The alliance Festucion valesiacae includes vegetation of continental steppes, dominated by narrow-leaved tussock-forming grasses of the genera Festuca and Stipa. Stands of this alliance occupy south-facing slopes in the warmest and driest areas of Central Europe. They are supported by soils developing usually over base-rich and often calcareous bedrocks. These grasslands are distributed in Russian and Ukrainian steppes as well as in dry areas of south-eastern and Central Europe. At several sites in Central Europe they are relicts of continental steppe, which used to be widespread at low altitudes in the Late Glacial. At many sites these grasslands persisted continuously throughout the Holocene, due to extremely dry local conditions or grazing. Elsewhere the communities of the Festucion valesiacae are of secondary nature, developed after deforestation of semi-dry woodlands. Return of woody vegetation in these secondary dry grasslands after cessation of grazing is retarded or completely prevented by drought.