Gentiana pannonica 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Magnoliopsida Gentianales Gentianaceae

Scientific Name: Gentiana pannonica
Species Authority: Scop.
Common Name(s):
English Hungarian Gentian
Coilantha pannonica G.Don
Gentiana semifida Hoffmanns. ex Rchb.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2013-04-15
Assessor(s): Khela, S.
Reviewer(s): Leaman, D.J., Miller, R.M. & Scott, J.A.
Contributor(s): Bernhardt, K.G. & Turonova, D.
Global and European regional assessment: Near Threatened (NT)
EU 27 regional assessment: Near Threatened (NT)

Hungarian Gentian, Gentiana pannonica, is a rare plant with a restricted distribution in the Eastern Alps and Bohemian Forest. Sub-populations are isolated and the regeneration of the population is limited due to land use changes, particularly abandonment of pastures; populations in secondary habitats show reduced genetic variability, which may affect the ability of the species to adapt to changing conditions in future. Changes in land use have also resulted in declines in the quality and quantity of available habitat. It has been threatened by exhaustive over-collection for its use in the past; it remains unclear if its collection still continues or if it exists in cultivation. The species is threatened in four out of six countries in which it occurs (Austria, Czech Republic, Germany and Switzerland). It is very rare in Italy, where it is known from only one locality; subpopulations in Slovenia are not declining. The population is declining in parts of its range, but stable in others, and it is not known whether overall decline rates approach or exceed 30%. Given its restricted and scattered distribution, the area of occupancy (AOO) may be less than 2,000 km²; it occurs in more than 10 locations but may be considered severely fragmented, as subpopulations are scattered and isolated and seedling establishment limited.

The overall population decline has not been quantified and as the plant has a clonal structure, it is difficult to determine the generation length. It is also difficult to estimate the number of mature individuals, as this species can remain inconspicuous for relatively long periods of time. Based on population surveys across much of its range in the eastern Alps, the population size may be quite low (perhaps as low as 10,000-15,000 mature individuals), but this cannot be confirmed with the information available. This species is listed as Near Threatened, nearly meeting B2ab(iii,v), in both Europe and the EU 27. More precise estimates of its distribution are required to measure AOO with more certainty. It is also strongly recommended to collect detailed population information and decline rates from each country and to re-assess the species when all the data is available. It may then require a higher threat category.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Hungarian Gentian, Gentiana pannonica, is restricted to central Europe (Hofhanzlová and Křenová 2007, Marhold 2011, Ekrtová and Košnar 2012, Ekrtova et al. 2012). The centre of its distribution is in the Eastern Alps in Austria, Germany and Slovenia; it also occurs sporadically in the southern and central Alps (Italy and Switzerland) at elevations over 1,000 metres. In Germany it is found in two small, distinct areas: on the southern border with Austria in the Alps, and a smaller area on the eastern border with the Czech Republic (Bundesamt für Naturschutz 2012). In Italy it is known from one locality, and in Slovenia it is found in several localities. Outside the Alps, it is scattered in the Bohemian Forest in the border region of the Czech Republic, Germany and Austria (though most localities are situated in the Czech part of the mountains), and is rare in the Giant Mountains and the Jesenıky Mountains (Hofhanzlová and Křenová 2007, Ekrtová and Košnar 2012). The latter two occurrences are sometimes considered to be remnants of former cultivations and thus introduced, but it may indeed be native to the Giant Mountains (Ekrtová and Košnar 2012).
Countries occurrence:
Austria; Czech Republic; Germany; Italy (Italy (mainland)); Slovenia; Switzerland
Additional data:
Lower elevation limit (metres):1300
Upper elevation limit (metres):2300
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:In the primary habitats in the Eastern Alps and the Bohemian Forest, Hungarian Gentian occurs in isolated mountain ranges in small and often distant clusters, with few plants scattered over wide areas. It is only found in numerous subpopulations in the secondary habitats of the Bohemian Forest. The populations in the Giant Mountains are very small (Ekrtová and Košnar 2012). The populations of G. pannonica in the Bohemian Forest are isolated from each other and seedlings are rare, though vegetative propagation continues (Hofhanzlová and Křenová 2007).

Subpopulations have been considered threatened but stable in central Europe, where declines are balanced out by increases (Bundesamt für Naturschutz 2012). A survey carried out during 2000-2001 in the Czech Republic, at a study site in the centre of the species’ distribution in the Bohemian Forest, found the subpopulation size to be about 400 leaf rosettes (clumps) over 9 ha, with about 300 flowering stems (Hofhanzlová and Křenová 2007). In Italy it is very rare (Lipman 2009). In Switzerland, there are fewer than 2,500 mature individuals and the subpopulation is declining (Moser et al. 2002). It occurs in no more than 20 localities in the Czech Republic and a few subpopulations have become extinct, though the extant subpopulations are not clearly declining (Grulich 2012). The total number of individuals sampled from twenty subpopulations in fifteen localities in Austria and the Czech Republic was more than 3,265 leaf rosettes and polycormons (Ekrtová and Košnar 2012). In Austria, the main subpopulation in the Alps is not declining, though there are small declining subpopulations in the north-east border with the Czech Republic; it is not reportedly declining in Slovenia (K.-G. Bernhardt pers. comm. 2013).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
All individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Hungarian Gentian is a long-lived hemicryptophyte (a plant with perennial buds situated at or just below the soil surface) that spreads mainly by clonal growth; it is self-compatible, though mainly out-crosses, and is pollinated by bumble bees. It is a sub-Alpine species that colonizes both the primary (relict) and the secondary (semi-natural) habitats near the timberline (Ekrtová and Košnar 2012). It is typical of the east-Alpine flora, found in primary habitats in Alpine and sub-Alpine areas growing on calcareous and silicone bedrock in tall-forb vegetation and grasslands, mixed with scrubs of Pinus mugo or Alnus alnobetula; it is very rare in secondary treeless habitats in the Alps (Ekrtová and Košnar 2012). In the Bohemian Forest in the Czech Republic, the species occupies tall-grass and tall-forb vegetation in the cirques of glacial lakes, stream banks and secondary montane meadows (Hofhanzlová and Fér 2009); regeneration is lower here than in primary habitats due to unfavourable conditions caused by long term lack of grazing disturbances (Ekrtová and Košnar 2012).

Successful seedling recruitment is limited by several factors. Ekrtová and Košnar (2012) found that seedling recruitment was only successful in primary habitats and stream banks in secondary habitats. A high abundance of the herb layer in the secondary montane meadows may be an important factor that prevents successful seedling emergence; in addition, intensity of competition limits establishment and survival of seedlings, while sufficient soil moisture is required for seedling recruitment.

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: A medicinal and aromatic plant, like many other species of Gentiana, this species is rich in bitter-tasting secoiridoid glucosides, which are applied in the treatment of gastrointestinal tract diseases. The roots are applied as a decoction, extract or tincture (Lipman 2009, Skrzypczak et al. 1993). Gentian roots have also been collected for use as medicine and for aromatic preparation of alcoholic drinks (Hofhanzlová and Křenová 2007).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Land use changes, particularly abandonment of pastures, meadows and heaths, prevents seedling establishment and has reduced the regeneration of the population (Ekrtová and Košnar 2012). Low-intensity grazing is important as it repeatedly disturbs the vegetation cover, creates spots of open bare soil, reduces strong competitors in grasslands, and prevents forest establishment. This species has been exhaustively collected on a large scale by professional root diggers for its use, particularly during the 19th century, with collection of up to 200 kg of roots per collector daily (Aubert et al. 2007).

Intrapopulation genetic variation is lower in secondary habitats (where recent conditions seem to be unsuitable for spontaneous seedling recruitment) than in primary habitats, though there is still considerable clone diversity in these sites; this decreased genetic diversity may have resulted from historical processes, such as isolation and population density reduction, followed by bottlenecks during the Holocene (Ekrtová and Košnar 2012). Even if declines in genetic diversity occurred historically, these can limit the species' ability to adapt to changing conditions into the future.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This plant is classified as Endangered in the Czech Republic due to rarity and loss of subpopulations (Holub and Procházka 2000, Grulich 2012). It is also listed as Endangered in Switzerland (EN C2a; Moser et al. 2002), and is threatened (3: gefährdet) in Germany (Bundesamt für Naturschutz 2012). It is listed as endangered on the Austrian Red List, due to declines in the small populations near the border with the Czech Republic (K.-G. Bernhardt pers. comm. 2013). It is protected in Germany under the Federal Nature Conservation Act (Bundesamt für Naturschutz 2012). It is only protected in one Natura 2000 site in Austria (European Environment Agency 2010). Seed is stored in the Germplasm Bank of the Department of Land Ecology of the University of Pavia in Italy (Lipman 2009). The conservation of Hungarian Gentian in its secondary habitats requires the management of succession; restoration of the traditional land use is necessary, particularly for maintaining this species in its secondary habitats (Ekrtová and Košnar 2012).

Citation: Khela, S. 2013. Gentiana pannonica. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T203220A2762403. . Downloaded on 21 January 2017.
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