dry karstic grassland

The dry open grassland, called landa carsica, or gmajna, is a botanical association of zoogenic origin, meaning that it is created by the pressure coming from the grazing, by sheep and goats in particular, being exerted on the surfaces subject to deforestation for centuries. Its creation seems to have already started by the Bronze Age (between 5,500 and 3,200 years ago) and was associated with the rise of pastoralism in the karst.

This grazing action led to the formation of a vegetation capable of supporting trampling and grazing by animals, forming a low discontinuous turf and interspersed by emergent rocks and set in primitive shallow soils.

Formerly the dry grasslands extended over large areas but at present, given that grazing is not a very widespread practice, we are witnessing a contraction caused by the natural process of vegetational succession.

In these arid grasslands are numerous endemic species such as Potentilla tommasiniana or the spring gentian Gentiana primaticcia, but the basic elements that make up the landa habitat are the Rock Knapweed Centaurea rupestris and the Dwarf Sedge Carex humilis, all species that can survive the arid conditions and the low soil fertility.

The flowering of dry grassland takes place between March and August. Over this time period the observer can witness a wide variety of colours expressed by some of the most beautiful flower species of the Karst from the yellow Illyrian Potentilla tommasiniana and Centaurea rupestris to the purple of the Crested Knapweed Centaurea cristata and the Illyrian Iris Iris illyrica, the deep blue of of the Trieste Gentian Gentiana tergestina. Other species found on the landa include Jurinea mollis, the endemic Goldendrop Onosma javorkae and the Mountain Pasque-flower Pulsatilla montana. The turf is dominated by Dwarf Sedge, together with Steppe Grass Stipa eriocaulis (Fairy Flax).

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