Greek Mountain Flora

                                                          Crete

   Crete, the largest of the many islands of the Aegean, is 256km long, between 11 and 56km in
   width, with an area of about 8700 square km.
   The main axis of the island lies east-west and is part of a mountainous area which formed an
   arc of land stretching from the Peloponnese to south-western Turkey in mid-Tertiary times.
   Today Crete and the islands of Kithira and Andikithira to the west, and Kasos, Karpathos and
   Rhodos to the east, are all that remains above sea-level.
   The mountains of the island bear evidence of a complex geological structure. In general they
   are of limestone or dolomite and rest on older metamorphic rocks. The hard limestones are
   mostly of Jurassic, Cretaceous and Eocene origin. They weather very slowly, particularly in
   the low rainfall areas, and show many of the typical karstic features of the Balkans, with
   gorges, caves, polja and vast underground drainage systems. The mountain summits are
   generally of grey eroded crags standing above stony deserts of fragmented limestone flakes.
   The highest mountains are Idi, with Mt Psiloritis at 2456m in the centre of Crete, the
   White Mountains or Lefka Ori, with Mt Pakhnes at 2452m in the west of Crete. And the
   Dikti Mountains with Afendi Khristos at 2148m to the east of the island.
   Isolated Mt Khedros(1776m), situated south of the Idi Mts, is of interest because of the 
   rare endemic plants which grow here.
   The Cretan climate is typically Mediterranean. Summers are hot and dry with very little rain
   from May to October. The wettest months are December and January. However, the
   proximity of relatively high mountains close to the sea causes wide local variations in climate.
   There can be heavy snowfalls in the mountains, and snow may continue to lie on the summits till
   the end of May or even later. Strong winds are common.
   The special interest of the Cretan flora lies in the very considerable number of species which
   are endemic or have an eastern Mediterranean or Anatolian distribution.
   They are predominantly plants of the mountains and of the dry phrygana of the hills and
   lowlands. Also the numerous gorges have a large number of endemics, mostly chasmophytes.
   These are plants that grow in gorges, on cliffs or rock-faces. The old gorges of Crete act as a
   refuge for these species, each rock-face, ledge or crevice, whether in sun or shade, creates its
   own special micro habitat. Many species have distinctive habitat preferences, while each gorge
   has its own selection of species.

   Crete Photo Album    Updated 29-03-2010       View in Google maps

Lowland flora
Central Greece
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Greek Mountain Flora
available in book form
Northern Greece Volume 1
Northern Greece Volume 2
Peloponnese
2006 ęKlaas Kamstra All rights reserved