The Cretan Flora

Endemic Plants

Approximately 10% of Crete's flora is endemic. That is, they can only be found in Crete. And since Crete with more than 1.700 different plant species is one of the most species-rich areas in Europe, there are also a lot of endemic plants.
Some of them are quite common in Crete, but most are rare and difficult to find.
An overview of many of them can be downloaded here. (Only with the Latin plant names indicated).

Below we will describe a few of Crete's endemic plant species.

Cretan Zelkova

Zelkova abelicea

This 3 to 5 meters high tree is found only in Crete, where it grows in 17 different places in the mountains. In total, it is estimated that there are 50 to 100 mature trees. It is therefore registered as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Cretan Zelkova grows on rocky, calcareous soils and on rocky hillsides. It is found in forest, scrub and heathland scattered among other tree species. One such place is the Rouvas forests on Psiloriis' slopes south of Villa Talea. Zelkova has a highly branched, dense crown. The leaves are small and green with serrated edges and the tree has small, fragrant flowers.

Cretan plane tree

Platanus orientalis var. Cretica

The Cretan plane tree is a subspecies of the oriental plane tree. But whereas all other plane trees are deciduous, the Cretan plane tree is evergreen. The evergreen plane tree is found only in Crete and there are only approx. 50 trees scattered around the island. The trees can become very large and are often used as shade in small squares and plazas in the villages. The most famous Cretan plane tree can be found at the archaeological excavations at Gortyn. It is said that it was under this tree that Zeus and Europe made love and that's why the tree has retained its leaves ever since.

Phlomis or Jerusalem Sage

Phlomis cretica

In Crete there are three kinds of Phlomis, Phlomis fruticosa, Phlomis cretica and Phlomis lanata. The latter found only in Crete. Despite the name Phlomis cretica can also be found elsewhere in southern Greece. P. lanata is an evergreen shrub that resemble sage, with its gray-green hairy leaves. The flowers are golden. It grows on dry, rocky slopes (phrygana) in full sun.

Photo of a Bougainvillea with mountains behind. It is native to South America but found all over the Mediterranean today.
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