Flora of Crete

Trees, Shrubs, Herbs and Wild Flowers

Flora of Crete - DittanyDittany of Crete

The flora of Crete is identified by botanists as Mediterranean forest, woodlands and scrub.

The low elevations have sclerophyllous evergreen and semi-deciduous oak forests. With species such as kermes oak, carob, juniper and tree-spurge.

The mid elevations have mesophyllous pine forests with Brutia Pines pinus brutia. Holly Oak quercus coccifera woodlands are widely spread.

The highest elevations such as the Lefka Ori and Psiloritis mountain ranges support cypress woodlands, where the local evergreen Maple acer sempervirens grows, and thorny cushion shrublands.

Four new species of plant were discovered on Crete between 2000-2004.

There are 55 unique ecotopes identified by the Natura 2000 program in Kriti. Of over 1600 species found on the island, around 160 are found nowhere else. The endemic plants are to be found high in the mountains and include a rare and endangered small tree named Cretan Zelkova.

Flora od Crete - Poppies in springtime

When we speak to our mother of her childhood memories of Crete, flowers in springtime are one of her fondest reminiscences. With snow on the mountains and very cold temperatures in winter, spring is truly a magical time of renewal and bursting energy in the nature of Kriti.

One of the most striking images is that of the glowing red poppies contrasting against the bursting green grasses, and the white limestone rocks of the hillsides.

Spring time brings visitors from all over the world to enjoy the flora of Crete.

Flora of Crete - poppies and lavender grow wild

The profusion of wild herbs of Crete have been gathered over centuries and used for teas, wellbeing and healing. The herb Dittany dictamo or in Cretan erondas is used for pain relief, especially of stomach aches and arthritis.

This herb has been known for centuries and was used by the Minoans and ancient Greeks. Hippocrates taught its therapeutic benefits and in modern times it is available in powder form and as an essential oil.

The hillsides of Kriti are fresh with lavender, rigani, thyme, sage and chamomile. Cretan mountain tea, an ironwort Sideritis syriaca is a very common drink in the village and may be proudly offered to visitors as tsai tou vounou.

Below we give just a taste of the abundant plants of Crete, with their photographs and species names to help the amateur botanists and lovers of nature to enjoy the discovery of the unique plants of Crete.

Trees and Scrub of Crete

Flora of Crete - Vai Palm - Phoenix Theofrasti

Vai Palm  Phoenix Theofrasti

Flora of Crete - Oleander - Nerium oleander

Oleander  Nerium oleander

Flora of Crete - Tamarisk Tree (image by Alexia de Angelis)

Tamarisk  Tamarix cretica

Flora of Crete - Myrtle - Myrtus communis (image by Jimenez)

Myrtle  Myrtus communis

Flora of Crete - Carob Tree - Ceratonia siliqua (image by Gino Cherchi)

Carob Tree  Ceratonia siliqua

Plane Tree  Platanus orientalis

Plane Tree  Platanus orientalis

Maple Tree  Acer sempervirens

Maple Tree  Acer sempervirens

Flora of Crete - Mastica Bush - Pistacia lentiscus (image by Ettore Balocchi)

Mastica Bush  Pistacia lentiscus

Herbs of Crete

Flora of Crete - Origanum dictamnus - Dittany of Crete

In Greek 'Dictamo'

in Cretan dialect 'Erondas'

in English 'Dittany of Crete'

Origanum dictamnus

Flora of Crete - Cretan Mountain Tea - Sideritis syriaca

Cretan Mountain Tea  Sideritis syriaca

Thyme  Thymus capitatus

Flora of Crete - Chamomile (image by Justin Snow)

Chamomile  Chamomilla recutita

Sage  Salvia pomifera

Valerian  Valerian officinalis

Flowering Flora of Crete

Flora of Crete - Cretan Cyclamen - Cyclamen creticum

Cretan Cyclamen  Cyclamen creticum

Lily of the Sea  Pancratium maritimum

Jerusalem Sage  Phlomis cretica

Here on this page and throughout our website we share some beautiful flora images from talented local photographer - Andreas Loukakis.

Orchis sitiaca by Andreas Loukakis, Crete

Sitia Orchid Orchis sitiaca

Orchis heldreichii by Andreas Loukakis, Crete

Cretan Bee Orchid Orchis heldreichii

Orchis anatolica by Andreas Loukakis, Crete

Anatolian Orchis Orchis anatolica

Orchis quadripunctata by Andreas Loukakis, Crete

Four-spotted Orchis Orchis quadripunctata

Orchis tridentata by Andreas Loukakis, Crete

Three-toothed Orchis Orchis tridentata

Edenus cretica by Andreas Loukakis

Cretan Ebony (Cretan Silver Bush, Shrubby Sainfoil) Edenus cretica

Native Flora of Crete - Ophrys Fleismanii - image by Andreas Loukakis

Fleishman's Ophrys Ophrys Fleismanii

Broad Leaved Anemone  Anemone hortensis

Flora of Crete - Phrygana Ophrys

Phrygana Ophrys  Ophrys phryganae

Cretan Iris  Κρητική Ίριδα  Iris cretensis

Pink Butterfly Orchid  Orchis papilionacea

Klaas and José have spent many hours hiking and looking at the flora of Crete and Greece, so much so that they have put their results on their website: www.greekmountainflora.info which has a separate section for Cretan flora.

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