CHANIA (Prefecture) CRETE
The climate and the configuration of the land make the county of Hania a paradise for thousands of plants and animals. The lilys of the sea (pancratium maritimum), the lavdano (lavdanum), the cyclamen (cyclamen creticum), the Cretan tulips (tulipa cretica), the maple (acer creticus) and chiefly the endemic and unique dittany (origanum dictamum) and malotira (fideritis cretica), which, with matzourana (origanum maiorana), are medicinal boiling plants which are abundant. On the plain of Omalos you can find stamnagathi (cihorium spinosum).
Dried or freshly cut, these special medicinal verbs can be found in the Public Market or local shops.
You can find over 200 unique Cretan plants, 30% of which exist only in the county of Hania.
(Text: Dr. Anastasia Kalpaki-Georgoulaki)
This text (extract) is cited December 2003 from the Chania Prefecture Tourism Committee tourist pamphlet (2002)
SAMARIA (National Park) CHANIA
Among the well-known flora species, you find the perennial gigantic cyresses once used in shipbuilding and the construction of the pillars of the Palace of Knossos by the Minoans, etc.
There is a total of 450 species of Cretan flora in the gorge, of which 70 are endemic, i.e. they grow in the gorge only.
(Text: Antonis Plymakis)
This text (extract) is cited February 2004 from the Chania Prefecture Tourism Committee tourist pamphlet.
There is still another distinction, which ought not to be omitted,--the
fact, that many of the odoriferous plants never enter into the composition of
garlands, the iris and the saliunca, for example, although, both of them, of a
most exquisite odour. In the iris, it is the root only that is held in esteem,
it being extensively employed in perfumery and medicine. The iris of the finest
quality is that found in Illyricum,
and in that country, even, not in the maritime parts of it, but in the forests
on the banks of the river Drilon and near Narona.
The next best is that of Macedonia,
the plant being extremely elongated, white, and thin. The iris of Africa occupies
the third rank, being the largest of them all, and of an extremely bitter taste.
The iris of Illyricum comprehends two varieties--one of which is the raphanitis, so called from its resemblance to the radish, of a somewhat red colour, and superior in quality to the other, which is known as the "rhizotomus." The best kind of iris is that which produces sneezing when handled. The stem of this plant is a cubit in length, and erect, the flower being of various colours, like the rainbow, to which circumstance it is indebted for its name. The iris, too, of Pisidia is far from being held in disesteem. Persons who intend taking up the iris, drench the ground about it some three months before with hydromel, as though a sort of atonement offered to appease the earth; with the point of a sword, too, they trace three circles round it, and the moment they gather it, they lift it up towards the heavens
The iris is a plant of a caustic nature, and when handled, it causes blisters like burns to rise. It is a point particularly recommended, that those who gather it should be in a state of chastity. The root, not only when dried, but while still in the ground, is very quickly attacked by worms. In former times, it was Leucas and Elis that supplied us with the best oil of iris, for there it has long been cultivated; at the present day, however, the best comes from Pamphylia, though that of Cilicia and the northern climates is held in high esteem. (Pliny Nat. 21.19)
The following peculiarities we find mentioned with reference to the truffle. When
there have been showers in autumn, and frequent thunder-storms, truffles are produced,
thunder contributing more particularly to their developement; they do not, however,
last beyond a year, and are considered the most delicate eating when gathered
in spring. In some places the formation of them is attributed to water; as at
Mytilene, for instance, where
they are never to be found, it is said, unless the rivers overflow, and bring
down the seed from Tiara, that being the name of a place at which they are produced
in the greatest abundance. The finest truffles of Asia are those found in the
neighbourhood of Lampsacus
and Alopeconnesus; the best
in Greece are those of the vicinity of Elis. (Pliny Nat.19.13)
KYLLINI (Mountain) CORINTHIA
Image made of, sacrifices to Aphrodite burnt with juniper wood. Also Homer Od. 5,60: But when he had reached the island which lay afar, then forth from the violet sea he came to land, and went his way until he came to a great cave, wherein dwelt the fair-tressed nymph; and he found her within. A great fire was burning on the hearth, and from afar over the isle there was a fragrance of cleft cedar and juniper, as they burned
DIKTI (Mountain) LASSITHI
Also called Dittany of Crete because it comes from the isle of Crete. . . One of the ornamental oreganos, Dittany is best known for its papery pink bracts which make excellent everlastings, but it also makes a nice addition to rock gardens or ornamental beds that are on the dry side. Its round, very fuzzy gray leaves are the perfect canvas for many the 6 to 8 inch flower stalks that appear in summer.
DODEKANISSOS (Island complex) GREECE
Forests and bush lands of pine, cypress, wild olive, cedar, mastic, arbutus bush and holly together with a variety of annual and long lasting turf, aromatic plants (oregano, thyme, lavender), carob and olive trees, all make for a rich mosaic of plant varieties.
Often on the islets unique plant and animal species have been observed (especially reptiles and invertebrate), remnants of an isolated evolution and adaptation to the unique conditions, which were created when these islets were cut off from the larger islands
Every single island and islet is of itself a unique natural museum. This of course favours the development of special types of tourism. For example only the island of Kasos boasts 450 plant species, which is more than exist in the whole of Holland.
(Text: Manolis Makris)
This text (extract) is cited February 2004 from the Dodekanissos Union of Municipalities & Communities pamphlet.
IKARIA (Island) NORTH AEGEAN
Due to the arrangement of the main mountainous mass of Pramnos (Atheras), running from the east to the west of the island, particular climatic conditions hold. In the northern part of Ikaria, where Evdilos and most villages are to be found, there is thick growth, while in the southern the climate is dry and there are imposing rock formations.
On the entire northern side of the island the visitor will come across many creeks and streams running into the sea creating small lakes near the shores (Ares, Kambos, Gialiskari, Nas). In the interior, there are small ravines of enchanting beauty.
The flora of Ikaria not only does exhibit species found on nearby islands but also exhibits many species not found elsewhere, such as Paionia, Dactylida, Roripa and Symphyto. Vegetation has now decreased compared to the past. Even so, in the mountainous northern part of the island there are significant ecosystems such as the forests of Rantis and Raches.
According to studies, there are more than 100 species of trees and shrubs on the island. The most significant are Pine, Oak, Arios, Holm Oak, Chestnut, Arbute (Koumaria), Cedar, Plane, Andrachlos. The greatest part of the island is covered with the Mediterranean “makia” growth, which consists of lentisk, erica, anama, thyme, akisare and astivi.
As regards the varieties of the cultivated vine, the “Fokiano” dominates. There are varieties of fig, walnut and apricot trees. A broad-leaved plant called “kolokasi” grows in creeks, the bulbs of which can be boiled and eaten.
This text (extract) is cited January 2004 from the Evdilos Municipal Cultural Organization tourist pamphlet.
LESVOS (Island) NORTH AEGEAN
The soil and the climate of the island have given Lesvos an unusually rich flora to which it owes its beauty, the beauty that Sappho, the famous lyric poetess (6th century BC), sung. The Lesvian philosopher Theophrastus (3rd century BC), one of the forefathers of Botany, was the first to record a large number of plants. Today, 1,400 taxa (species and sub-species) of plants have been recorded on the island making Lesvos a "botanic paradise": aromatic, pharmaceutical, ornamental and rare plants, bushes and trees. Although western Lesvos, with the exception of some small plains is barren, the eastern, southern and central parts are cloaked in olive groves (11 million olive trees) and forests of pine chestnut, oak, beech and plane trees.
The Rhododendron Luteum Sweet is found only in Lesvos. It is a deciduous bush, with an average height of 4.5 m, with big, yellow flowers and lanceolate leaves. It grows in humid, clay and sandy soils at an altitude ranging from 60 m. to 799 m. (the top of Mt Profitis Ilias) above sea level. It is accompanied by the species: laurel (Nerium oleander), willow (Salix fragillis), arbutus (Arbutus unedo), fern (Pteris aquillina), ivy (Hedera helix), chestnut tree (Castanea sativa) and others.
This extract is cited May 2003 from the Prefecture of Lesvos URL below, which contains images.
RETHYMNO (Prefecture) CRETE
As well as trees and plants, which can also be found in other regions of Greece and the wider Mediterranean area, there are a large number of plants endemic to the island. This can be explained by the geological isolation of the island, which has facilitated the development of local species since ancient times. Out of an estimated number of 2000 species of plants 160 are endemic and grow exclusively on the island. Unfortunately, compared to periods of the past, the vegetation of today has been diminished to a large degree. Mountains which previously had lush vegetation such as Psiloritis and Ida (which was planted with trees) are today almost bare mainly due to uncontrolled pasturing of sheep and goats, and fire. At the same time the few areas of flat land had to be used for agricultural farming, and in some coastal areas green-houses were built with the result that the flora and fauna has been restricted to a large degree and many rare species of plants today are in danger of extinction. Since the development of the flora depends on the temperature and the morphology of the terrain, its classification is based on altitude, which influences the above-mentioned factors.
Thus in the coastal area humidity and the salty air of the sea favour plants such as the sea lily (Pancratium maritimum) the tamarisks (Tamarix cretica) and the famous Cretan palm (Phoenix theofrastii).
In the area of flat land, which goes up to a height of 300 m, the Mediterranean macchie can be found including lentisk (Pistacia lentiscus), holm-oak (Quercus coccifera), oleander (Nerium oleander), Vitex agnus-castus, camomile (Chamomilla recutita), mint (Mentha spicata), myrtle (Myrtus communis), heather (Erica), Daucus carota, wild celery (Smyrnium), hollyhock (Alcea pallida cretica), the common poppy (Papaver rhoeas), Cistus incanus-creticus, as well as Cretan ebony (Ebenus cretica).
The semi-mountainous area goes up to a height of 800m approximately and includes shrubbery such as the holm-oak (Quercus coccifera), the lentisk (Pistacia lentiscus), thyme (Thymus capitatus), the Arbutus unedo, the Phlomis cretica, the maple-tree (Acer sempervirens), the bryony (Bryonia cretica), the Spartium junceum, the Styrax officinalis, and many others. Wild flowers include Cretan cyclamen (Cyclamen creticum), iris (Iris cretica), Dracungulus, gladiola (Gladiolus italicus), tulips (Tulipa orphanidea), hyacinth (Muscari commosum), various species of Cretan orchids as well as locust-trees (Ceratonia siliqua) and oak-trees (Quercus).
The area between 800 and 1800 m of height is known as the mountainous area. Here we meet holm-oaks (Quercus coccifera), the Cretan maple-tree (Acer sempervirens) as well as shrubs and wildflowers such as yellow violets (Erysimum creticum), tulips (Tulipa cretica), wild Cretan wormwood (Achillia cretica), wild violets (Viola cretica), crocuses (Crocus oreocreticus) and many others.
Of particular interest is the flora of the gorges, which reveals a splendid array of wild flowers and shrubs, many of which are rare species and endemic to the island. They have been preserved from human intervention, because access to this area is difficult and therefore the environment has maintained its original wildness. Here you can see the entire spectrum of species referred to in the above-mentioned areas, since the gorges start in the mountainous and semi-mountainous area and end up at sea level. Furthermore, if you are lucky, you might also come across the famous Cretan Diktamo (Origanum dictamus).
Finally, in marshy areas, which develop in the coastal zones where rivers empty into the sea as for example at the Lagoon of Preveli, you can find the Cretan palm-tree (Phoenix theophrastii), which is also endemic to Crete.
Archaeological records as well as historical sources give evidence
of the fact that the history of Crete is closely connected with the olive tree
and with its basic product of olive oil. Archaeological findings from Knossos
have proved that as early as the Minoan period the fruit of the olive tree was
processed in order to produce olive oil, which was stored in large earthenware
jars and amphorae and often exported to the Aegean islands and to the Greek mainland.
However, apart from for the economic profit the tree provided, it was also worshipped as a sacred tree and the olive oil was offered to the gods and to the dead. It was also used for medical and athletic purposes, while in ever day life it was used as the basic component for nourishment, lighting and heating. Thus, from ancient times up until now the olive tree and its blessed fruit have been the symbol of wisdom, of peace, of health and of power. During recent years international medicine and dietetics recommend olive oil as being essential for healthy nutrition and a long life. Due to its Mediterranean climate Crete is predetermined for the development of olive trees, which grow in both valleys and mountainous areas and fruit in winter. There are millions of olive trees on the island and thousands of families make a living from cultivating these trees. Both the climate and the composition of the Cretan soil guarantee the fine aroma and superb flavour of the Cretan olive oil, which is internationally acknowledged for its high quality.
The prefecture of Rethymno boasts an abundance of olive groves and the production of olive oil is one of the inhabitant's main activities. The sorts of olives that are cultivated are mainly "chondrolies", some "koroneikes" and a few "tsounates". These varieties produce olive oil as well as edible olives of excellent quality. The famous olive grove near Adele in the Municipality of Arkadi, which stretches in a vast flat and semi-mountainous area, is considered one of the largest olive groves in the Mediterranean.
The area of Rethymno and generally the entire island of Crete has always been closely linked with the olive tree and the production of olive oil. On the grounds of this long-lasting relationship a Museum of the Olive-tree was founded in the settlement of Kapsaliana, which was formerly a dependency of the Arkadi Monastery. At this place the Monastery's oil press as well as other buildings were established towards the end of the 16th and in the beginning of the 17th century. It is a scheduled settlement and today has almost entirely been restored and preserved.
SYROS (Island) KYKLADES
The Flora of Syros is characterised by Mediterranean types of shrubs and brushwood, which, when fully grown, could almost be called trees.
It is worth mentioning that at one time vegetation of the island was mostly sylvatic, but gradual changes of climate, combined with human activity, resulted in the disappearance of hydrophile plants and forests on the whole.
The Flora of Syros contains 580 species.
In spite of the fact that the island's ecosystem is not large compared to that of the continent and of other Cycladic islands, there are 20 endemic botanicals. Typical is the great variety of low vegetation (kitchen herbs, edible plants, shrubs and brushwood). Following plants, shrubs and trees are found on the island:
Crocus tournefortii (crocus)
Pancratium maritimum ( lily )
Capparis ovata (caper)
Thymus capitatus (thyme)
Satureia thymbra (mature olive) Cistus sp.
Salnia sp. (sagebrush)
Juniperus phoenicea and Juniperus macrocarpa (cedar)
Pinus halepensis (pine)
This text is cited Apr 2003 from the University of Patras' XENIOS DIAS website URL below.
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