Red List habitat classification > RLE - Grasslands > RLE5.4 Lowland moist or wet tall-herb and fern fringe

Lowland moist or wet tall-herb and fern fringe

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLE5.4
Threat status
Europe Vulnerable
EU Vulnerable
Relation to
Source European Red List habitat factsheet
European Red List of habitats reports
European Red List of habitats (Excel table)

Summary

Tall-herb and fern communities of this habitat type are widespread in the nemoral, boreal and submediterranean parts of Europe. These include stands of tall herbs and ferns in the lowlands, hills and low mountain ranges up to the subalpine zone. In general, this refers to areas below 1,000 meters of  altitude. Such tall herb communities are mostly found along watercourses, in wet meadows and in the shade at the edge of woodlands. The rather species-rich vegetation is dominated by 1 to 1.5 m (sometimes even more than 2 m), tall forbs and grasses, sometimes mixed with lianes such as Calystegia sepium and Cuscuta europaea. Usually the stands cover narrow strips (up to 2–3 m, often narrower). The communities are generally rich in flowers, attracting lots of insects, especially butterflies. The side conditions are moist to wet and generally nitrogen-rich; the substrates are often seasonally or even permanently submerged. As a result, many of the prevailing species may grow both in the water (shallow water 0.10–0.20 m deep) and on over-wet soils. The species composition is diverse, depending on the altitude and location in the landscape, reflecting the composition of the surrounding communities. In floodplains and along running water streams in more hilly regions, mostly on clay and gravel grounds, the communities are characterized by species like Althaea officinalis, Epilobium hirsutum, Eupatorium cannabinum, Symphytum officinale and various species of the genus Angelica, representing alliances of the order Convolvuletalia sepium. As such communities are found widespread over Europe, floristic differences may be observed in line with the geographic distribution (atlantic, subatlantic, boreal, submediterranean and central European). In abandoned meadows and places of secondary origin, e.g. along canals and ponds, ruderal species and neophytes (such as Impatiens glandulifera and Solidago gigantea) are frequent companions. The vegetation here is often assigned to the order Molinietalia. In the shade of the edge of woodlands, in forest clearings on wet soils, and in humid ravines, tall forb communities may develop that show quite some similarity with fringe communities of habitat type E5.2a. Such communities are assigned to the order Circaeo lutetianae-Stachyetalia sylvaticae and may include species like Aegopodium podagraria, Brachypodium sylvaticum, Circaea lutetiana, and Stachys sylvatica. In spite of all this variation, it is not easy and therefore not recommended to define subtypes.

Indicators of good quality:

  • Lack of invasive species
  • Dominance of tall-herbs and lianes
  • Absence of shrubs and trees
  • No dominance of nitrophilous species like Urtica dioica and Galium aparine
  • High species richness

Characteristic species
For full habitat description, please download the habitat factsheet.

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

Based on a reduction in quantity over the past 50 years, this habitat type has received the Red List status Vulnerable (VU) in both EU28 and EU28+. Furthermore, a substantial reduction in biotic and abiotic quality has resulted in a Near Threatened status (NT).
EU
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Vulnerable A1
Europe
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Vulnerable A1

Confidence in the assessment

medium
Red List of habitat categories and criteria descriptions

Pressures and threats

  • Agriculture
    • Agricultural intensification
    • Fertilisation
  • Urbanisation, residential and commercial development
    • Urbanised areas, human habitation
  • Natural System modifications
    • Canalisation & water deviation
    • Flooding modifications
    • Modification of hydrographic functioning, general
    • Water abstractions from groundwater

Habitat restoration potential

Depending on the type of damage, restoration may be possible. Relatively easy is to lower the amount of fertilisation, as for as the abiotic conditions are still intact. Most problematic is restoring the hydrologic regime, as these tall forb communities easily transform into dense stands that are dominated by Urtica dioica, Galium aparine and other nitrophilous competitors.

Trends in extent

Average current trend in quantity

Decreasing Decreasing
EU28 EU28+

Trends in quality

Average current trend in quality

Decreasing Decreasing
EU28 EU28+

Conservation and management needs

Although these tall forb communities are still occurring over large areas in Europe, there are ongoing risks for further degradation. This applies particularly to the (more or less) natural communtiies of this type, for which appropriate measurements are needed to safeguard the relevant hydrological conditions. In addition, further intensification of agricultural practices (fertilisation, drainage) has to be called to an end.

List of conservation and management needs

  • Measures related to wetland, freshwater and coastal habitats
    • Restoring/Improving the hydrological regime

Distribution

For each habitat a distribution map was produced from a wide variety of sources indicating known and potential occurrences of the habitat in 10x10 km grids within Europe. Occurrences in grid cells were given in two classes: actual distribution from relatively reliable sources (surveys, expert knowledge), and potential distribution based on models or less reliable indicators. Please download the fact sheet to see the map.

Geographic occurrence and trends

EU28 Present or presence uncertain Current area of habitat (Km2) Recent trend in quantity (last 50 years) Recent trend in quality (last 50 years)
Austria Present 70 Decreasing Unknown
Belgium Present 130 Decreasing Stable
Bulgaria Present 122 Decreasing Decreasing
Croatia Present 2 Decreasing Stable
Czech Republic Present 2 Decreasing Decreasing
Estonia Present 20 Unknown Unknown
Finland mainland Present 40 Decreasing Decreasing
France mainland Present 1500 Decreasing Decreasing
Germany Present 380 Decreasing Decreasing
Greece (mainland and other islands) Present 8 Unknown Unknown
Hungary Present 27 Decreasing Decreasing
Ireland Present 2 Unknown Unknown
Italy mainland Present 135 Decreasing Decreasing
Latvia Present 16 Decreasing Unknown
Lithuania Present 19 Decreasing Decreasing
Luxembourg Present - -
Netherlands Present 24 Decreasing Decreasing
Poland Present 123 Decreasing Decreasing
Portugal mainland Present 14 Unknown Decreasing
Romania Present 40 Unknown Increasing
Slovakia Present 20 Decreasing Decreasing
Slovenia Present 15 Decreasing Stable
Spain mainland Present 83 Unknown Stable
United Kingdom Present - -
EU28 + Present or presence uncertain Current area of habitat (Km2) Recent trend in quantity (last 50 years) Recent trend in quality (last 50 years)
Albania Present - -
Bosnia and Herzegovina Present 20 Decreasing Decreasing
Iceland Present - -
Kaliningrad Present - -
Kosovo Present - -
Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Present - -
Montenegro Present - -
Norway Mainland Present - -
Serbia Present - -
Switzerland Present 60 Decreasing Decreasing

Extent of Occurrence, Area of Occupancy and habitat area

Extent of Occurrence (EOO) (Km2) Area of Occupancy (AOO) Current estimated Total Area Comment
EU28 8419250 11516 2793
EU28+ 11709 2873
AOO = the area occupied by a habitat measured in number of 10x10 km grid cells.
EOO = the area (km2) of the envelope around all occurrences of a habitat (calculated by a minimum convex polygon).

Characteristic species

The full list of characteristic species and genus are available above from the Summary. The species available in the EUNIS database are shown here.
Ferns Dryopteris filix-mas
Ferns Equisetum ramosissimum
Ferns Equisetum telmateia
Flowering Plants Aegopodium podagraria
Flowering Plants Alliaria petiolata
Flowering Plants Althaea officinalis
Flowering Plants Angelica archangelica
Flowering Plants Angelica heterocarpa
Flowering Plants Angelica sylvestris
Flowering Plants Aruncus vulgaris
Flowering Plants Brachypodium sylvaticum
Flowering Plants Calystegia sepium
Flowering Plants Carduus crispus
Flowering Plants Carex pendula
Flowering Plants Chaerophyllum hirsutum
Flowering Plants Circaea lutetiana
Flowering Plants Crepis paludosa
Flowering Plants Cuscuta europaea
Flowering Plants Dipsacus fullonum
Flowering Plants Dipsacus laciniatus
Flowering Plants Echinochloa crus-galli
Flowering Plants Epilobium hirsutum
Flowering Plants Eupatorium cannabinum
Flowering Plants Euphorbia lucida
Flowering Plants Festuca gigantea
Flowering Plants Filipendula ulmaria
Flowering Plants Fragaria vesca
Flowering Plants Galeopsis speciosa
Flowering Plants Galium aparine
Flowering Plants Glycyrrhiza echinata
Flowering Plants Heracleum sibiricum
Flowering Plants Impatiens balfourii
Flowering Plants Impatiens glandulifera
Flowering Plants Impatiens noli-tangere
Flowering Plants Lamium maculatum
Flowering Plants Lythrum salicaria
Flowering Plants Mycelis muralis
Flowering Plants Physalis alkekengi
Flowering Plants Poa nemoralis
Flowering Plants Rubus caesius
Flowering Plants Salvia glutinosa
Flowering Plants Smyrnium perfoliatum
Flowering Plants Solidago gigantea
Flowering Plants Stachys sylvatica
Flowering Plants Symphytum officinale
Flowering Plants Tanacetum vulgare
Flowering Plants Telekia speciosa
Flowering Plants Urtica dioica
Mosses & Liverworts Brachythecium rivulare
Mosses & Liverworts Brachythecium rutabulum
Mosses & Liverworts Eurhynchium striatum
Mosses & Liverworts Plagiomnium cuspidatum
Mosses & Liverworts Plagiomnium elatum
Mosses & Liverworts Plagiomnium undulatum
Species scientific name English common name Species group
Dryopteris filix-mas Ferns
Equisetum ramosissimum Ferns
Equisetum telmateia Ferns
Aegopodium podagraria Flowering Plants
Alliaria petiolata Flowering Plants
Althaea officinalis Flowering Plants
Angelica archangelica Flowering Plants
Angelica heterocarpa Flowering Plants
Angelica sylvestris Flowering Plants
Aruncus vulgaris Flowering Plants
Brachypodium sylvaticum Flowering Plants
Calystegia sepium Flowering Plants
Carduus crispus Flowering Plants
Carex pendula Flowering Plants
Chaerophyllum hirsutum Flowering Plants
Circaea lutetiana Flowering Plants
Crepis paludosa Flowering Plants
Cuscuta europaea Flowering Plants
Dipsacus fullonum Flowering Plants
Dipsacus laciniatus Flowering Plants
Echinochloa crus-galli Flowering Plants
Epilobium hirsutum Flowering Plants
Eupatorium cannabinum Flowering Plants
Euphorbia lucida Flowering Plants
Festuca gigantea Flowering Plants
Filipendula ulmaria Flowering Plants
Fragaria vesca Flowering Plants
Galeopsis speciosa Flowering Plants
Galium aparine Flowering Plants
Glycyrrhiza echinata Flowering Plants
Heracleum sibiricum Flowering Plants
Impatiens balfourii Flowering Plants
Impatiens glandulifera Flowering Plants
Impatiens noli-tangere Flowering Plants
Lamium maculatum Flowering Plants
Lythrum salicaria Flowering Plants
Mycelis muralis Flowering Plants
Physalis alkekengi Flowering Plants
Poa nemoralis Flowering Plants
Rubus caesius Flowering Plants
Salvia glutinosa Flowering Plants
Smyrnium perfoliatum Flowering Plants
Solidago gigantea Flowering Plants
Stachys sylvatica Flowering Plants
Symphytum officinale Flowering Plants
Tanacetum vulgare Flowering Plants
Telekia speciosa Flowering Plants
Urtica dioica Flowering Plants
Brachythecium rivulare Mosses & Liverworts
Brachythecium rutabulum Mosses & Liverworts
Eurhynchium striatum Mosses & Liverworts
Plagiomnium cuspidatum Mosses & Liverworts
Plagiomnium elatum Mosses & Liverworts
Plagiomnium undulatum Mosses & Liverworts

Vegetation types

Relation to vegetation types (syntaxa)

Not available

Other classifications

This habitat may be equivalent to, or broather than, or narrower than the habitats or ecosystems in the following typologies.
Classification Code Habitat type name Relationship type
EUNIS Habitat Classification 200711 E5.4 Moist or wet tall-herb and fern fringes and meadows same
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