ISSN 1188-603X

No. 147 October 29, Victoria, B.C.
Dr. A. Ceska, P.O.Box 8546, Victoria, B.C. Canada V8W 3S2


Dierschke, H. (1992):
European Vegetation Survey - ein neuer Anlauf fur eine Ubersicht der Pflanzengesellschaften Europas. - Tuexenia 12: 381-383. Gottingen

Considerations to work up a syntaxonomic overview (prodromus) of the plant communities of Europe have been around since the 20s already, in other words almost since the beginning of phytosociology. With the establishment of a private research institute by Braun-Blanquet in Montpellier (1929), the Station Internationale de Geobotanique Mediterraneenne et Alpine (SIGMA), an international commission was put in place which was to work on the prodromus. Only four years later the first overview of coastal communities of the Mediterranean area appeared (Braun-Blanquet 1933) after which six parts appeared in addition, concluding with the Class Cisto-Lavanduletea (Braun-Blanquet et al. 1940).

After the second World War began an intensive phase of field work, vegetation analysis and synthesis. The number of publications multiplied almost exponentially, many international symposia and excursions expanded the knowledge and led to the refinement and unification of phytosociological methods. A new international centre developed at Stolzenau, later at Todenmann/Rinteln under the direction of R. Tuxen. With this new plans were soon discussed for a European prodromus of plant communities. A first resolution to this end was at the Symposium on Phytosociological Systematics in Stolzenau in 1964. A two-day colloquium in 1968 in Todenmann led to a provisional overview of the state of work in the European countries, and to concrete work proposals (cf. Dierschke 1971, Tuxen 1972). Also a list of possible editors of individual classes was put forward (Tuxen 1971). At the Prodromus-Colloquium of 1972 in Todenmann the first results were presented for discussion.

The first concrete result was a very complete syntaxonomical bibliography as basis for finding and working up the phytosociological data which were widely scattered in the literature. The first paper appeared already in 1971 (Tuxen et al.); up to the present 39 papers on many classes of vegetation have been completed. Two years later the first paper on the prodromus was published (Beeftink & Gehu 1973). The second initiative ended with a fourth paper, on the Lemnetea (Schwabe-Braun & Tuxen 1981). With the exception of a few, mostly species- and community-poor classes (in the mean time also Littorelletea and Violetea calaminariae) the actual work had not even begun, or only partially. The reason for this was primarily the absence of professional, paid specialists. There was certainly enough expertise, but it was with phytosociologists whose time was taken up with other projects.

Today there are both positive and negative signs for a new start. We have available not only considerably better information out of regions which were considered little researched only 20 years ago (e.g., France, Italy), but also the beginnings of syntaxonomical work especially in eastern Europe. At the same time the number of vegetation releves has gone into the innumerable (an estimated 100,000). However it appears that a synthesis today with help of EDV would be more promising than the routine handwork of 20 years ago. Nonetheless, the number of published syntaxa on all different levels, often in regional or national solo efforts, is scarcely viewable. A European synopsis must not only examine and bring together a giant data set, but must at the same time lead to a strongly reduced, viewable number of syntaxa which are applicable to the widest area and more strongly abstracted from regional idiosyncracies. Already the agreement on these basic issues must be viewed with skepticism.

Despite these difficulties and misgivings a new beginning had to be attempted. Under the encouragement and direction of S. PIGNATTI (following earlier discussion in 1988 in Frascati) a meeting of interested phytosociologists took place during the Symposium for International Unification of Vegetation Science in Warsaw in 1990, followed by another in 1991 in Eger. At this time it was agreed that a preparatory meeting of representatives from the most countries possible should be held at Rome at the beginning of 1992, the results of which are reported here in brief. The entire project received the name "European Vegetation Survey".

A workshop with several keynote presentations as well as national reports on the syntaxonomic state of work was held at the Botanical Garden at Rome, led by S. Pignatti and L. Mucina. Vegetation scientists from the following countries were represented: Austria, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Finland, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, and Switzerland.

Out of the reports from the individual countries the following deserve mention:

In other countries (e.g., Germany, France, Poland, Spain, Czechoslovakia) there is more encompassing syntaxonomical work in progress [taking place] in various working groups. Since no paid specialists are available, it is proceeding at a crawl. Mostly lacking are generally accepted methodical basics and a national database.

The discussion of organizational and financial questions took much time. L. Mucina presented a detailed organizational plan with actual syntaxonomical working groups and more central groups for coordination and control as well as for basic decisions and representation to the outside. The possibilities of funding were particularly strongly debated. There was agreement that, at least for the central assignments, including an international database, only fully paid assistance could be considered. 10-20 years have to be allowed for the entire project. In the test phase several widely distributed, not too species-poor communities should be worked over. The complex Koelerio-Corynophoretea/Sedo-Scleranthetea/Tuberarietea was proposed for this.

In conclusion assignments were distributed to smaller groups, which are to be taken care of within a year:

In order to expand the data base, current national programmes should be supported and encouraged. Lately they have laid the decisive groundwork for an overview in the framework of Europe.


Beeftink, W.G., Gehu, J.-M. (1973):
Prodromus der europaischen Pflanzengesellschaften. 1: Spartinetea maritimae. - Cramer, Lehre: 48 p.
Braun-Blanquet, J. (1933):
Prodrome des groupements vegetaux. 1: Ammophiletalia et Salicornietalia medit. - Montpellier: 23 p.
Braun-Blanquet, J., Molinier, R., Wagner, H. (1940):
Prodrome des groupements vegetaux. 7: Classe Cisto-Lavanduletea. - Montpellier: 53 p.
Dierschke, H. (1971):
Stand und Aufgaben der pflanzensoziologischen Systematik in Europa. - Vegetatio 22 (4-5): 255-264. The Hague.
Dierschke, H. (1972):
Bericht uber das Prodromus-Kolloquium in Todenmann am 26. Marz 1972. Vegetatio 25 (5-6): 406-408. The Hague.
Pignatti, S. (1990):
Towards a prodrome of plant communities. - Journ. Veg. Sci. 1 (3): 425-426. Uppsala.
Rodwell, J.S. (ed.) (1991):
British plant communities. Vol. I: Woodlands and scrub. - Cambridge Univ. Press: 395 p.
Schaminee, J.H.J. (1988):
Plantengemeenschappen van Nederland. 2. Lemnetea. - Intern. rapport Rijksinst. Natuurbeheer 88/75. Leersum: 20 p.
Schwabe-Braun, A., Tuxen, R. (1981):
Prodromus der europaischen Pflanzengesellschaften. 4: Lemnetea minoris. - Cramer, Vaduz: 141 p.
Tuxen, R. (1971):
Vorlaufige Liste von Mitarbeitern am Prodromus der Europaischen Pflanzengesellschaften. - Vegetatio 24 (1-3): 23-29. The Hague.
Tuxen, R. (1972):
Richtlinien fur die Aufstellung eines Prodromus der Europaischen Pflanzengesellschaften. - Vegetatio 24 (1-3): 23-29. The Hague.
Tuxen, R., Bottcher, H., Dierssen, K. (1971):
Bibliographia Phytosociologica Syntaxonomica. 1:Bolboschoenetea maritimi. - Cramer, Lehre: 25 p.


Several weeks ago, Rachel Rayman posted this message on bryophyte discussion list bryonet-l:

"Hi, My grade 3 teacher asked me to research this question. Sites on the web are too complicated. Can anyone answer the question or point me to a resource? Thx. - R."

Rachel got over twenty answers and did her own observations and experiments. Results of her project are summarized at the following web page:



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From: Mary Ellen Grant (

I am a Biology student based out of the University College of the Cariboo under the supervision of R. David Williams (UCC), Dr. Gary Bradfield (UBC) and Dr. Nancy Turner (UVIC).

The title of my Directed Studies is "An Ethnobotanical Study: Utilization and management of plant species by Indigenous peoples, a local to global view of pit cooking." The objectives of this study is to compile data from local to global sources.

I would greatly appreciate the support of the readers to guide me to resources which might be available.


From: Alwynne Beaudoin (

Sponsored by the Friends of the Provincial Museum of Alberta Society, the Provincial Museum of Alberta World Wide Web presentation is now "on the air" and can be accessed at:

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