Beta nana 

Scope: Global & Europe
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Magnoliopsida Caryophyllales Chenopodiaceae

Scientific Name: Beta nana Boiss. & Heldr.
Taxonomic Notes: Beta nana Boiss. & Heldr. is a secondary wild relative of cultivated beets, B. vulgaris L. ssp. vulgaris (leaf, garden, fodder and sugar beet groups) (classified in section Nanae Ulbrich) (Frese 2004).

Kadereit et al. (2006) analysed a representative sample of Beta species with 29 nuclear ribosomal ITS1 sequences, as well as four representatives of Hablitzieae as an outgroup and found B. nana to be closely related to species in Beta section Corollinae. They suggested merging Beta section Nanae into section Corollinae.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable D2 ver 3.1
Year Published: 2011
Date Assessed: 2010-04-13
Assessor(s): Frese, L., Maxted, N. & Economou, G.
Reviewer(s): Kell, S.P., Kyratzis, A., Osborne, J., Cuttelod, A. & Nieto, A.
Contributor(s): Kell, S.P.
Beta nana has a very restricted area of occupancy (AOO) (less than 1 km²). It is found at 26 sites but is threatened by overgrazing in some parts of its range and lack of grazing in others. As a high altitude montane species, it may also be affected by climate change. It is therefore assessed as Vulnerable. Active in situ conservation is needed for this species, including population and habitat monitoring and an investigation of the threats posed by grazing regimes and potentially by climate change.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:B. nana is endemic to the mountains of south and central Greece (RBG Edinburgh 1998). The species has been observed on six mountains and at a total of 26 sites; the area of occupancy (AOO) by site ranges from 10 to 10,000 m² (Frese et al. 2009). The total AOO was approximately 0.028 km² in 2005.
Countries occurrence:
Greece (Greece (mainland))
Additional data:
Lower elevation limit (metres):1700
Upper elevation limit (metres):2700
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Passport data from 20 subpopulations of B. nana were recorded by M.F.G. Dale during a collecting mission in Greece in 1980 (filed at the Julius Kühn-Institut (JKI), Quedlinburg, Germany) (Frese 2004). In his report on collection of B. nana in 1981, Dale (1981) reported that the population was stable. Frese et al. (2009) estimated a total of 5,000 plants with the number of plants per site ranging between a few to > 1,000 individuals. The authors found that the subpopulation on Taygetos mountain (the southernmost part of the natural distribution area) was not in good health; however, the population as a whole is thought to be stable—in 2005, the authors found reproducing plants at all localities described by Dale (1980, 1981) and at one additional locality.

Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:B. nana is a high altitude montane species which grows on limestone in areas of short, open turf, often close to snow patches (Strid 1995). It is a perennial hermaphrodite and a self-pollinating inbreeder, which flowers from June to August (Strid 1995). It is an inconspicuous diploid (Frantzén and Gustavsson 1983) plant species, with a small rosette of leaves approximately 10–20 cm in diameter, depending on the fertility of the soil. The plant is said to be self-fertile, producing few seed stalks with 10–25 flowers per spike between June and August. The monogerm seedballs dehisce to the ground in the vicinity of the seed plant while still green.

The general habitat for B. nana is in closed or open depressions with relatively moist soil above 1800 m asl.  The climate at this altitude is cool and moist because clouds often build up around the mountains. The subpopulations are mainly found on ranges facing east or northeast where temperatures are lower during the summer afternoons. Plants also grow in crevices between rocks and in disturbed areas, such as rough tracks or severely grazed open plant communities. The prostrate growth habit protects the head of the storage root from being damaged by grazing animals (Dale 1980, 1981; Frese et al. 2009).  However, it is possible that a certain degree of grazing may keep the associated flora short, thereby promoting the survival of the species. Dale (1980) noted that germination of the seed has proved difficult and assumed that the extremes of temperatures in the natural habitat, leaching of inhibitors, as well as enzymes in the gut of animals, may all play a part in successful germination. 

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: It is a secondary wild relative of and potential gene donor to cultivated beets, B. vulgaris ssp. vulgaris (leaf, garden, fodder and sugar beet groups).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Overgrazing is a threat to this species (Frese et al. 2009), while on the other hand, lack of grazing can also have a negative impact. As a high altitude montane species restricted to limestone habitats, B. nana may also be under threat of rising temperatures due to the effects of climate change.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The genus Beta is listed in Annex I of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

It was listed in the list of rare, threatened and endemic plants in Europe (1982 edition) (Council of Europe 1983), the Red Data Book of Rare and Threatened Plants of Greece (Phitos et al. 1995) and the 1997 IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants (Walter and Gillett 1998) as Rare (R) (not Endangered or Vulnerable, but at risk).

. nana is not currently conserved in situ and for biological reasons (genetic drift) ex situ conservation is not an alternative. So far, only two plant explorations to monitor the species systematically have been organized (Dale 1980, 1981; Frese et al. 2009).

EURISCO reports 31 germplasm accessions held in European genebanks (EURISCO Catalogue 2010).

Active in situ conservation is needed, including population and habitat monitoring and an investigation of the threats posed by grazing regimes and potentially by climate change.

Classifications [top]

0. Root -> 6. Rocky areas (eg. inland cliffs, mountain peaks)
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Action Recovery plan:No
  Systematic monitoring scheme:No
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
  Harvest management plan:No
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:No
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:Yes
In-Place Education
  Subject to recent education and awareness programmes:No
  Included in international legislation:No
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:No
11. Climate change & severe weather -> 11.1. Habitat shifting & alteration
♦ timing:Unknown ♦ scope:Unknown ♦ severity:Unknown ⇒ Impact score:Unknown 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.3. Indirect ecosystem effects
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.3. Indirect species effects -> 2.3.2. Competition

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming & ranching -> 2.3.2. Small-holder grazing, ranching or farming
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Medium Impact: 6 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
2. Conservation Planning -> 2.2. Area-based Management Plan
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.4. Habitat trends

♦  Other (free text)

Bibliography [top]

Council of Europe. 1983. List of rare, threatened and endemic plants in Europe. Council of Europe Publishing, Strasbourg, France.

Dale, M.F.G. 1980. Report on 1980. Survey on B. nana in Greece. Greek Gene Bank, Thessaloniki.

Dale, M.F.G. 1981. Report on 1981. Collection of B. nana in Greece (Supplement to 1980 report). Greek Gene Bank, Thessaloniki.

EURISCO. 2015. EURISCO Catalogue release 1.1.16. Available at:

Frantzén, R. and Gustavsson, L.-Å. 1983. Chromosome numbers in flowering plants from the high mountains of Sterea Ellas, Greece. Willdenowia 13: 101–106.

Frese, L. 2004. Rationale for in situ management of wild Beta species. Crop wild relative 2: 4–7.

Frese, L. 2005. PGR Forum Crop Wild Relative Information System Case Study: Beta nana. Birmingham, UK. Available at:

Frese, L., Hannan, R., Hellier, B., Samaras, S. and Panella, L. 2009. Survey of Beta nana (Boiss. & Heldr.) in Greece. In: L. Frese, C.U. Germeier, E. Lipman and L. Maggioni (compilers). Report of the ECPGR Beta Working Group and World Beta Network. Third joint meeting 8-10 March 2006. Tenerife, Spain, pp. 45–52. Bioversity International, Rome.

IUCN. 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2011.1). Available at: (Accessed: 30 June 2017).

Kadereit, G., Hohmann, S. and Kadereit, J.W. 2006. A synopsis of Chenopodiaceae subfam. Betoideae and notes on the taxonomy of Beta. Willednowia 36: 9–19.

Phitos, D., Strid, A., Snogerup, S. and Greuter, W. 1995. The Red Data Book of rare and threatened plants of Greece. WWF.

RBG Edinburgh. 1998. Flora Europaea. Edinburgh Available at:

Strid, A. 1995. Beta nana Boiss. & Heldr. Chenopodiaceae. In: D. Phitos, A. Strid, S. Snogerup and W. Greuter (eds), The Red Data Book of Rare and Threatened Plants of Greece, pp. 86. World Wildlife Fund, Athens.

Walter, K.S. and Gillett, H.J. (eds). 1998. 1997 IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants. Compiled by the World Conservation Monitoring Centre. IUCN - The World Conservation Union, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Citation: Frese, L., Maxted, N. & Economou, G. 2011. Beta nana. In: . The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2011: e.T169912A6689675. . Downloaded on 16 October 2018.
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