The expansion of human settlements and primary-sector activities (agriculture and forestry) has resulted in the fragmentation of forests, but the impacts of this are still poorly understood. We examined the effect of patch size on the presence of plant functional groups along an edge–interior gradient. Plant species were classified based on a two-way indicator species analysis in order to determine their establishment thresholds and vulnerability along the gradient, while detrended correspondence analyses and canonical correspondence analyses were performed to identify environmental gradients related to vegetation distribution. Two groups of plant species were recognized in all patch sizes: one commonly found towards the edge and the other in the interior zone. The incidence of these groups was correlated with environmental factors associated with the edge–interior gradient, mainly with humidity, soil moisture and light (canopy opening and global site factor) in the edge zone and with litter cover, depth of litter, slope and soil and air temperature in the interior zone. Identifying the species’ threshold responses to fragmentation is key, as they provide tools to prevent the potential local extinction of species.