Grasslands

The dry, limestone meadows are located on the south-western slopes of Papuk. The meadow ground is rather shallow and dry. Limestone meadows have a very rich flora and are habitat for numerous rare species, like orchids, ophrys insectifera, small orchids and the Pannonian clover (Trifolium pannonicum).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe area Turjak – Mališćak – Pliš – Lapjak, includes isolated habitats of the continental karst, with single open meadow habitats in which a specific, rare and endangered herbaceous flora has developed, such as the blue windflower, gentle snake´s head (Fritilaria orientalis), Phyteuma orbiculare and leopards bane (Doronicum orientale).

The botanical very valuable area of Turjak ist the habitat of the smallest lizard in Croatia – ivanjski rovaš (Ablepharus kitaibelii).

Moist meadows cover very small aereas, but are habitat for one of the endangered plant sorts in Croatia pulmonary gentian (Gentiana pneumonanthe), and the swamp pumice (Phengaris alcon alcon) – a critically endangered and strictly protected butterfly.

Because of its interesting and complex life cycle, the swamp pumice was always subject to many researches. Namely, this butterfly exists only in a determined type of habitat – moist meadows, where their feeder plant, the pulmonary gentian (Gentiana pneumonanthe) is growing, or lesser the forest gentian (Gentiana asclepiadea), and where the ants hosts of the kind Myrmica are present.   Grown swamp pumices appear during July and August, when they after being fertilized lay their eggs on the sustainer plant. After about ten days little caterpillars are braking out of the eggs and crawl into the blossom, where they are feeding from parts of the plant. After about three weeks, at a warm evening, when the OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAactivities of the ants are the liveliest, the caterpillar bites its way out of the flower and alights on a silken thread down to the ground. On the rear part of its body it exudes a sweet fluid that attracts the ants, why they carry it to their anthill. Inside the anthill, the ants treat the caterpillars as their own larvae – they feed and clean them. As larvae the caterpillars spent about seven to eight months in the anthill and in spring they create their cocoon near the exit of the anthill. After one month, most often in July, grown butterflies leave the cocoons. In Croatia this sort was noticed first in 2004 in the National Park Plitvice lakes, and after that on just two other localities in the continental and mountain part of Croatia, one of these localities is the Nature Park Papuk.

Today the whole grasslands ecosystem is in danger to disappear, because of the loss of the traditional low intensive farming, based on mowing and grassing of those grasslands. Meadows and pastures where there are bushes and thicket are not a suitable habitat for the grassland species.