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2019 Annual Symposium Excursions Pre-symposium Excursion


If you wish to participate in the excursion, you can express your interest during the registration process or write an email to Martin Diekmann ( As soon as we have made the bookings for buses & accommodation and have calculated the excursion fee, we will contact you and open the registration for the excursion.

Harz and Kyffhäuser pre-symposium excursion

guided by Helge Bruelheide & Ute Jandt

Preliminary programme

10-14 July 2019

Wednesday, 10 July

- Departure from Bremen at 8:30 by bus.
- 11:00 Visit of heavy metal grasslands of the Innerste and Oker rivers north of Goslar (Federal State of Lower Saxony). The slags from former mining activities in the Harz Mountains were carried by the Harz rivers to the forelands of the Harz mountains, where they accumulated mainly downstream in the form of gravel bars. These gravel bars today host the best preserved examples of the Armerietum halleri, the most characteristic plant community for heavy metal vegetation (Violetea calaminarii).
- 13:00 Lunch in Goslar, a town located on the northwestern slopes of the Harz mountain range. The old city centre of Goslar and the mines of Rammelsberg are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Beside lunch, we will have time for a guided city tour.
- 15:00 Excursion to the montane meadows near Braunlage. The Hasselkopf mountain south of Braunlage offers all types of montane grasslands, ranging from meadows (Polygono-Trisetion) to Nardus swards (Violion caninae). We will also visit a nature restoration site, where about 1 ha of montane meadows was translocated to allow building a bypass road for Braunlage.
- In the evening, we will move on to Schierke (Federal State of Saxony-Anhalt), where we will stay for two nights. At 600 to 650 m above sea level in the valley of the River Kalte Bode, Schierke is situated directly on the border on the Harz National Park.
Thursday, 11 July

- 8:30 Ascending the summit of Mt. Brocken, which is the highest peak of the Harz mountain range (1,141 m, 3,743 ft). Mt. Brocken has always played an important role in fairy tales and has been connected with witches and devils. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe took up the legends in his play Faust. We will pass different types of spruce forests and bogs. The ascent will lead us through the core zone of the National Park, which is grown by primary forests, which these days are heavily affected by bark beetle die-back. The summit itself has subalpine vegetation, because heavy winds bring about a local climate that depresses the treeline. The peak tends to have a snow cover from September to May, and mists and fogs shroud it up to 300 days of the year. Among many typical subalpine species, there are some endemic elements such as the Brocken anemone (Pulsatilla alpina ssp. alba) and the Brocken hawkweed (Hieracium nigrescens). We will also visit the Brocken Garden, which was established in 1890 with the purpose of carrying out acclimation studies. Being organized by the Harz National Park and supported by the Botanical Gardens of the Universities of Halle and Göttingen, it harbours more than 1,600 plant species and is devoted to scientific research and restoration of Mt. Brocken’s subalpine flora.
- On the way down back to Schierke we will take the Brocken railway, which is a historic narrow gauge railway (1,000 mm, 3 ft 3 3⁄8 in), run with original steam engines since 1899.
Friday, 12 July

- 8:30 In the morning, we will visit the Rosstrappe, a granite nose, high above the Bode gorge in the Harz Mountains. This allows a splendid view into the gorge. Our way down to the valley bottom along a zigzag path will bring us through oak forests, granite outcrops and scree vegetation. Located in the rain shadow of Mt. Brocken, the vegetation on southern slopes is characterized by numerous thermophilous plant species. At the bottom, we will follow the natural water course of River Bode to Thale, where the bus will pick us up and bring us to Quedlinburg.
- 13:00 lunch in Quedlinburg. Since 1994, the castle, the church and the old city town are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. There will be time to visit the old city centre.
- 15:00 Excursion to the Teufelsmauer (Devil's Wall), a sandstone rock formation of the Upper Cretaceous. The sandy soils are grown by nutrient-poor species-rich Festuca grasslands.
- In the late afternoon, we will go to Bad Frankenhausen (Federal State of Thuringia), where we will stay for another two nights. Bad Frankenhausen (German Bad is for spa) is located at the southern slope of the Kyffhäuser mountain range, on an artificial arm of the Wipper river, a tributary of the Unstrut. Because of the nearby Kyffhäuser monument dedicated to Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, it is nicknamed Barbarossastadt.
Saturday, 13 July

- 8:30 We will start the day with a visit to the Barbarossa Cave (German: Barbarossahöhle), one of the very rare anhydrite caves (gypsum caves) in the Kyffhäuser Hills near Rottleben. It is a cave with large caverns, grottos and lakes. The anhydrite has formed gypsum on the surface due to the air moisture in the cave and, as a result, has increased in volume. The resulting layers of gypsum gradually separate from the underlying rock and hang like wallpaper from the walls and ceilings of the underground caverns.
- Having a picnic lunch on the way, we will walk from the Barbarossa Cave along Gemany’s most famous dry grasslands back to Bad Frankenhausen. We will pass Falkenburg, Breiter Berg, Kosakenberg and Galgenberg. The vegetation consists of a mosaic of dry grasslands, rocky outcrops, forests and fringe vegetation, all brought about by a highly heterogeneous gypsum bedrock. In particular, we will see outposts of continental steppe vegetation (Festucion vallesiacae) as well as semi-dry grasslands (Bromion erecti), epigeous lichen communities (Bunte Erdflechtengesellschaften, Toninion), fringe vegetation (Geranion sanguinei) and Calluna heathlands on locally decalcified soils. Optionally, in the late afternoon we can visit the Schlachtberg with a monumental panorama painting showing the Early Bourgeois Revolution in Germany, also known as the Peasants' War Panorama, painted by Werner Tübke.
Sunday, 14 July

- 8:30 We leave Bad Frankenhausen to visit the near-by Esperstedter Ried, a 500 ha depression without outlet, which came into existence by the leaching of salt layers 300 m belowground. The Esperstedter Ried is the most important inland salt marsh in Thuringia, with about 35 salt marsh plant species growing here.
- Our last stop on our way back to Bremen will be the Ohmgebirge (near Bleicherode) with extensive beech forests (Fagion). We will visit the Sonnenberg castle, a ruin inside the forest.
- Our expected arrival time in Bremen will be around 17:00.

Heavy metal vegetation on a slag heapView from the Brocken, the highest peak in the Harz mountainsBog with Eriophorum
Heavy metal vegetation on a slag heap - View from the Brocken, the highest peak in the Harz mountains - bog with Eriophorum
Calcareous grassland and rock vegetationSpruce forest and montane meadow in the Harz mountainsHarz138.JPG    

Calcareous grassland and rock vegetation - Spruce forest and montane meadow - Pulsatilla alpina subsp. alba

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