Within the federal state of Hesse, Nardus grasslands have a main area of distribution in the Rhön region. They cover a total area of 193.5 ha. Both in terms of its areal extent and its floristic inventory the Natura 2000 site “Hochrhön” is of national importance for this habitat type.
Except for a few sites they have a high species diversity. Numerous herbs supply a wealth of flowers, seeds and fruits. In pasture sites there are scattered shrubs, trees or basalt blocks, leading to increased structural diversity. The sites can be allocated to the alliance of Violion caninae. In many places the Rhön Nardus grasslands show transitional stages to mountain hay meadows or calcareous oligotrophic grasslands.
The butterfly fauna of the Nardus grasslands consists of species of dry grasslands as well as of species from the mountain hay meadows.
The occurrence of Euphydryas aurinia (Annex II Habitats Directive) and of Parnassius Mnemosyne (Annex IV) deserve special attention.
Nardus grasslands were formed by extensive grazing or mowing. In the Natura 2000 site “Hochrhön” the largest part of the sites is currently mowed once.
Violion caninae - picture: Uwe Barth