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Muddy Banks with Annual Vegetation

Short-living plant communities can develop on riverbanks when water levels are low. There species undergo germination, growth and ripening of the seed in a short time. These plant communities on mud or gravel banks are also called muddy bank corridors. They are a habitat of European importance (FFH habitat type 3270) and should also be fostered in the “Lebendige Röhrichte – Reeds for Life” project. The development of muddy bank corridors requires shallow water zones and shallow bank areas that dry up in the summer. Muddy bank corridors can be encouraged by dynamising water levels. This also comprises permitted lower water levels in the summer half of the year, which are typical of river meadow flowing waters. At the same time, this encourages the initial states of reeds - especially cattails.

In the summer of 2018, the muddy bank corridors were especially well developed because of the long drought and the permanently low water levels. On the western bank of the Bienen Old Rhine, various trifid bur-marigold communities (Bidention tripartitae) and dwarf rush communities (Isoeto-Nanojuncetea) covered large areas. Depending on the timing of falling dry, various dominant populations, e.g. golden dock (Rumex maritimus), pale persicaria (Persicaria lapathifolia agg.) or nodding beggarticks (Bidens cernua) developed. In the Old Rhine, they formed an extensive mosaic of wide vegetation belts between the shoreline and the central water areas.

Depending on the water level, the development and form of muddy bank corridors differs greatly. In summers with plentiful rain, only a few plants can germinate due to a lack of pioneer locations.


The project is funded by the LIFE Programme of the European Union.


Characterisitc species include the golden dock (Rumex maritimus) and the nodding beggarticks (Bidens cernua). The nodding beggarticks has very distinctive yellow flowers and, at the fruiting time, it looks as though the heads are nodding. A common grass of the muddy bank corridors of the Bienen Old Rhine in 2018 is the brown galignale (Cyperus fuscus), which owes its name to the black-red bracts around the petals.