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Flora of Sitia

Flora

Flora is the general term that describes all the plants that grow in the earth.

Flora has two meanings. The first meaning, or flora of an area or of time period, refers to all plant life occurring in an area or time period, especially the naturally occurring or indigenous plant life. The second meaning refers to a book or other work which describes the plant species occurring in an area or time period, with the aim of allowing identification.

The term flora comes from Latin language Flora, the goddess of flowers in Roman mythology. The term can refer to a group of plants or to bacteria. Flora is the root of the word floral, which means pertaining to flowers.

Flora Index

The flora of Sitia

Sitia  presents great floral interest. Amongst the hundreds of plant species it hosts, there are many endemic species encountered throughout Crete, endemic to Crete and Kasos, as well as unique species, known only to the southeast Aegean. The region as a whole belongs to the Mediterranean Vegetation Zone, where brush vegetation prevails. Variations in the vegetation are small, with some exceptions in areas such as the Vai Palm Forest and the surrounding area, as well as in some canyons with an intense presence of water, at least during winter months (Zakros canyon, Xerokambos, Chochlakia). The existence of great expanses of olive trees, vineyards and other tree crops is also very important for the composition of the island’s flora.

The flora in Crete

The Flora of Crete consists of trees and plants, which can also be found in other regions of Greece and the wider Mediterranean area. Out of the 2,000 species which can be found in Crete, 160 of them are endemic to the island (i.e. found nowhere else). This is easily explained as Crete is an island and its ecosystem is isolated due to the surrounding sea.

Compared to periods of the past, the vegetation of today has been diminished to a large degree. Mountains that previously had lush vegetation such as Psiloritis (Mountain Ida or Idi) are today almost bare.

Common trees in Crete are the tamarisk (Tamarix cretica), oak-, chestnut-, pine-, cypress- and the evergreen plane tree (Platanus orientalis). This grows close to water and it can grow up to 30 meters high. It is also quite often found in the village squares, offering its shade to people. A huge plane tree, or platanos in Greek, can be seen at Topolia village in west Crete on the road from Kissamos (Kastelli) to Elafonissi. It is so huge that the local community has declared it a “Monument of Nature”. Another famous plane tree is the one in Krasi village on the way from Iraklion to Lassithi Plateau (the trunk of which has the largest circumference of any plane tree in Europe). Undoubtedly, the most famous plane tree is the one in Gortyn, which according to mythology, was where Zeus “married” Europe after he kidnapped her from Asia Minor. Look for it when you visit this magnificent archaeological site in south Iraklion area.

Of singular natural beauty is the palm-forest of Vai, where Phoenix theophrasti grows, a variety unique to Crete. Another famous palm forest is the Preveli one. A much smaller and less known one exists at Agios Antonios in south Iraklion district.

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