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Xerothermic species


Epipactis atrorubens

The typical xerothermic grasses, characteristic of the continental climate regions with low rainfalls and very hot summers, are generally not found in Poland. The best developed complexes of xerothermic meadows can be found in south-eastern Poland and on dispersed sites in the southern part of the country. However, even at those locations, they are impoverished and lack some of the species characteristic of this type of environment. In the other parts of the country, xerophilous species appear sporadically.


The presence of xerothermic plant clusters is associated mainly with terrain configuration and specific microclimatic conditions. In the area of the Wigry National Park such clusters exist on numerous moraine hills, kames and other postglacial deposits, as well as south-exposed slopes. They may also be found on the sandr plain in the southern part of the Park and on the boundaries of dry, thin forests. Such locations provide permeable, calcium enriched soil and high irradiation that are required for the growth of xerophilous plants.




Sand pink (Dianthus arenarius)
usually has fine, white flowers,
which can also sometimes become pink

A significant part of xerothermic complexes is anthropogenic, which means they are man-made. Their stability requires constant man intervention, e.g. periodical mowing or bush removal. When left unattended, these locations are quickly overgrown, first by bushes and later by trees, which leads to their transformation into forests. One of the larger xerothermic grasses located in the Park – situated by the lake Wigry in Czerwony Krzyż – is currently seriously endangered due to the overgrowing ramanas rose Rosa rugosa.


Xerothermic grasses existing in the Park are impoverished and do not feature the full set of plants typical of environments of this type. The reason for the above is the cold and severe climate with relatively high rainfall total, which limits the growth possibilities of many xenophilous plant species. Some of the species arrived here naturally, and some of them were spread by man – either by accident or on purpose. Hen and chicken house leek Jovibarba sobolifera, included in the species protection programme, belongs to the second group and was probably spread in the area of WNP by man, as a decorative plant, planted in rock gardens and house yards.



Meadow anemone (Pulsatilla pratensis)


Oxytropis pilosa and  Epipactis atrorubens can be found on sandy and intensively sun-heated south-facing slopes. Oxytropis pilosa exists in Poland on dispersed sites, mainly in the south of the country and in its south-eastern part. Warm, sun-heated and very dry sites with sandy and rocky substratum feature sand pink Dianthus arenarius, which blooms in August and September with fine, white flowers. This species can be found mainly in the lowlands, where it grows on dispersed sites.




Prairie anemone (Pulstatilla patens)


Logged areas and boundaries of dry forests, as well as dry grasses, often feature yellow everlasting Helichrysum arenarium. It is a partially protected species, common in the lowland part of Poland. Sand sedge Carex arenaria, which is also partially protected, is not numerous in the Park and grows on sand clusters located on dry subsoil. It is common on the Baltic sea shore, where it grows on dunes and sandy patches.

One of the most widely known plant species that are featured in dry environments is an anemone. Two species of anemones are present in the Park: the meadow anemone Pulsatilla pratensis and prairie anemone Pulstatilla patens. The first one, contrary to what its name might suggest, grows on the boundaries of thin forests, sunny cliffs and forest crops. In Poland it grows mainly in the lowlands and very rarely in the south. It blooms from April to May, rather than June.




There are many varieties of cowslip
(Primula veris), differing from each other
by the level of leaf hairiness



Prairie anemone can be found mainly in central and north-eastern Poland. It is rather numerous in the Park and grows in thin, fresh, coniferous pine forests and xerothermic grasses. It starts to bloom as early as March and until May. Prairie anemone was included in " The Red List of Vascular Plants Endangered in Poland" with a status of an endangered species and in the "Polish Red Book of Plants" in the group of "low risk" plants.



Another species common in the Park that exists on dry and warm grasses, sunny slopes, boundaries of dry forests and thin bushes, is cowslip cowslip Primula veris. Its golden-yellow flowers are eagerly frequented by bees and other insects. It blooms from April till May and is subject to partial protection.







Snow drop windflower (Anemone sylvestris). Many insects
frequent its large flowers, and ants spread its seeds


It is much harder to come across a snow drop windflower Anemone sylvestris – a poisonous perennial plant that visually resembles wood anemone, but significantly exceeds it in size (up to 40 cm in height). The flowers of snow drop windflower appear from April till June and can have a diameter of 7 cm. The plant prefers warm bushes, but also exists on dry meadows and in thin and warm forests. It may be found in Poland on the sites dispersed in the whole lowland area.