September 29, 2022

The Flora of Greece


Leon and Souda islets, Crete, Greece
Leon and Souda islets, Crete, Greece (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For many visitors to Greece the stunning flora is one of the natural highlights that should not be missed out on. If you are looking for the riotous display of colour that many of Greece’s flowers put on, then it is best to head to the county in the spring. By high summer some of the landscape can start to look a little parched. This is particularly so when it comes to Greece’s smaller islands. However, natural floral displays continue for longer on the mainland and the larger islands such as Rhodes and Cyprus. If, like Francesco Corallo, you like to take the occasional holiday on a Greek island, try going earlier in the year to enjoy the best that nature has to offer.


Greece boasts in excess of 6,000 plant species which have been recorded by scientists. Of these, about 750 are known to be native inhabitants. These original species can only be found within the boundaries of the country. For nature lovers, like Francesco Corallo, it is seeing them in their natural habitat that is the thrill. Catching the right plant at the right time of year is equally as exciting. Try a trip in April to see plants such as helianthemum salicifolium or allium rubrovittatum in full flower. A visit in the early part of June, as favoured by the likes of Francesco Corallo, will mean you can see the wonderful geocaryum creticum at its best.


Of course, there are some plants which are found in Greece that you will also find elsewhere in the Eastern Mediterranean. However, there are some local species that you just cannot find elsewhere. Francesco Corallo and others who enjoy seeking out rare plants, can do worse than a visit to Crete where some 10 per cent of the flora is only found on that island. Crete, for example, has over fifty plant species which are threatened with extinction, like asperula rigida which lives only in dry and rocky habitats. For intrepid plant lovers, like Francesco Corallo, you may have to consider a long walk in sometimes steep gorges to be rewarded with the sight of one.


For some of Greece’s rarer flowering plants there is only a short window of opportunity to see them. However others have longer flowering periods. For instance, ameranthus albus flower from July all the way through to December. Mercurialis annua begins flowering as late as October, depending on the weather, and continues to put on a display until the following Easter.


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