RU:Key:plant community

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Description Describes the plant community of a feature.  Group: Properties Used on these elements

Wikidata Search Wikidata Status: unspecified

Tools for this tag

taginfo · GB · IE · IN overpass-turbo

plant_community=* is intended as a general tag for adding more detailed information to areas tagged with one of the more general Vegetation tags.

General Principles

Detailed information on plant communities (phytosociology) is likely to be restricted to a small proportion of OSM contributors. It is therefore inappropriate to ask the general community to make determination of plant communities if they do not have the appropriate knowledge.

Phytosociological information may be used in a variety of different ways:

Add detail of landcover where this is appropriate for other activities (such as orienteering, where coniferous woodland types may present very different terrain. Add detail of ecology for a wide range of ecological purposes, but typically identification of suitable habitat for plants and animals. Provide a means to identify very distinctive plant communities which are used for navigation or similar purposes (e.g., the INT-1 hydrographical convention). Provide a means to identify distinctive plant communities which are rare, unusual, or particularly scenic (e.g., Larch woods in the Alps). Widely used Classifications

This discussion mainly addresses European classifications, which provide a base for a restricted set of major biomes (Tundra, Boreal Coniferous Woodland, Temperate Broadleaved Woodland, Steppe, and Mediterranean). It is important that this should be extended to cover other major biomes so as to spot any obvious pitfalls in the recommended approach.


See Phytosociology. This is probably the most influential and widely used approach in Europe, sometimes called the Zurich-Montpellier school after the two institutions where Braun-Blanquet worked. In principle this can be applied anywhere, but it is undoubtedly eurocentric.


See Corine_Land_Cover for current mapping of the CORINE classes to OSM tags. Also the NBN Habitat directory can be helpful[1]. CORINE is really a landuse/landcover classification, but is potentially a useful starting point.


A more detailed scheme from the European Environment Agency. Details here

UK Phase 1 Habitat Classification

This is a widely used scheme in the UK, developed by the JNCC. For more details, including suggested tags, see Plant Community/UK Phase 1 Habitat Classification.

UK National Vegetation Classification

An classification independently developed for the UK by Rodwell and associates. Although many of the classes can readily be associated with typical associations in the Zurich-Montpellier system the underlying approach is different. One problem with the UK NVC is that it is incomplete in that some native plants and widespread introduced plants are not assignable to specific communities. Many communities are described on NBN and wikipedia [2].

For more details see Plant Community/British National Vegetation Classification

In order to develop the tagging concept the following table lists a number of NVC communities and initial thoughts about how they can be tagged.

NVC Category NVC Ref NVC Name Current likely OSM Tagging Extended tagging for phytosociology Remarks Woodland & Scrub W6 Alnus glutinosa - Urtica dioica woodland natural=wood and/or landuse=forest plant_community=alder_woodland plant_community:gb:nvc=Alnus glutinosa - Urtica dioica woodland plant_community_ref:gb:nvc=W6 plant_community_taxon=Salicion albae Typical riparian woodland of lowland rivers in Europe Woodland & Scrub W10 "Quercus robur - Pteridum aquilinum - Rubus fruticosus woodland" natural=wood and/or landuse=forest plant_community=oak_woodland plant_community:gb:nvc=Quercus robur - Pteridum aquilinum - Rubus fruticosus woodland plant_community_ref:gb:nvc=W10 plant_community_taxon=Quercion petrae Oak woodland with bracken and bramble undergrowth. Woodland & Scrub W21 Crataegus monogyna - Hedera helix scrub natural=scrub or natural=woodland plant_community=hawthorn_scrub plant_community:gb:nvc=Crataegus monogyna - Hedera helix scrub plant_community_ref:gb:nvc=W21 Classic hawthorn scrub with patches of ivy in the ground layer. May be perceived as woodland rather than scrub by mappers. Woodland & Scrub W25 Pteridium aquilinum - Rubus fruticosus underscrub no obvious tags in use, but natural=bracken may be suitable plant_community=bracken plant_community:gb:vc=Pteridium aquilinum - Rubus fruticosus underscrub plant_community_ref:gb:nvc=W25 Bracken apparently covers about 1% of the Earth's landarea, it should therefore be mapped! Mesotrophic Grasslands MG7 Lolium perenne leys and related grasslands a variety of tags might indicate this : landuse=grass, or landuse=farmland with crop=*, or landuse=meadow plant_community=grass_ley plant_community:gb:nvc=Lolium perenne leys and related grasslands plant_community_ref:gb:nvc=MG7 Leys are areas of permanent grassland which are periodically re-sown and in modern agricultural management will have extensive addition of fertiliser. They tend to be very species poor. They are not used for pasturage but for crops of hay or wet grass for silage. US National Vegetation Classification


Outline of Suggested Approach

It is suggested that the core tag plant_community=* only be used with terms which should be clear to all contributors. Thus they might comprise a dominant plant with the principle biome, as in plant_community=oak_woodland or plant_community=mesotrophic_grassland. Additional detail including technical phytosociological names or specific classifications can then be added using either adjectival tagging or name spacing of the plant_community=*: e.g., plant_community=alder_woodland alder_woodland=Salicion albae or plant_community:uk_nvc=W6a.

Guidebooks and reference works

Anyone contemplating this tagging approach is likely to be fairly experienced with plant identification. Typical reference works covering plant communities in NW Europe are listed below.

Guide des groupements végétaux de la région parisienne Ellenberg's Vegetation Mitteleuropas mit den Alpen A true classic (last and 5th edition). the 4th edition was translated into English and in part can be read on Google Books. Rodwell's NVC series Die Pflanzengesellschaften Deutschlands (Uni-Taschenbücher L), Richard Pott Pflanzensoziologische Exkursionsflora: Für Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete, Oberdorfer Bestimmungsbuch der Pflanzengesellschaften Deutschlands Rudolf Schubert et al, Spektrum Verlag Related Tags habitat=* tag proposal taxon=* tag proposal Related Projects Invasive_Non-Native_Species Environmental_OSM