Red List habitat classification > RLF - Heathland and scrub > RLF3.1c Lowland to montane temperate and submediterranean genistoid scrub

Lowland to montane temperate and submediterranean genistoid scrub

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLF3.1c
Threat status
Europe Least Concern
EU Least Concern
Relation to
Source European Red List habitat factsheet
European Red List of habitats reports
European Red List of habitats (Excel table)


A few meters high scrubland, dominated by species of the family Fabaceae (Leguminosae),  specifically species of the genera Cytisus, Ulex, Adenocarpus, Genista and/or Retama. The habitat occurs in the temperate, submediterranean and mediterranean region, where it is mainly found on sunny, dry, nutrient-poor, acidic soils, but exceptionally also grows on more base-rich soils. It is in most cases a secondary habitat, forming a stage in the succession from grassland or heathland towards (Quercus) forests and occurring as mantle vegetation along forests. The potential vegetation in the areas of this broom dominated habitat are forests dominated by Quercus pyrenaica, Q. suber, Q. rotundifolia and in more humid areas Q. robur, Q. petraea and Fagus sylvatica. The habitat is associated with agro-pastoral landscapes, and in such environment it may form a threat to heathlands and grasslands, as the shrubs encroach after abandonment of traditional management. Broom species easily germinate in fallow lands on nutrient-poor, mineral soils, where they have good competitive conditions because of the root nodules, containing bacteria that capture atmospheric nitrogen (Rhizobacteria). In Portugal rye cultivation became the major driving force behind the evolution of broom fields and – to a lesser extent – also triggered the development of other vegetation.

Cytisus scoparius may also dominate ruderal sites, like along roads, in dry riverbeds, on cultivated fields, in logged forests or on burned sites. In rocky areas on shallow soils, also primary habitats of this type may be found. In Spain, Portugal and France genistoid scrub can also grow as post-fire vegetation.

In Northwest and Central Europe this is a relatively species poor type, mainly dominated by Cytisus scoparius and – in the Atlantic regions – Ulex europaeus, and with Orobanche rapum-genistae as a characteristic species of the Cytisus scoparius scrub. Further south the type becomes more diverse. In southern Italy (Sicily and Calabria) a community of Adenocarpus brutius (= Adenocarpus complicatus subsp. brutius ) and Cytisus scoparius with many endemics (including Viola aethnensis subsp. messanensis) occurs as secondary vegetation in relatively acidic, mesophilous sites where Fagus sylvatica or Quercus ilex forests are the climax.  In central Italy Adenocarpus complicatus subsp. complicatus forms scrub formations.

The highest diversity however is found on the Iberian Peninsula, where a broad range of high, genistoid shrubs may dominate, depending on the geographical region, elevation and soil conditions. Examples of such shrubs are Cytisus multiflorus, Cytisus striatus (subsp. striatus and subsp. eriocarpus), Cytisus bourgaei (= C. scoparius subsp. bourgaei), Genista cinerescens, Genista florida, Genista hispanica subsp. occidentalis, Genista polyantha, Adenocarpus argyrophyllus, Adenocarpus telonensis, Retama monsperma and Retama sphaerocarpa. These communities in Spain and Portugal are ranked under various denominations such as retamal (dominated by Retama or Adenocarpus species), piornal (Genista-dominated) and escobonal (large brooms, for instance Cytisus).

Almost all communities of the habitat are grouped in the class Cytisetea scopario-striati, although sometimes Cytisus scoparius and Ulex europaeus also participate in the Calluno-Ulicetea or in the Rhamno-Prunetea (the analogue mantle-scrub on richer soils). For the communities in the southeastern Balkan the assignment to classes and alliances has not been worked out yet.

In several other habitat types genistoid shrubs may become dominant. In Atlantic coastal dunes scrub with Cytisus scoparius and Ulex europaeus may be found, but those are part of habitat ‘Atlantic dune scrub’ (B1.6a). Individual shrubs of these two species may grow in a heathland or matorral, for example Ulex europaeus forma maritimus and Cytisus scoparius subsp. maritimus in heathlands on rocky coasts; in such cases the communities should be considered as part of those heathland or matorral habitats. Only if the shrubs form a relatively closed and relatively high community, the habitat type F3.1c is present. In (montane to) subalpine and oromediterranean belts of mountains Cytisus oromediterraneus (=C. purgans) and Echinospartum species form (relatively low) scrub, but those communities (equivalent to HD Annex 1-type 5120) are part of the Oro-Mediterranean habitat type F7.4a (Western Mediterranean mountain hedgehog-heath). The relatively low scrub dominated by Genista hispanica subsp. occidentalis, classified in the class Festuco hystricis-Ononidetea striata, also is considered part of F7.4a.

Indicators of good quality:

The habitat tends to develop a high and relatively closed structure, while trees are absent. However, often the more open patches, mosaics with other habitats, have the highest biodiversity of plant species and animals. Indicators of good quality are:

·      Relatively open scrubland in mosaic with other types;

·      Presence of endemic shrub species;

·      Presence of Orobanche rapum-genistae (Northwestern Europe);

·      Absence of trees.

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

The Red List assessment, based on all provided data with some assumptions for important data gaps, leads to the conclusion that habitat F1.3c qualifies for the category Least Concern (LC) regarding trends in quantity and quality.
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Least Concern -
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Least Concern -

Confidence in the assessment

Red List of habitat categories and criteria descriptions

Pressures and threats

  • Agriculture
    • Abandonment of pastoral systems, lack of grazing
    • Abandonment of crop production
  • Sylviculture, forestry
    • Artificial planting on open ground (non-native trees)
  • Natural System modifications
    • Burning down
  • Natural biotic and abiotic processes (without catastrophes)
    • Species composition change (succession)

Habitat restoration potential

In just a few years the habitat can recover both naturally and through intervention. In general Genista and Cytisus have a high germination capacity and develop rather fast. However it is more difficult to estimate wether the quality of the habitat will recover so fast. This depends on the sub-type. In case of rather high species composition of an intact plant community, the germination capacity of species other than Genisteae may be lower.

Trends in extent

Average current trend in quantity

Increasing Increasing
EU28 EU28+

Trends in quality

Average current trend in quality

Decreasing Decreasing
EU28 EU28+

Conservation and management needs

Most important challenges for conservation of the habitat are (1) to maintain traditional land use to a certain extent, and (2) to develop natural forests with natural mantle vegetation.

List of conservation and management needs

  • Measures related to agriculture and open habitats
    • Other agriculture-related measures
  • Measures related to forests and wooded habitats
    • Restoring/Improving forest habitats


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 unknown Unknown Unknown
Belgium Present unknown Unknown Unknown
Czech Republic Present 3 Decreasing Stable
Denmark Present unknown Unknown Unknown
France mainland Present 1000-1500 Decreasing Increasing
Germany Present unknown Decreasing Unknown
Greece (mainland and other islands) Present unknown Unknown Unknown
Hungary Present unknown Unknown Unknown
Ireland Present unknown Unknown Unknown
Italy mainland Present 788 Decreasing Increasing
Sardinia Present 788 Decreasing Increasing
Sicily Present 788 Decreasing Increasing
Luxembourg Present unknown Unknown Unknown
Netherlands Present 3 Decreasing Decreasing
Poland Present unknown Unknown Unknown
Portugal mainland Present 10 Unknown Increasing
Slovenia Present 0.2 Decreasing Stable
Spain mainland Present 5857 Unknown Increasing
Sweden Present unknown Unknown Unknown
United Kingdom Present 160 Decreasing Decreasing
Croatia Present 0.2 Stable Unknown
Northern Island Present 160 Decreasing Decreasing
EU28 + Present or presence uncertain Current area of habitat (Km2) Recent trend in quantity (last 50 years) Recent trend in quality (last 50 years)
Guernsey Present unknown Unknown Unknown
Jersey Present unknown Unknown Unknown
Switzerland Present 70 Stable Increasing
Isle of Man Present unknown Unknown Unknown

Extent of Occurrence, Area of Occupancy and habitat area

Extent of Occurrence (EOO) (Km2) Area of Occupancy (AOO) Current estimated Total Area Comment
EU28 5799500 4035 8100
EU28+ 4041 8200
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

Not available

Vegetation types

Relation to vegetation types (syntaxa)

Not available

Other classifications

Not available
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