The Flora of 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. The few wooded
areas remaining on the island, can be found at:
1. Mostly on the White Mountains range in west Crete. The wooded Samaria
Gorge can be considered as an image from the past of Crete.
2. The south flanks of Mt Idi in Vorizia, Kamares and Zaros area
3. The south flanks of the Dikti Mountains in Selakano and Pefkos in
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
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.
Most tourists visit Crete during the hot summer months. This is the period
of the year that the island looks like a desert: brown hills, dry bushes
and lots of dust. Crete is totally different in the winter and spring.
New grass and wild greens have grown and Crete is a green island. People
who have known Crete in the summer won't recognize it in the winter.
- Olive Trees and Vineyards in Crete -
April and May Crete is covered by wildflowers: poppies, daisies,
camomile, iris (Iris cretica), gladiola (Gladiolus
italicus), tulips (Tulipa orphanidea), hyacinth (Muscari
commosum) and various species of Cretan orchids.
In shady areas white cyclamens (Cyclamen creticum) can be found.
Unfortunately cyclamens are considered an endangered species, so when
you see them do not cut them, just take a photo of them.
Herbs like thyme, sage and rosemary are very common
in Crete and they have been used for thousands of years for culinary and
Dittany (Origanum dictamus), dictamos or erontas
in greek, is another Cretan herb. It is said that the wild goats of Crete
( kri-kri, an ibex endemic to Crete) look for it and eat it when they
injure themselves as it helps in the healing of their wounds. Dittany
grows wild in steep cliffs and it is very good for stomach-ache. Today
it is also cultivated in Vianos area in the villages of Xeniako, Milliarado
No page about the Flora of Crete can be complete if the evergreen Olea
Europea is not mentioned. Olea is the common olive tree, you will
see myriads of it on Crete and It is part of the history of Crete and