baumzaehlen - Primeval Forests & Their Trees

©2017 copyright christoph hase

Rhön Biosphere Reserve , Germany

The Biosphere Reserve is mostly cultural landscape and not really protected but there are a few small reserves of primeval character.

Eisgraben Nature Reserve (28 ha) is located in the low ravine of Eisgraben creek at elevations 625–735 m. The present form of the ravine is the result of an immense downpour in 1834 that rolled big basalt blocks far downriver 1 . The upper slopes have younger forest and cut stumps, but the immediate surroundings of the creek look primeval at least in places, with plenty of fallen trees. The soil is fertile and derived from basalt 1 . The most abundant trees around the creek are Opens internal link in current window Fagus sylvatic a (European beech) and Opens internal link in current window Acer pseudoplatanus (sycamore maple). Opens internal link in current window Ulmus glabra (wych elm), too, has been abundant in the past but the Dutch elm disease ( Ophiostoma spp. ) has killed most of the trees; there are saplings, nevertheless. A few further species occur here and there; all are easy to identify. The unstable block bed of the ravine reduces the competitiveness of F. sylvatica , thus favouring other trees 2 3 . There are no particularly large trees. There are trails and off-trail hiking is also allowed, though it is quite difficult.

In Central Europe there were still in the mid 1800s untouched raised bogs stretching as far as the eye could see 4 . Today, Schwarzes Moor (Black Moor) Nature Reserve (59 ha), located only two kilometres from the Eisgraben Nature Reserve, is one of the last intact raised bogs of Central Europe 1 , protected as early as 1914. The elevation is 770–782 m. The central bog area has very open stands of stunted Opens internal link in current window Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine) only a few metres tall. On the fringes, the trees become taller and P. sylvestris mixed with Opens internal link in current window Betula pubescens (downy birch) forms low woodland. The latter is also called B. pubescens var. glabrata but this is placed as a synonym of var. pubescens in a recent monograph 5 . Signs of earlier human influence can be seen in places in the peripheral areas. A built trail runs through the bog.

Annual precipitation is over 1000 mm 1 .


1 Sperber, G. & Thierfelder, S. (2005): Urwälder Deutschlands. BLV Verlagsgesellschaft mbH.

2 Schmidt, O. & Roloff, A. ( 2010): Acer pseudoplatanus. In Roloff, A. et al. (eds.): Bäume Mitteleuropas . Wiley-VCH.

3 Mackenthun, G. (2006): Ulmus glabra. In Schütt, P. et al. (eds.): Enzyklopädie der Laubbäume . Nikol.

4 Ellenberg, H. (1996): Vegetation Mitteleuropa s mit den Alpen. Ulmer.

5 Ashburner, K. & McAllister, H. (2013): The Genus Betula, A Taxonomic Revision of Birches. Royal Botanic Gardens.

Official sites:

Eisgraben. Acer pseudoplatanus (sycamore maple, left foreground), Fraxinus excelsior (European ash, right background with reddish bark), Fagus sylvatica (European beech, most other trees).
Eisgraben. Fagus sylvatica (European beech, with smooth grey bark), Acer pseudoplatanus (sycamore maple, left), dead Ulmus glabra (wych elm, centre), Fraxinus excelsior (European ash, left from U. glabra ).
Eisgraben. Acer pseudoplatanus (sycamore maple, right), Fagus sylvatica (European beech, most other trees, including the fallen ones).
Schwarzes Moor, central bog area. Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine) and Betula pubescens (downy birch).
Schwarzes Moor, from central part towards bog fringe. Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine) and Betula pubescens (downy birch).
Schwarzes Moor, bog fringe. Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine) and Betula pubescens (downy birch).
Schwarzes Moor, bog fringe. Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine).