Flora of Crete

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Trees, Shrubs, Herbs and Wild Flowers

Dittany healing herb 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.

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.

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

Vai Palm - Phoenix Theofrasti

Vai Palm  Phoenix Theofrasti

Oleander - Nerium oleander

Oleander  Nerium oleander

Tamarisk - Tamarix cretica (image by Alexia de Angelis)

Tamarisk  Tamarix cretica

Myrtle - Myrtus communis (image by Jimenez)

Myrtle  Myrtus communis

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

Mastica Bush - Pistacia lentiscus (image by Ettore Balocchi)

Mastica Bush  Pistacia lentiscus

Herbs of Crete

Origanum dictamnus - Dittany of Crete

In Greek 'Dictamo'

in Cretan dialect 'Erondas'

in English 'Dittany of Crete'

Origanum dictamnus

Cretan Mountain Tea - Sideritis syriaca

Cretan Mountain Tea  Sideritis syriaca

Thyme - Thymus capitatus

Thyme  Thymus capitatus

Chamomile - Chamomilla recutita (image by Justin Snow)

Chamomile  Chamomilla recutita

Sage - Salvia pomifera

Sage  Salvia pomifera

Valerian  Valerian officinalis (image by Andreas Loukakis)

Valerian  Valerian officinalis

Flowering Flora of Crete

Cretan Cyclamen - Cyclamen creticum

Cretan Cyclamen  Cyclamen creticum

Lily of the Sea  Pancratium maritimum

Lily of the Sea  Pancratium maritimum

Jerusalem Sage - Phlomis cretica

Jerusalem Sage  Phlomis cretica

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

Sitia Orchid - Orchis sitiaca (image by Andreas Loukakis)

Sitia Orchid  'Ορχις της Σητείας  Orchis sitiaca

Cretan Bee Orchid - Orchis heldreichii (image by Andreas Loukakis)

Cretan Bee Orchid Orchis heldreichii

Anatolian Orchis - Orchis anatolica (image by Andreas Loukakis)

Anatolian Orchis  Όρχις o ανατολικός  Orchis anatolica

Four-spotted Orchis - Orchis quadripunctata (image by Andreas Loukakis)

Four-spotted Orchis  Ορχιδέα η τετράστικτη  Orchis quadripunctata

Three-toothed Orchis Orchis tridentata (image by Andreas Loukakis)

Three-toothed Orchis  Ορχιδέα η Τρίδοντη   Orchis tridentata

Cretan Ebony (Cretan Silver Bush, Shrubby Sainfoil) Edenus cretica (image by Andreas Loukakis)

Cretan Ebony (Cretan Silver Bush, Shrubby Sainfoil)

Έβενος ο κρητικός  Edenus cretica

Fleishman's Ophrys Ophrys Fleismanii (image by Andreas Loukakis)

Omega Bee Orchid or Fleischman's Ophrys Ophrys omegaifera subsp. fleischmannii

Broad Leaved Anemone  Anemone hortensis (image by Andreas Loukakis)

Broad Leaved Anemone  Ανεμώνη ή κηπαία   Anemone hortensis

Phrygana Ophrys  Ophrys phryganae (image by Andreas Loukakis)

Phrygana Ophrys  Οφρύς των φρυγάνων  Ophrys phryganae

Cretan Iris  Κρητική Ίριδα  Iris cretensis (image by Andreas Loukakis)

Cretan Iris  Κρητική Ίριδα  Iris cretensis

Pink Butterfly Orchid  Orchis papilionacea (image by Andreas Loukakis)

Pink Butterfly Orchid  Ορχιδέα η πεταλουδόμορφη  Orchis papilionacea

Cretan Birthwort  Aristolochia cretica (image by Andreas Loukakis)

Cretan Birthwort  Aristolochia cretica

Cretan Catchfly - Silene cretica (image by Andreas Loukakis)Flora of Crete - Cretan Catchfly - Silene cretica

Cretan Catchfly  Σιληνή ή κρητική  Silene cretica

Orphrys cretica - Cretan OrphrysOrphrys cretica - Cretan Orphrys

Cretan Orphrys   Οφρύς η κρητική   Orphrys cretica

More about the nature of Crete here...

Animals of Crete...

Birds of Crete...

Sealife of Crete

The Mountains and Gorges of Crete...

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