a poorly developed shrub layer, Characteristic ground layer species may include various helleborines such as Cephalanthera damasonium, C. longifolia and C. rubra and sedges such as Carex alba, whilst in others, grasses like Sesleria caerlea or Melica uniflora may predominate, but in some of the more acidic examples, Luzula luzuloides is likely to dominate. There are also a number of endemic ground layer species. For example, in Carpathian beech woods endemics such as Dentaria glandulosa (Brassicaceae), Symphytum cordata (Boraginaceae) and the fern Polystichum braunii (Dryopteridaceae) may be encountered. 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).

Central European Hornbeam-Oak Woodlands

Dominated by Carpinus betulus (hornbeam) and oak (either Quercus petraea or Q. robur) these woods tend to occur on the more acidic soils, although on very acidic soils oak often becomes dominant. The shrub layer is usually well developed and may include Euonymus verrucosa, Ligustrum vulgare, Rhamnus cathartica, Crataegus monogyna, Cornus mas, Ribes rubrum, Rubus caesius, Sambucus nigra, Sorbus torminalis and Staphylea pinnata, while typical ground layer species may include Campanula rapunculoides, Carex michelii, Dentaria bulbifera, Euphorbia amygdaloides, Fragaria moschata, Galium sylvaticum, Hacquetia epipactis, Hepatica nobilis, Impatiens noli-tangere, Lithospermum purpurocaeruleum, Melittis melissophyllum, Primula veris, Stellaria holostea, Viola mirabilis and so on. However, these woodlands can be divided into a number of different associations. In the Czech Republic, for example, several different types have been recognized depending on location. These have been described as Hercynian oak-hornbean woodlands (including three associations characterised by 1. Melampyrum pratensis, 2. Stellaria holostea and3. Tilia cordata and Betula pubescens), Pannonian oak-hornbeam woodlands (including one association characterised by Primula veris), Carpathian oak-hornbeam woodlands (including one association characterised by Carex pilosa) and Polonian oak-hornbeam woodlands (including one association characterised by Tilia cordata). Oak-hornbean forest also represents the most extensive forest type in the famous, primeval Bialowieza Forest of Poland and Belurus. However, because of the relatively high protortion of Tilia cordata these forests can be described under the subtype Tilia cordata – Carpinus betulus (Tilio-Carpinetum) alliance. This magical, multilayered forest typically has an upper canopy dominated by Picea abies, Quercus robur and Tilia cordata often accompanied by Acer platanoides. A second tree layer usually comprises Carpinus betulus and Tilia cordata. Canopy cover in summer can reach levels of up to 90%. The reduced sub-canopy light levels prevent much shrub layer development, but it may include Corylus avellana, Daphne mezereum, Euonymus europaea and E. verrucosa. The herb layer, on the other hand, is often exceptionally well developed and can often be differentiated in to two or three sub layers. Both its vertical and horizontal composition shows marked seasonal variation. In spring the flora is dominated by spring geophytes including Allium ursinum, Anemone nemerosa, A. ranunculoides, Corydalis cava, C. solida, Gagea lutea, G. minima, G. spathacea, Isopyrum thalictroides and Ranunculus ficaria. Among the most constant herb layer components are Asarum europaeum, Carex digitata, Galium odoratum, Hepatica nobilis, Lamiastrum galeobdolon, Milium effusum, Oxalis acetosella, Pulmonaria obscura, Ranunculus lanuginosus, Stellaria holostea and Viola reichenbachiana. Common deciduous plants are Aegopodium podagraria, Dentaria bulbifera, Equisetum pratense and Lathyrus vernus.

Central European 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). They can be found in the eastern Alps forexample. 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.


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