Hortobágy National Park Directorate
Flora

Flora

Flora of the Hortobágy by biotopes

 

Floodplains

Once floodplain forests and marshy areas of dead arms in a wide strip stretched along the River Tisza. The most beautiful patches of gallery forests remained at the floodplain of Tiszacsege, which is regularly flooded, however it can dry out by the end of summer.

Near to the water, strip of willow shrub community can be found, followed by the willow-birch tree (Salicetum albae-fragilis) groves. Under the closed canopy level of old trees, impenetrable bushy shrub grows and the trees are overgrown by very dense epiphytes, like DewberryHedge BindweedHopVirginia creeper, Echinocystis lobatus. In the grass-level the white-floweredSummer Snowflake grows in large number in certain places.

On the higher levels of the floodplain there are patches of hard-wooded Oak-Ash-Elm (Fraxino pannonincae-Ulmetum) forests. The rich foliage level of this community is formed by the specimens of Common Oak Pedunculate OakHungarian Narrow-leaved AshSmooth-leaved Elmand Fluttery Elm, Silver Poplar White PoplarBlack Poplar, and Grey PoplarTatarian Maple, while in the shrub-level Common HawthornMidland HawthornRed DogwoodAlder Buckthorn,Common Buckthorn can be found.

Meadows and hayfields surrounded by forests give us a spectacular scenery all year round. In spring and early summer, flowers of the Common Comfrey, species of Loosestrife family Purple Loosestrife and the other sister species, Lythrum salicaria, Yellow Iris and Hungarian Horse-radishBlue Clematis while at the end of summer Tansy (Chrysanthemum serotinum) bloom.

Dead arms, marshes and lakes

In the rich floating aquatic weed vegetation one can find the Floating Fern and the Water Chestnut in large number, which are rare all over Europe. The yellow-flowered insectivorous plant the Greater Bladderwort is also characteristic here, as well as the white Water-crowfoot (Batrachium sp.) species, Common Duckweed, the Water SoldierFrogbitFloating HeartWhite Water-Lily.

The vegetation of the fishponds, is similar to open water habitats of marshes surrounded by reed-belts, so their flora and fauna is actually the same. In addition to the species of marshes, the protected rarity the Waterclover belonging to the class Pteropsida must be mentioned. Once regular natural flooding has been supplemented by the habitat preserving and reconstruction work of the Hortobágy National Park.

In the green high walls of reeds mixed with Lesser Bulrush and Cattail Maritime Bulrush, separated sharply from the open waters, the yellow flowers of Yellow Iris and the pink flowers ofFlowering Rush flourish. The Common Water PlantainBranched Bur-reed are frequent species, but the Arrowhead became quite rare. At the muddy shorelines the sharp-leaved Maritime Bulrush can be seen. The reeds often without forming tussocks turn into marshy meadows on the shallow watered plains. The dominant species of marshy meadows are the name giving Spike-rushes Common Spike-rush, the Agrostis stolonifera and tussocks of Marsh Foxtail can be found here. The characteristic species are the several yellow Buttercup species (Ranunculus pedatus), the Mint species Pennyroyal and a Dock species Rumex stenophyllus. The flowers of different plants like the purple Loosestrife species (Lythrum virgatum), the Yellow Loosestrife the red-flowered Common Comfrey or the blueish purple Pannonian Sea Aster determine the colour of seasons. The communities of Agrostis stolonifera indicate a medium alkaline conditions, while the Beckmannia eruciformis indicate a more alkaline soil. In other places Hungarian Sea-Lavender an Aster species Aster sedifolius ssp. sedifolius, Saltmarsh-grass and Maritime WormwoodSagebrush Wormwood are frequent as well. Marshy meadows are surrounded by alkaline meadows on higher and drier surfaces, dominated by Meadow Foxtail and characterized by the following dicotyledonous species: Creeping Yellow-cress, Buttercup species (Ranunculus sp.), the Mint species (Mentha sp.), Aster (Aster sedifolius ssp. sedifolius), Hungarian Sea-Lavender , the small Clover species (Trifolium sp.), however, plants from marshy meadows can also be found here. The alkaline meadows form the transition towards the dry grasslands.

Alkaline grasslands

The most characteristic landscape of Hortobágy is the continuous grassland. During the water regulation the alkaline grasslands have been extended to such extent that the landscape nowadays mainly determined by the alkaline "puszta". That is, the anthropogen impact has influenced the extension of the alkaline grasslands not the species composition. This community is not the climax association of this succession row, but a permanent edafic community, which is a stagnant phase.

Due to the soil conditions, the vegetation is mosaic like. Higher and drier levels are covered by Achilleo-Festucetum pseudovinae, where characteristic species of loess grasslands and of typical alkaline grasslands are mixed. The yellow-flowered Viper's grass, the Sneezwort (Achillea setacea), the Dwarf Clover species (Trifolium sp.) are characteristic, and some typical halophytic plants: Hungarian Sea-Lavender, Sea Plantain, one of the Mouse-ear species (Cerastium dubium), and Buttercup species (Ranunculus pedatus), as well as representatives of meadow species: Common Bird's-foot-trefoil, Inulas (Inula britannica), Wormwood species (Artemisia pontica) can be found here.

Dominating grass species is the False Sheep's Fescue. Its typical change in colour, decorates the grassland.

Where the soil has a high concentration of NaCl Artemisio-Festucetum pseudovinae is dominant with Maritime Wormwood Sagebrush Wormwood, mixed with the following species: the more halophyte Annual GypsophilaViper's grassSea Plantain, purple flowered Pannonian Sea Aster, and the Hungarian Sea-Lavender. Scented Mayweed, being an important medicinal herb, blooms during the spring covering the bare patches.

At the bottom of small surface erosions forms of water movements so called "blind szik" can be localised. The bare soil surface is as alkaline as seashores or deserts. Only a few plant species were able to adopt to the extremely hard conditions characterised by low water level. The tall Couch species (Agropyron elongatum) neutralizes the toxic salts in its cells. The Camphorfume (Camphorosma annua) and the Lesser Sea-spurrey store the necessary water in their succulent leaves, while the hairy leaves of the Kochia (Kochia prostrata) and the scale-like leaves of a Glasswort (Salicornia europea) are destined for restraining the evaporation. On alkaline grasslands where sodium carbonate and chloride are in high concentration besides the Maritime Wormwood Sagebrush Wormwood, Hungarian Sea-Lavender, Sea PlantainAnnual Sea-blite andTransylvanian Plantain (Zám, Nagyiván, Borzas, Ágota) grow. On grasslands with sulphate Maritime Wormwood Sagebrush WormwoodAnnual GypsophilaViper's grassSea Plantain live. The vegetation of alkaline streams are formed by Pholiuro-Plantaginteum association. On the so-called "blind szik" due to the erosion and accumulation of muddy surface the Puccinellietum limosae evolved, which forms a transition from the blind szik to the alkaline meadows. TheMeadow Foxtail and species of Sedges and Rushes refer to the former one. Since these areas are covered with shallow water regularly in spring for quite a long time, in the warm, anoxic water the Cyanophyte (Nostoc sp.) can grow rapidly. After the quick algae bloom - due to the high evaporation on the surface one can see the ash-like remains of dead algae.

Loess grasslands

The loess grasslands communities reached the Carpathian basin from East during the post-glacial "hazel-nut" period, later the Tatarian Maple - Oak communities evolved. These rich lands are cultivated long time ago, that is why only few patches remained, mainly on elevated areas and on burial mounds. The most valuable remains of loess grasslands can be fund in Zám-puszta and in the North-Hortobágy. The dominant species are the Fescue species, but species of Clary (Salvia austriaca, Salvia nemorosa) PhlomisHungarian Pink and the Purple Mullein can also be seen here, as well as species indicating high Nitrogen content, like the a White Horehound, theCommon Nettle, the Welted Thistle. The Hair-grassCypress SpurgeTree-mallowDuke of Argyll's Teaplant are also characteristic here.

One of the most important loess-plant species on the burial mounds are the Couch sp. (Agropyron pectinatum) originated from cold steppe and the Hair-like Feather-grass.

Forests

The forests near Ohat and Újszentmargita are typical alkaline oak steppe-forests (Galatello-Quercetum roboris). The higher canopy level is formed by mainly Common Oak Pedunculate Oak, mixed with Turkey Oak and White-haired Oak. The presence of Hungarian narrow-leaved Ash and Fluttering Elm Fluttery Elm indicate the connection with the hard-wooded groves. In the lower canopy layer Tatarian Maple and Field Maple and Field Elm Smooth-leaved Elm are dominant. The shrub layers are also very rich, there are lots of Dog-berry Red Dogwood and Common Privet. Concerning the undergrowth layer there are two types of the forests. Parts of the forests similar to groves are rich in early blooming bulbous (geophyton) species, e.g. Lesser Celandine, Corydalis Bulbous Corydalis and Alpine Squill. Common species with the groves are the wide-leaved Solomon's-seal, the Angular Solomon's-sealFalse Brome and Giant Fescue. Under the open canopy layer of oak steppe-forests-like association several wooded-steppe species preferring light, e.g. the Hungarian Leopard's-bane and Swallow-wort flourish. At the edge Melickspecies Melick+ and Butterfly Iris are characteristic.

The stands of alkaline oak steppe-forests (Galatello-Quercetum roboris) are diversified with large clearings and reed beds in certain places. Due to the permanent water cover decay of oak occur in some patches. The decaying oak forests are replaced by reed beds, which might dry out its habitat because of the high evaporation. At areas with more equalised water regime an umbelliferous Filipendulo-Geranietum palustris association, an alkaline meadow rich in meadow and steppe species come into existence. The dominating species is the Hog's Fennel. In the undergrowth yellow- and purple-flowered composites flourish, the Aster (Aster sedifolius ssp. sedifolius) occur in large number, and in the drier patches Goldilocks Aster forms smaller groups. The alkaline steppe character is shown by the Hungarian Sea-Lavender and many Wormwood species (Artemisia pontica), forming purple carpet, while the Meadow Foxtail, the Green-winged Orchid, and the Saw-wort characteristic species of meadows. On the drier clearings of alkaline oak steppe-forests (Galatello-Quercetum roboris) the characteristic dwarf shrub species of the Pannonian wooded-steppe vegetation, the Ground cherry and almond (Amygdalus nana) appear.


List of the Vascular Plants of the Hortobágy

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