• genetic resources;
  • high-altitude restoration;
  • Phleum rhaeticum;
  • seed production;
  • selection;
  • “site-specific” vegetation


“Site-specific” vegetation, that is germplasm ecologically adapted to the prevailing pedoclimatic conditions and native to the target region, is increasingly required in the revegetation of disturbed areas at high altitude. Some key site-specific species have been reported for the Alpine region. Better knowledge is needed on the existing variability of these species, while high seed yield is required to ensure the availability of commercially adequate seed supply. Natural populations of Alpine cat’s tail from the Rhaetian Alps were evaluated for morphology and seed production at a mountain and at a lowland site of northern Italy aiming at (1) identifying possible superior populations for the selection of adapted high-yielding cultivars and (2) verifying whether the seed multiplication of site-specific species could also be undertaken in areas different from those of origin. The germplasm from one valley featured an interesting architecture of traits, representing a possible ideotype for seed production purposes. Individual populations across different valleys also proved to be a valuable source of variation for economically useful traits. A discussion on possible implications of use of nonlocal germplasm sources for restoration purposes is provided. The lowland site gave much lower seed production than the mountain location and experienced outstanding plant mortality after the first summer. The specific site conditions, namely the occurrence of an appreciable level of heat and drought stress in summer and a severe rust infection rather than the altitude per se, limited the suitability of this site for seed production of the alpine germplasm.