Abstract. We analysed the influence of fire on species composition, floristic diversity and indicator values of the vegetation in forests of the Canton Ticino (South Switzerland). Both frequency of fire and time since last fire were taken into account using variance analysis. Results show a strong interaction of these two parameters, i.e. the reaction of the vegetation after a fire depends on the frequency of past fires. A rapid recovery is generally observed after fire, involving both herbaceous and woody species. However, a long-term tendency towards floristic and edaphic impoverishment is observed with increasing frequency of fires. This phenomenon appears to be linked to the progressive dominance of a few fire-tolerant species.