Armeria helodes Martini et Poldini
It is a neo-endemic species, originated in the post-ice age from Armeria alpina specimens which came to the lowlands of Friuli during the glacier expansion stage and which were genetically isolated in the resurgence area in the same way asArmeria purpurea was in Bavaria.
Its light pink flowers bloom from the end of April to June on stems without leaves. Its leaves, linear and 5-10 cm long, are located at the base of the stems in thick basal rosettes, whose light colour contrasts with the dark green of the Schoenus nigricans tuftes in the bog.
This species occurs only in the alkaline fens of the Erucastro-Schoenetum association, (including the alliance Caricion davallianae), on peaty soils saturated by the water table, rich in calcium and magnesium. In thise plant association, the species has got a peculiar ecological niche represented by the Schoenus and Molinia clumps, so as to avoid the long flooding periods and, on the other hand, the competition of stronger species in less wet areas.
It had spread since the beginning of the XX century on a compact area of about 6,000 hectares, of which more than 1,000 were suitable for the species, but now it survives only in 7 isolated areas of few hectares each for a total surface of not more than 20 hectares.
The surviving areas of the species, all included in the SCI, are now protected, but their number (regularly counted in a census) is decreasing because of the falling of the water table and of the consequent habitat changes.
Indeed, the species, which is oligotrophic heliophilous and calcicole, is not able to colonize other habitats and it is unable to stand the competition of other species in case of any ecological change in the alkaline fens.
These reasons and the fact that these populations are on the verge of the surviving threshold, separated by insurmountable ecological barriers, lead to the conclusion that the species is in danger of extinction and, therefore, included in the Annex II of the Council Directive 92/43/EEC as a priority species.
G. Bolognini ©