Crete Flowers - from tiny ground covers to colourful orchids, the unusual ecosystems of Crete are host to many unique flowering plants, some of which are only found on Crete, and it takes a guide to point them out when walking in the mountains and gorges.
More on the Flora of Crete here...
In the towns and villages colourful cascades brighten many houses and corners everyday.
Crete walking tours are available, many have spring-time walks to enjoy the flowers with botanist guides, or a photography guide, or both.
'The Happy Walker' is a company based in Rethymnon that offers many different walks, including a different walk each day of the week. Many of these walks are rated as 'easy' grade.
'Aori Walks' is a small trekking company based in the White Mountains in Chania. Anne Deckel guides the walks through the highest points of that mountain range with her local knowledge. These walks range from one day to two weeks.
of Crete' tours are run by passionate flower lovers Julia Jones and
Rosemary John, they take visitors on walking, photography and art
explorations and hold symposia on the ecology of Crete. Food foraging
trips are very popular and help to share the traditions of Crete,
precious knowledge handed down from yiayia about how to collect sage, rosemary, thyme, origanum, wild vine leaves and wild greens!
There are many parklands and national parks in Crete. The most famous is Samaria Gorge, however there are many other gorges with beautiful plants and flowers, such as Agia Irini Gorge in the west and Zakros Gorge in the east.
The Mediterranean woodland scrub of the island is dotted with many species such as pine forests with Brutia Pines Pinus brutia. Holly Oak Quercus coccifera woodlands are widely spread. Higher up are cypress woodlands, where the local evergreen Maple Acer sempervirens grows, and thorny cushion shrublands.
Rouvas Gorge (above) in central Crete is rocky and dry like much of this island, it is only in the deep gorge hollows and the Rouvas Forest (below) that those untrained will find flora. Of course experienced botanists and mountain folk will see unusual small plants and flowers even in the most remote rocky outcrops.
Cretan Rock Rose Cistus creticus
Jerusalem Sage Phlomis cretica
Sea Lily Pancratium maritimum, on the Beach at Plakias, Crete
Surprising Poppies in the rocks Papaver rhoeas
Useful flora guides for Crete are available to buy below.
• Wildflowers of Crete by George Sfikas
• Walks with Crete's Spring Flowers by Jeff Collman
• Flowers of Crete by Marina Clauser
• Flowers of Crete by Fielding & Turland
• The Mountain Flora of Greece by Stid & Tan
• The Most Beautiful Wildflowers of Crete by Adonis Alibertis
• The Orchids of Crete and Karpathos by Adonis Alibertis
• Wildfilowers of the Mediterranean by Grey-Wilson and Blamey
• Flowers of Greece and the Balkans
In addition this book covers the ecology, history and geography of the island:
• The Making of the Cretan Landscape by Oliver Rackham & Jennifer Moody
The orchids of Crete are spectacular, some are endemic to the island, see some below with special thanks to our friend Andreas Loukakis, photographer and naturalist.