Vegetation and plant landscape of the Mount Cucco Massif (Central Apennines - Umbria-Marche ridge). It is here presented the phytosociological study of vegetation and the geosynphytosociological analysis of the plant landscape of the Mount Cucco Massif. The studied area is localised along the mountain ridge of the central Apennines between Marche and Umbria. It is spread out for 15 Km with a NW-SE direction: from the Scheggia Gorge in the North, to the Fossato pass in the South while the eastern and western borders are represented by the two depressed areas of the Fabriano plain (Camerino synclinorium) and the Costacciaro basin, respectively. Mount Cucco is in the middle of this area. It reaches the altitude of 1566 m a.s.l representing the highest peak of the whole territory. The relieves are made up of limestone belonging to the formations of the Umbria-Marche stratigraphyc series. As regards the bioclimatic classification, the area belongs to the sub-mediterranean variant of the Temperate Macrobioclimate, within which the two mesomediterranean and supratemperate bioclimatic belts are recognised.
The phyosociological typologies found, belonging to 14 classes of vegetation, are here presented in accordance with their structural characteristics. The following new associations have been described: Rusco hypoglossi-Lauretum nobilis, Daphno laureolae-Rhamnetum fallacis, Centaureo triumfettii-Genistetum radiatae, Carici macrolepis-Seslerietum apenninae, Potentillo cinereae-Brometum erecti, Carici macrolepis-Brachypodietum genuensis, Cardaminetum graecae-monteluccii, Geranio lucidi-Cardaminetum graecae, Solenantho apenninii-Smyrnietum perfoliati, Cirsietum tenoreani-morisiani, Campanulo tanfanii-Potentilletum caulescentis, several new syntaxa can be added to these with a sub-specific level and new variants of existing associations. Furthermore, the new Apennines Cardaminion graecae alliance has been described, belonging to the Geranio purpurei-Cardaminetalia hirsutae order and to the Cardamino hirsutae-Geranietea purpurei class.
The interpretation of the dynamic relationships among the plant associations, has allowed to define the vegetation series, while the integration of these series with the morphological, geolithological and bioclimatic characteristics allowed to define the main plant landscape units.
In the mesotemperate belt, on the Maiolica and Scaglia bianca, rossa and variegata lithologies, the Central-eastern Apennines, climatophilous series of Ostrya carpinifolia (Scutellario columnae-Ostryo carpinifoliae sigmetum) has been found. In the lower supratemperate belt, on the lithologies of Maiolica and Scaglia bianca, the geosigmetum is made up of the central-southern Apennines, climatophilous series of Fagus sylvatica (Lathyro veneti-Fago sylvaticae lathyro veneti sigmetosum) and by the central Apennines, edapho-mesophilous series of Fagus sylvatica and Carpinus betulus (Lathyro veneti-Fago sylvaticae carpino betuli sigmetosum).
In the supratemperate belt, on the calcareous formations belonging to the lithotypes of Calcare Massiccio and Corniola, three series have been recognised: the Apennines central-northern, climatophilous series of Fagus sylvatica (Cardamino kitaibelii-Fago sylvaticae sigmetum) to which is connected the Apennines edaphoxerophilous series of Fraxinus excelsior (Fraxino-Acero obtusati polysticho setiferi sigmetosum). At the highest altitudes of the studied territories, on the lithologies of Calcare Massiccio, the central-northern Apennines edaphoxerophilous series of Genista radiata (Centaureo triumfettii-Genisto radiatae sigmetum) were found.
In the rocky gorges which cross the ridge and interrupt the stratigraphical continuity causing the emergence of the oldest geolithological formations of Corniola and Calcare Massiccio, the geosigmeta made up of several durable coenosis connected each other by chain relationships were described.