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Bieszczady NP
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Bieszczadzki PN arrow Flora - the vascular plants

Flora - the vascular plants

The occurrence, structure and number of species in the mountain species group testifies to the “mountain character” of a given area. Within the Bieszczady National Park, 184 mountain taxa were found, including 30 alpine and 42 subalpine taxa (72 high mountain taxa altogether), 38 multizonal mountain taxa, and 74 montane taxa. In general, the mountain taxa constitute 23 % of the whole park’s flora, which is comparable with the proportion of the flora of the markedly higher Babia Góra range.

Another very interesting group is that of the alpine species. Their presence confirms that the Bieszczady summits were always free of forests, although the extend of the poloninas was probably much smaller.

Among the alpine species which occupy the highest sites among the rocky ridges of the Krzemien, Tarnica or the Bukowe Berdo summits, certain rare species should be noted, such as the narcissus-flowered anemone Anemone narcissiflora, alpine bistort Polygonum viviparum, and roseroot Rhodiola rosea, along more common species, such as shining scabious Scabiosa lucida, lower fescue Festuca airoides, Dacian sedge Carex dacica, mountain housleek Sempervivum montanum, paniculate saxifrage Saxifraga paniculata, giant catsear Hypochoeris uniflora and golden cinquefoil Potentilla aurea.

The subalpine species occupy slightly lower elevations, on the poloninas, sometimes descending even to the meadows in the valleys. This is a habitat for such species as the arnica Arnica montana, alpine leek Allium victorialis, alpine globeflower Trollius altissimus, white false helleborine Veratrum album subsp. album and the yellow wood violet Viola biflora.

From among over 110 montane and general mountain species the rarely found tozzia Tozzia alpina should be mentioned, a plant of semi-parasitic nature. Its next nearest sites to the west of the Bieszczady mountains are the only records as far as the Babia Góra mountain. A common and conspicuous plant of the poloninas, meadows, bilberry communities and shrubs is a willow-leaved gentian Gentiana asclepiadea, on the moist rocks and in gorges the three-leaved valerian Valeriana tripteris occurs, whereas the mountain currant Ribes alpinum can be found in forests and shady glades.

In the park one can encounter many species from the list of legally protected species, both among the vascular plant species e.g. gentians, orchids, or beautiful martagon lily Lilium martagon, as well as lower plants, such as the very rare lichens of Usnea genus..

More interesting, however, is the occurrence in the Bieszczady National Park of several extremely rare species, which have here their only stations in Poland. Among the Eastern Carpathians species these include the dwarf monkshood, mentioned earlier, and the Bielz’s sesleria Sesleria bielzii — recorded on 1 station and the Carpathian catchfly Silene dubia — 1 station. There are also some mountain species occurring as very small populations: alpine bistort (several specimens), alpine larkspur (dozen or so specimens), and rock sedge Carex rupestris (several dozen plants in rock crevices).

All these taxa occur in remarkable isolation from the nearest populations of the same species, sometimes in several to a couple of dozen kilometres. Thus these sites are extremely valuable to the Park and interesting from the scientific standpoint e.g. because of the evolution processes which could happen in isolated populations. For this reason these species are closely monitored, their numbers are checked, as well as the condition and possible threats – all this is meant to prevent their disappearance or destruction (Mitka 1994, Mitka, Zemanek 1996).

The forest-free summits of the Bieszczady mountains provide an excellent habitat for high-mountain plants. It is also the westernmost location in the Eastern Carpathians where the subalpine zone can be found. Going further north, such habitats in the Western Capathians can be found only at a distance, in the Beskid Sadecki mountains (mostly of anthropogenic origin), in the Pieniny mountains (on rocky walls) and in the Tatra mountains. The lack of suitable habitats in the lower ranges of the Bieszczady and Beskid Niski mountains results in many species exhibiting a gap in their distribution in the Carpathians, spanning from the Bieszczady mountains and, for example, the Pieniny or Tatra mountains. This gap is called the mid-Carpathian disjunction and represents an interesting biogeographical phenomenon, linked to changes in the climate after the most recent glaciation. This kind of disjunctive distribution regards 73 taxa, out of which 35 have their limits of distribution in the Bieszczady National Park (Jasiewicz 1965, Zemanek 1987, Zemanek and Towpasz 1995).

"Nature in the Bieszczady National Park"
T. Winnicki, B.Zemanek
BdPN Ustrzyki Dolne 2003








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