karstic scrubland

Karstic scrubland is the most widespread habitat on the karst plateau.
It became rapidly established in the years since the Second World War with the abandonment of grazing.
This vegetation is the product of the degradation of the ancient karst forest, which must have been made up mainly of Sessile and Turkey Oaks (Quercus petraea and Q. cerris) and cedars, of which, at present, there are some specimens in the inner Karst (Poldini et al., 1980).
Its composition reflects the geological and environmental features found in much of the karst area where the soil layer is reduced and the permeability of the bedrock are some of the factors that determine the development of a sparse tree cover, characterized largely by specimens behaving more like tall shrubs rather than trees, with little standing stock per hectare.
The tree layer is, in fact, represented by rather short specimens with narrow trunks. Illyrian species are especially dominant including the Hop Hornbeam (Ostrya carpinifolia), Flowering or Manna Ash (Fraxinus ornus), Field Maple (Acer campestre) and the Montpellier Maple (A. monspessulanum).
The shrub layer, influenced by the significant penetration of light, is made up of species such as Cornelian Cherry (Cornus mas), St, Lucy’s Cherry (Prunus mahaleb) and Smoke-bush (Cotinus coggygria).
The reduced tree density that characterizes the karstic scrubland, allows the a rich herbaceous layer to develop dominated by the Autumn Moor Grass (Sesleria autumnalis) but there are also showy species such as Wild Peony (Paeonia officinalis) and False Dittany (Dictamnus albus).

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