General characteristics fo the flora and vegetation of Bulgaria

Bulgarian vascular flora consists of more than 3800 species of 886 genera and 153 families. The high plant diversity is determined by many factors: first of all the geographical position allowing the distribution of diverse floristic elements on a relatively restricted territory: Central-European, Mediterranean, Orientaloturanic, Pontic, Steppe, Pannonian, etc.; the variety of the geomorphology and the relief, with altitudes from 0 up to 3000 m, with diverse mountain ridges. A lot of Tertiary relict species has been preserved in this part of the country, which is an ancient land, rested also by-passed by the Neogene glaciation.


The richest of species families are the Aster (Asteraceae) - 464 species, the Bean (Fabaceae) - 287 species and the Grass (Poaceae) - 316 species, followed by the Rose (Rosaceae), Pink (Caryophyllaceae), Mustard (Brassicaceae), Parsley (Apiaceae) and Mint (Lamiaceae) families.
The Bulgarian flora is characterized by relatively high percentage of endemics in comparison to other European countries. There are 170 Bulgarian endemic species (4.86% of the flora) and 100 subspecies, which are totally 8% of the Bulgarian flora. The number of the Balkan endemics is also high (200 species and subspecies), part of which most probably have been evolved on the territory of Bulgaria and have been later distributed.

The endemic group is heterogene regarding the age of the endemic taxa. The relict endemics (with Tertiary origin) and the old palaeoendemic species are mainly with lowland distribution in compliance with their thermophilous nature, which is a result of their evolving in much warmer climate. These species have no relationships on the Balkan peninsula, or have just very distant relations. In contrast to them, the more young and specialized endemics have close related species and subspecies on the Balkan territory. The major part of the Bulgarian endemics belongs to this group.
The most rich in endemic taxa families are - the Aster (Asteraceae) - 38 species and 12 subspecies, the Pink (Caryophyllaceae) - 18 species and 10 subspecies, the Figwort (Scrophulariaceae) - 11 species and 14 subspecies, followed by Rosaceae and Poaceae.
The most rich in endemic species are the genera Centaurea (cornflower), Verbascum (mullein), Anthemis (dog fennel), Silene (catchfly), etc.
The highest species diversity (as well as diversity of endemic taxa) occurs in the floristic regions of the Rhodopes and Stara planina. In the Rhodopes are distributed 39 species of Bulgarian and 56 species of Balkan endemics, in Stara planina - respectively 31 and 36 species.
More than 700 species of vascular plants in Bulgaria (the main part high-mountain endemics) are considered as rare. In the Red Data Book of NR Bulgaria (volume 1. Plants, 1984) 574 species are indicate as plants “of special scientific value”; 31 species of vascular plants are considered as extinct since 1930 and 150 species - as threatened.

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