Fanatele Oroiului (Mures county) meadow-steppe grassland habitat

A nice patch of meadow-steppe grasslands which are rarely ecountered in Transsylvania and especially in Mures county

It was nice to see on 18th of July 2008 this patch of meadow-steppe grasslands here however in a quite advanced state of degradation. The species which indicate the well preserved state of a Transsylvanian meadow-steppe grassland (especially massive populations of Clematis integrifolia, Clematis recta) are missing here -actually the species are missing at the site totally said to us that we should not expect there the presence of meadow-steppe rarities like S erratula wolffii or Serratula lycopifolia. Nonetheless the steep flanks of the peak (513m) towering above the southern end of the meadows have nice grasslands that remind us of the situation of the reminiscent populations of Bulbocodium vernum from Boju-Straja Mare or Bontida - Visea. The site should be checked for this species in late March, though we believe the chances are slim.

Interesting is also the absence of the grass Sesleria heuffleriana  from the site which is a common presence on the steep shaded flanks of the hills of the Transylvanian forest-steppe, a situation that also reminds us of the meadow-steppe grasslands from Boju-Straja Mare.

But the fact that reminds us a lot of the meadow-steppe grassland habitats from Boju-Straja Mare and Bontida are the massive landslide mounds of glimea type which are present especially in the northern part of the habitat. The sunny flanks of the glimeas have patches of xeric and meseoxeric steppe grasslands, especially Stipetum pulcherrimae, Festuceto rupicolae-Caricetum humilis and the xeric steppe shruberries Amygdaletum nanae. Along the road which borders the habitat to the east there are patches of degraded Stipetum joannis, a mesoxeric type of meadow-steppe grassland.

The meadow-steppe grasslands contain mesic and mesoxeric phytocenoses dominated by Danthonia calycina, Arrhenaterum elatius, Thinopyrum intermedium (including var. glaucum), Brachypodium pinnatum, Agrostis tenuis.

The meadow-steppe grasslands are degraded, like the ones from Bontida and Boju due to sheep overgrazing in the cold season (october-may) a bad practice that is believed to enrich the soil and provide much grass biomass. In fact this increses the number and quantity of the ruderal nitrophile or opportunistic species at the site. Presumably this stupid custom was introduced by the agronomers in the XXth century because the ancient peasants actually knew the effects produced in the hayfields of this 'soil enrichment' provided by autumn winter-early spring sheep grazing.

Though in this state of quite advanced degradation (which has a mosaicated pattern for its intensity on the surface) the site should be protected and included in NATURA 2000 network due to the presence of Echium russicum and Crambe tataria on the spot. Noticeable is also the nice landscape and tranquility of the area. Other worth to mention species from the site are Peucedanum tauricum, Salvia nutans, Cephalaria uralensis, Serratula radiata, Dictamnus albus. We assume that the site should be further investigated and we believe that apart from the beauty of the landscape there many other interesting biological and ecological aspects will be find.

To view the location, the perimeter and the description of the 8 specific spots from the site download this .kmz file (Fanatele Oroiului). Please add the extension .kmz to the name of the file after downloading. After this double-click on its icon and if you have the Google Earth program installed you will see immediately the location of the site. Another way is to open firstly the Google Earth program and then click <File- Open> this file. If you click on each of the 8 green spots you will see marked on the field (Fanatele Oroiului 1-8) you will be able to see their geographical coordinates, the altitude and a short description of each of them.

Photographs of the site

This is the first image you should see when opening the above .kmz file with Google Earth. If you click on the green area which represent the extension of habitat you will see a short description of the site.

If you click on the screen and use the <shift >and <arrows> keys simultaneously you can also visualize 3D images of the habitat. If you click on one of the eight points marked you will see some details about that specific spot along with its geographical coordinates.

This is the massive landslide mounds (glimeas) complex from the northern part of the habitat which remind us of the Boju-Straja Mare and Bontida-Visea Sarata Hill similar meadow-steppe grassland habitats (though these two are much more expanded and better preserved).

Pruno-Crataegetum shrubberies encouraged by annual fire settinngs in the meadows. Below there are many springs and small marshes with a mixture of shrubs, Calamagrostis epigeios mesohigrophyle grasslands and Thinopyrum intermedium dominated meadows. Among the species present here we remarked only Thalictum flavum.

This is the peak (513m) above and to the southern corner of Fanatele Oroiului meadow-steppe grassland habitat

A picture taken from a sunny flank of a mound (glimea) where a well preserved patch of xeric Stipetum pulcherrimae was found (Fanatele Oroiului2 point  in the .kmz file above). In the first plan you can see two species which when present in rich population show the well preserved status of a xeric or mesoxeric transsylvanian grassland: Serratula radiata (left) and Dictamnus albus (to the right), both at fruiting stage. In the background you can notice the presence of a small tellowish grassy plateau where the dominant grass species is Danthonia calycina. The shrubs are Pyris pyraster, Crataegus monogyna, Prunus spinosa and the planted Robinia pseudacaccia.

A Danthonia calycina dominated grassland.


A Thinopyron intermedium var. glaucum dominated grassland. This species seem to be a natural species of the maeadow-steppe grasslands but it is favored by grazing.


The sunny flank of a mound (glimea) with mesoxeric-xeric steppe grasslands. You can notice in the upper part of the mound the dull green tussocks of the xeric Carex humilis a species which is particular to the steppe grasslands of Transsylvania (at the scale of Romania and Central Europe).


Cepahalaria uralensis (in buds) on the sunny flank of a mound


Peucedanum tauricum (only tiny populations here) at the top of a mound in a xeric grassland.


Melico transsilvanicae - Amygdaletum nanae


Not such an important species - but beautiful at this time - Allium oleraceum


Allium oleraceum - a detail

There are some rustic roads among the mounds...


The tranquility of the area was spoiled by the presence of this agricultural machine... which in less than an hour harvested the small braley cropfield situated in the central part of the habitat (also it can be seen on Google Earth - see the .kmz file above).

Agrostio tenuis - Festucetum rupicolae in the worst affected by grazing and ruderalizing areas of the site.


From the upper eastern part of the habitat one can see the beautiful panorama of the Berghia valley and of the Targu Mures city to the south.







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