10 Insubric dry meadows

Adapted by: P. Schildknecht & C.A. Burga, Geographisches Institut der Universität Zürich, 2008.

Photos: 1. OIKOS2000, 2. Vincenzo Donnarumma, 3. David Ili / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Grasses typical of insubric dry meadows, which love warm and exposed places.


Illustrations: Flora der Schweiz und angrenzender Gebiete; Band 2, 1970; Hess, Landolt und Hirzel, Birkhäuser Verlag. Under permission from Springer Nature.

Insubric dry meadows on Monte Caslano during the flowering of the Golden Aster.


Photo: Museo cantonale di storia naturale

The dry meadows of Monte Caslano owe their origin to the deforestation carried out in the past for agricultural purposes. Unproductive and located in inaccessible south-facing areas, the dry meadows have never been fertilised or irrigated, but mainly used for sheep grazing.


There are insubric dry meadows on Monte Caslano, which are only present in Switzerland south of the Alps. They are characterised by numerous thermophilic plants, which thrive thanks to the mild climate, and by the dominance of bunchgrass, recognisable by its wide inflorescence. The dry meadows of the mountain rest on carbonate rocks (dolomite), which have created the permeable, nutrient-poor soils. This promotes the growth of many specialised plant species, while preventing that of the most common species typical of the rich pastures. The flora of the mountain’s dry meadows contains about 140 species, including many rare, endangered and protected plants. The high floristic diversity offers a favourable environment for a great variety of animals.


Among the invertebrates we find, for instance, many butterflies, whose caterpillars feed specifically on certain plant species, and numerous grasshoppers, which benefit from the high structure of the herbaceous layer, among which, for instance, the rare striated cricket, a species in danger of extinction. This orthoptera in Switzerland is present only in Ticino and the population of Mount Caslano is the most important. The wealth of invertebrates in turn attracts larger animals, such as birds, reptiles and small mammals, for which the dry meadows act as hunting grounds.
Without active protection, the dry meadows of Monte Caslano are destined to disappear due to the advance of the forest. In order to safeguard this valuable habitat, management is therefore carried out with the aim of conserving the environment, with regular clearing and cutting of the vegetation.


Photos: 1. Nicola Schoenenberger, 2 3 4 5 6 7. Museo cantonale di storia naturale, 8. OIKOS2000 Sagl.