Adonis vernalis (pheasant’s eye), Ajuga laxmannii (bugleweed), Anchusa barrelieri (Barrelier’s bugloss), Ranunculus illyricus, Silene bupleuroides (catchfly), Viola ambigua (violet), Vinca herbacea (herbaceous periwinkle) and many other rare flowering plants, totalling 82 are included in a plant rescue programme currently underway at the Botanical Garden of the University of Szeged.
“We are participating in a programme to protect natural stands of rare loess steppe plant species in a 160-hectare area of the Körös-Maros National Park. This nature conservation programme was launched in March 2017 and involves 82 plant species, including 16 protected and 52 regionally endangered species” reports Anikó Németh, director of the Botanical Garden of the University of Szeged.
The Pannon loess steppe is one of the most complex and species-rich plant community in Hungary. This community is endangered due to the rich and fertile chernozem soil found in the National Park has largely been ploughed for cultivation. Leaving only small patches of these plants on the slopes of kurgans or between alkali grasslands. Planting areas have been marked and seeds have been collected from the designated plant species within 30 kilometres of the planting areas. The seeds are currently being purified and stored till sowed. There is virtually no knowledge about the reproduction and development of 50 of the 82 plant species to be replanted.
To rescue these plants, sowing experiments have been established to find the optimal conditions and time period for germination adds Anikó Németh describing a crucial step in the nature conservation programme. Seedlings will be planted in multiple phases, with the characteristic natural spatial distribution and growth characteristics of plants taken into consideration. This project will result in the Botanical Garden of the University of Szeged helping plant diversity of Pannon loess steppes in the Southern Trans-Tisza Region by planting 25 thousand seedlings and sowing 255 thousand seeds by the end of 2021.