Molinietum caeruleae meadows belong to the most endangered plant communities in Central Europe, nowadays suffering due to the lack of management. The land abandonment promotes strong secondary expansion of macroforbs, sedges or willows, contributing to decrease of the species diversity. In light of these findings very interesting seems to be the evaluation of the variability of features of populations of rare meadow species. In Poland one of strictly protected plant is Gladiolus imbricatus L. It is a tuberous, clonal plant with sword-like leaves and tall stalks bearing purple flowers collected in one-sided inflorescence.
The studies of spatio-temporal variability of selected features of subpopoulations of Gladiolus imbricatus were carried out in the years 2009– 2011 in Kraków-Kostrze (Southern Poland) in patches of Molinietum caeruleae with different species composition. In Patch I chiefly occurred small meadow species, Patch II was prevailed by shrub willow, Patch III was dominated by tall-growing macroforbs, Patch IV was characterized by substantial share of large-tussock grasses, while Patch V was overgrown by tall rhizomatous grass Phragmites communis. The plant canopy height and ground moisture raised from Patch I, via Patches II, III and IV, to Patch V. Moreover, in all sites the above mentioned parameters increased moderately in consecutive seasons.
The decline of abundance of subpopulations observed in the consecutive years and in the successive patches might be caused by a mortality of individuals, a physical damage of tubers, as well as a prolonged dormancy of genets. The structure of developmental stages were similar in consecutive years but differed significantly among Patches. The increasing trend toward senility noted in successive sites could be an effect of lack of microsites suitable for seedling recruitment or absence of vegetative regeneration. The dimensions of leaf blades, flowering stalks and inflorescences remained similar in the subsequent seasons, but they augmented significantly in the successive patches. The length and the width of capsules did not change significantly between seasons and sites.
Concluding, it might be assumed, that the perspectives for survivability of subpopulations diminish gradually from Patch I, via Patches II, III and IV to Patch V. Simultaneously, it should be pointed out that prospects for persistence in each place steadily decrease in effect of continuous deterioration of site conditions.