Šumava Protected Landscape Area


The flora composition in Šumava PLA is most influenced by the geological structure of the area, climatic conditions and high proportion of forested area as well as the specific position of the mountain range on the migration routes for vegetation in the postglacial period. The acidic environment of the schists and sandstones together with the poor soils, often with scree formed of siliceous minerals have led to the formation of specific ecosystems formed of species which can live on soils with low mineral content. The highly waterlogged soils also influence the forest and non-forest plant communities.

Most of the PLA territory belongs to the Mesophyticum with typical forest types – acidophilous beech and fir forests, acidophilous sub-montane beech forests, transforming into waterlogged spruce forests, peaty and climax spruce forest types. The soil conditions, climate and geomorphology of the region mean that spruce has always dominated the areas forests. Acidophilous beech forests are forced out by spruce stands and spruces make up between 50 and 90 % of the tree composition. Along the streams at lower elevations we can find alder communities, with black alder at lower elevations and speckled alder at higher elevations. On the riverbanks and terraces we can find sessile oak stands with a mixture of spruce and fir. Especially on sunny mountain slopes at around 1 000 metres above sea level the natural forest type is herb-rich beech forest. Other forest types at higher elevations are of beech, fir and spruce. The Arrhenatherion, Molinion, Hyperico perforaci-Scleranthion perennis alliances and others can be found here. Common plants in the forests include mountain snowbell (Soldanella montana) and interrupted club-moss (Lycopodium annotinum). Forest-free areas are populated by Willemetia stipitata  of the aster family and the black rampion (Phyteuma nigrum) and at higher elevations Hungarian gentian (Gentiana pannonica), lousewort (Pedicularis sylvatica) and marsh lousewort (Pedicularis palustris). On cultural forest-free areas where the original montane meadow soil is undisturbed there are populations of broad-leaved marsh orchid (Dactylorhiza majalis), elder-flowered orchid (Dactylorhiza sambucina), lesser butterfly orchid (Platanthera bifolia), fragrant orchid (Gymnadenia conopsea) and other orchid species. In the Olšina peat bog we can find the Siberian leopard plant (Ligularia sibirica) and labrador tea (Ledum palustre). In all of the PLA territory’s peat bogs common species include round-leaved sundew (Drosera rotundifolia), common butterwort (Pinguicula vulgaris), bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), cowberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea), bog whortleberry (Vaccinium uliginosum) and also the cranberry Oxycoccus palustris. The mountain and valley raised bogs are covered by dwarf spruce growths or various kinds of dwarf pine (Pinus mugo) growths. Among the most important localities with dwarf pines is the Vltava valley with its Velká niva peat bog. The localities Šmauzy or Nový Brunst near the spring of the Křemelná river are mountain peat bogs with spruce and dwarf pine stands. The primeval forests of spruce and dwarf pine stands. The primeval forests of spruce or of mixed composition are also typical for the PLA territory. The Boubínský prales primeval forest is the most famous but primeval forest stands can also be found at Černý les, Jezerní hora and Milešický prales.

Lichens belonging to several different geographical groups can be found on the PLA territory. Species of naturally forest-free areas, boreal to Arctic-Alpine species such as Ophioparma ventosa or even sub-Atlantic species such as the shield lichen Heterodermia speciosa can be found in Šumava. We can also find lichens which are typical for spruce and pine forests such as bitter tube lichen ( Hypogymnia bitteri)or the tuckermannopsis lichen Cetraria sepincola. During the second half of the 20th century the previously common old man’s beard lichens (Usnea Sp.) nearly became extinct, but are becoming more common again e.g.  Usnea longissima, Usnea ceratina and others.

Šumava is an important locality for decay fungi. Unusual or unique species found here include the shelf fungus Amylocystis lapponica, the bracket fungus Phellinus ferrugineo-fuscus and others. Due to the damp climate and shady forests large quantities of fungi, from large and eye-catching species to tiny, inconspicuous ones can be found in all of the Šumava forests. A notable species is the shelf fungus Diplomitoporus flavescens, which can be found here alongside many types of boletus, russula and amanita fungi.

Vascular plants

Forest tree species
Forest ecosystems cover more than 60 % of the Šumava PLA territory. However, not all forest ecosystems are registered as forested land, because some have formed spontaneously on uncultivated agricultural lands (around 10 % of the PLA territory). As well as the ancient forest formations with trees up to 500 years old, such as the Boubínský prales primeval forest, there are also forests registered as commercial forests where trees are still felled. In these commercial forests of a primeval character, individual trees can be up to 400 years old, but are more often 150 – 300 years old. Due to the soil, geological and climatic conditions, Šumava is home to predominantly spruce forests. Many forests which are thought to be spruce monocultures are in fact natural forests formed after regeneration felling, from formerly grazed forests or by natural seeding. In growths which are more than 80 years old, their age composition represents a population wave of 50 to 150 years in length. Forestry management over the last 300 years has left its evidence on the areas forests. At first, the forest timber was felled to supply the glassworks and to produce potash and charcoal, and later timber from Šumava was exported all over central Europe to meet the demand for a raw material which was in short supply. The technical revolution of the 20th century attempted to transform the forests into “timber production factories”. However, due to the political situation but also the unsuitable natural conditions, the 20th century only had a minor influence on the structure of Šumava’s commercial forests.

In the Šumava forests the main tree species is Norway spruce (Picea abies), which would make up 30 – 40 % of a natural forest here, but currently contributes around 70 %, beech (Fagus sylvatica) would reach 40 % in a natural forest structure but is currently around 15 % and also silver fir (Abies alba). At lower elevations, on sandy soils and on the peat bogs Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) plays an important role. Central European lichen Scots pine forest or Scots pine forests with cowberry can be found on the slopes of canyon-like valleys at 500 – 600 metres above sea level. Pines dominate these forests but we can also find spruce, oak, juniper and fir in the species composition. At higher elevations spruce becomes the dominant species, with beech or fir in the composition only in some localities. Fir stands are typical for the north–west part of the territory and also in the Otava and Blanice canyons. Beech forests are mostly found in the Upper Vltava river valley, around Mt. Boubín and in the Boletice area. In natural forest stands we can often find secondary species such as sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus), wych elm (Ulmus glabra) – which is less frequent since the Dutch elm disease calamity in the 1970’s, rowan (Sorbus aucuparia), wild cherry (Prunus avium), European ash (Fraxinus excelsior) and the European aspen (Populus tremula). Common shrubs include bilberry, in more fertile areas vlack-berried honeysuckle (Lonicera nigrum), mezereon (Daphne mezereum) and the hazel (Corylus avelana), which can be found at elevations of up to 900 metres. Less common shrubs include the bird cherry (Prunus padus), guelder rose (Viburnum opulus), alder buckthorn (Frangula alnus), elder (Sambucus nigra) and red-berried elder (Sambucus racemosa). On abandoned agricultural lands and in the wetlands we can find silver birch (Betula pendula) and downy birch (Betula pubescens) as well as a whole range of sillows, including eared willow (Salix aurita), bay willow (Salix pentandra), crack willow (Salix fragilis) and more rarely dark-leaved willow (Salix nigricans) and creeping willow (Salix rosmarinifolia). We can find waterlogged or peaty spruce growths at elevations lower than 1 200 m, but above this line the forests consist only of climax spruce stands with scattered rowan. Even in these high-level spruce stands we can find trees which typically live much lower, such as beech which grows here in a dwarf, bushy form or the highest occurrence of firs in the Czech Republic at 1 340 m.

In addition to these geographical native species, we can also find populations of tree species which were introduced here over the last 200 years, especially the European larch (Larix decidua). There are also much smaller numbers of Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesti) or grand fir (Abies grandis) growing in Šumava.