Forest species
 Wetland species
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Forest species


Primula elatior
partially protected species

Wigry National Park (WNP) is situated in the area of mixed forests, whereas the remaining part of lowland Poland is located in the area of deciduous forests dropping leaves before the winter season. This results in rather significant differences between the forest complexes of this region and the rest of the country. One of the most visible differences is the continuous presence of spruce Picea excelsa in the tree stand, as well as the lack of broad-leaved lime Tilia platyphyllos, sessile oak Quercus sesislis and beech Fagus silvatica. The spruce is present here within its northern (boreal) range and it is not only a part of the mixed forests but it is also an admixture to the leafy ones.


The forests cover over 60% of the whole area of WNP. The spatial, specific and age structures of most of them have changed in comparison to the their primeval forms. There are places, however, (islands, steep slopes of river valleys, swamp areas) where the natural forest complexes have been preserved.




Turk’s cap lily (Lilium martagon) begins
to emit the intensively smelling
ethereal oils that attract moths
only in the evening




The most common forest complexes in WNP are the following: red grass dry-ground forest, similar to mixed coniferous forests and covering approximately 30% of the forest area of the Park, sub-boreal coniferous pine forest, covering approximately 25% of the area and the typical dry-ground forest, covering approximately 15% of the forest area of the Park. Different clusters of alder carr and riverside carr are also common and cover approximately 5% of the forest area of the Park.


Among all the forest complexes of the Park, the following coniferous swamp forests and swamp forests retained the most natural characteristics: swamp coniferous forest – often surrounded by the dystrophic lakes or located in terrain hollows without any outlet, Sphagno squarrosi-Alnetum and Ribo nigri-Alnetum wet leafy forests – often located on islands, lake shores and river valleys. Sporadically, patches of the so called spruce-trees growing on peat Sphagno girgensohnii-Piceetum and Circaeo-Alnetum riverside carr are also well preserved.




The flowers of daphne (Daphne mezereum)
appear in March, even before the leaves



Some forms of developed forests, especially those with thinned pine tree stand located in the mixed coniferous forest clusters, are the refuge of numerous protected plant species, particularly thermophilous ones. Southern sweetgrass Hierochloë australis, a partially protected plant included in "The Red List of Vascular Plants Endangered in Poland" with the status of a rare species, is also present in this area. In dry-ground forests, especially in the fertile kind, we can often find Turk’s cap lily Lilium martagon. The drier types of those forests, as well as the mixed coniferous forests, often feature yellow foxglove Digitalis grandiflora. On the boundaries, glades and logged areas of thin leafy forests, one can find the beautifully blooming columbine Aquilegia vulgaris . Riverside carrs, fertile alder carrs and dry-ground forests locally feature the daphne Daphne mezereum.






Fir club-moss (Huperzia selago)
contains strongly poisonous alkaloids
that are harmful to people and animals



Many species of club moss can be found in coniferous forests, especially in the wet ones. The most common representative of club moss is stiff club moss Lycopodium annotinum. Fir club moss Huperzia selago, which grows in very wet places, mostly on shores, is much harder to find. In the drier, sunny coniferous forests one may easily come across cloving club moss Lycopodium clavatum, which is a rare element of the flora of the Park. The other species of club moss, Diphasiastrum complanatum, may be very seldom found in the driest and warmest pine coniferous forests in the southern part of the Park. The swampy, coniferous pine forests that grow on peat bogs feature the abundance of marsh tea Ledum palustre - a partially protected, late-glacial plant relic. The marsh tea is a poisonous plant as its leaves and sprouts contain a volatile, narcotic oil of an intense, dizzying smell that irritates the nervous system.





The flowers of lesser butterfly orchid
(Platanthera bifolia) smell during the night,
as mostly moths pollinate them

An interesting and relatively numerous group of protected plants that grow in the Park are orchids. These usually small plants are hard to find, as they grow in dispersal. The wet alder carrs and riverside carrs feature the beautiful Dactylorchiza Fuchsii, with its pink, speckled leaves. This species of orchid was included in "The Red List of Vascular Plants Endangered in Poland" with a status of an endangered species. The inconspicuous twayblade Listera ovata, with fine, yellow-green flowers is more difficult to come across. Lesser butterfly orchid Platanthera bifolia and bird’s nest orchid Nettioa nidus-avis grow in the fertile and wet leafy forests. The latter is a heterotrophic organism (saprophyte) which does not contain chlorophyll and feeds on decaying, organic remains that it intakes through the soil fungi surrounding its rootstock.


The wet and mossy spruce forests feature creeping rattlesnake plantain, which does not drop its winter green for the winter, even when the temperature reaches –15oC. Lesser twayblade with its egg-shaped leaves and fine, green-red flowers is much harder to find here. Epipactis atrorubens, with its sprout growing sometimes up to 100 cm, and its small, red flowers of vanilla smell, may be quite often found in the dry, thin coniferous pine forests. Another species of orchid, Neottianthe cucullata, listed in "The Red List of Vascular Plants Endangered in Poland" with a status of an endangered species, and in "The Polish Red Book of Plants" with the same status, is extremely rare in this area. It arrived here from the East, most probably during the post-glacial period, when birch-pine forests were still present on this area.