Djerdap is not only a unique geological, geomorphologic and hydrological phenomenon, but also one of the most significant and northern European refugiums of the arctoteric, first of all, forest flora and vegetation that have found a safe haven here during the Ice Age.
The Djerdap Gorge is one of the most beautiful gorges in Europe. It consists of three gorges and two canyons connected by three valleys. It is the largest and oldest water breakthrough connecting the water basins of the west and east.
In the area of Djerdap National Park there is a recorded presence of 13 species of tertiary relics (Berberis vulgaris, Celtis australis, Comandra elegans, Cotinus coggygria, Hedera helix, Ilex aquifolium, Juglans regia, Ostrya carpinifolia, Ruscus aculeatus, Ruscus hypoglossum, Staphylea pinnata, Syringa vulgaris, Taxus baccata). Tertiary relics compose 1.28% of the total number of all species if the explored area.
Pertinent relic and endemic species found in the Balkans which grows across Djerdap Gorge, especially on steep calcareous slopes of Miroc and lateral canyons of Danube tributaries, would be lilac (Syringa vulgaris). Its most typical habitat are steep calcareous slopes where forest cannot thrive, so that lilac composes thick and impervious shrub formations, which are known in the scientific literature as shrubbery. Lilac shrubbery are not only a natural value, but also an ornament of entire Djerdap Gorge.
Presence of a large number of tertiary relics is explained by the role of Djerdap Gorge and its steep calceraneous slopes as the refuge for ancient tertiary medieval forest fauna. While fleding away from ice age, herbal species found safe habitat precisely in the deep and wide Djerdap Gorge, damp so called “Djerdap climate“ without severe temperature fluctuations and reduced climatic extremes.
Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)
Nettle tree (Celtis australis)
Walnut (Juglans regia)
Turkish hazel (Corylus colurna)
Butcher’s broom (Ruscus hypoglossum)
Holly (Ilex aquifolium)
Endemics in the Balkans
Across Balkanic endemics, there an identified presence of 14 species (Acanthus hungaricus, Acer hyrcanum subsp. Intermedium, Betonica scardica, Campanula sparsa subsp.sphaerotrix, Cytisus procumbens, Genista subcapitata, Viola macedonica subsp. мacedonica, Eryngium palmatum, Cerastium rectum subsp.rectum, Heliosperma pusillum subsp.moehringiifolia, Trifolium dalmaticum, Trifolium medium subsp.balcanicum, Sesleria latifolia I Festuca panciciana) which composes 2.56% of the total of 547 endemic plant taxons in Serbia.
Flora of the explored Dherdap area with its 1.013 species and subspecies composes somewhat more than a quarter of the entire flora in Serbia.
Djerdap NP with its surroundings is marked as the area of international importance for preserving plants i.e. the so called IPA area, because of its refuge properties and existence of large diversity of plants of various origin, which exceeds by nearly 1,584 ha the surface of the park.
Provided to the complex of ecological factors, which persisted in continuity ever since Pliocene up until nowadays, complex, diverse and rich forest and shrub vegetation has evolved in the Djerdap Gorge. There is the identified total of 57 forest and shrub communities in Djerdap. A large difference is present when comparing forest vegetation on silicates in valleys and limestone in gorges and canyons. Prominent characteristic of vegetation is the presence of relic forest communities consisted of: walnut, hackberry, Turkish hazel, mountain beech, lilac and other species.
Out of 37 woody species, significant relics are Turkish hazel, walnut and hackberry, which is a typical mediterranean species. Due to its warm calcarneous ground and specif mild climate, Djerdap area represents a small еnclave of mediterranean and submediterranean flora, where aside from hackberry, such species as field maple, oriental hornbeam, downy oak, smoketree and other species found their habitat.
One of rare evergreen trees, which indigenously grows in this area, is yew tree which is additionally being a relic and a very rare endangered species. Specific relics of dendroflora are evergreens and bushes: holly, daphne laurel and double tongue.
Vegetation of rock
What proves that nature takes care on its own of creating maximum quality of conditions for evolving plant species are Djerdap calcarneous rocks covered in vegetation which thrives for its position in ecosystem and settles such places which ensure suitable habitat, dampness and naturally, maximum light. Samples of herbaceous plants are in queastion which occur individually in the crevices of limestone.
We can mention a variant of cress (Erysimum commatum), Alyssum petraeum, bellflower (Campanula crassipes) and shrub and semishrub formations such as yew tree (Taxus baccata).
Bevan’s variety (Geranium macrorrhizum)
Celandine (Chelidonium majus)
Bellflower (Campanula crassipes)
Maidenhair spleenwort (Asplenium)
Yew (Taxus baccata)
Djerdap National Park and its surroundings, is characterised by a specific, modified climate in its gorges, canyons and ravines with increased relative air humidity and reduced climatic extremes, which provides sufficient warmth in the summertime and properly distributed precipitation throughout the year.
All of the mentioned contributes to the phenomenon that Djerdap and its surroundins possess amll enclaves od submediterranean and mediterranean plant species, such as: field maple, oriental hornbeam, smoketree, hackberry, rustyback, etc.
Hackberry (Celtis australis), a typical mediterranean species, which reaches the north most peak in Djerdap, and can be found across the Balkans, is a typical dendroflora relic.
Rustyback (Ceterach officinarum)
Nettle tree (Celtis australis)
Endangered and extinct
Presence of the total of 83 plant taxons has been identified in the exlored area of Djerdap, which are rare and endangered in the flora of Serbia and due to their endangered status are also found in the ”Prelimenary Red List of Flora of Serbia“.
Fifteen plant species are recorded which are part of the ”Red Book of Flora of Serbia 1“, wherein three taxons have disappeared from the area of Djerdap (Veronica bachofenii, Crocus banaticus and Tulipa hungarica). These species have disappeared due to the floods of their habitats in the process of building a hydroelectric power station and forming a water reservoir.
Within internationally significant plant species, presence of 12 taxons has been recorded. The same number is also in the list of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES-Washington, 1973).
Balkan crocus (Crocus banaticus)
Djerdap tulip (Tulipa hungarica Borbas)