East Mediterranean Ceratonia silqua-Pistacia lentiscus Maquis

Although grazing by domestic stock has always interfered with this community its arboreal elements have never been totally destroyed, and it often retains an open, park-like appearance. Some of the more typical trees include the community dominants Ceratonia siliqua, Olea europaea var. oleaster and sometimes Juniperus phoenica, while the shrubby cover is predominated by Pistacia lentiscus. But this should not belie the fact that this is one of the Eastern Mediterranean’s richest maquis communities supporting some 250 flowering plants, and no other maquis displays such a profusion of flowers in springtime.  It occurs throughout the BioProvince and in Palestine forms almost a continuous belt along the foothills and lower zones of the calcareous Cisjordanian Mountains from Duweima (near Hebron) to the Lebanese frontier. It shows slight variations in species composition from place to place. In Syria and Lebanon, Myrtus communis becomes a more important component, while in Cyprus Juniperus phoenica usually supersedes Ceratonia siliqua as the most important tree species. Its Anatolian counterpart is also slightly different in that Pistacia lentiscus becomes less common and may be replaced by species such as Quercus coccifera. Many of the associated species, such as as Ceratonia siliqua, Cistus creticus, Erica verticillata and Pistacia lentiscus have circum or almost circum - Mediterranean distributions, while others like Pyrus syriaca are found further east in the Irano-Turanian flora. There is also a large endemic or near endemic element including Genista anatolica (Fabaceae), Marjorana syriaca and Salvia hiersolymitana (Lamiaceae), Rhamnus palaestinus and R. punctata (Rhamnaceae).

East Mediterranean Sarcopoterium spinosum Garigue

This represents the main dwarf shrub vegetation of the East Mediterranean and often dominates wherever the arboreal climax vegetation has been destroyed, although on the eastern and southern fringes of the BioProvince it forms natural climax vegetation in its own right. Referred to as Batha in the Bible it is usually characterized by the dominance of Sarcopoterium spinosum, but may also commonly include Calycotoma villosa, Cistus creticus, Corydothymus capitatus, Genista fasselata, Helianthemum stipularum or Salvia triloba, any one of which can be locally dominant of sub-dominant. It also incorporates hundreds of other species including many winter and summer annuals and can be extremely colourful especially in springtime. Although it probably sees its best development in Palestine, it also occurs in Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Cyprus and Crete. Many of the species are deep-rooted heliophytes with relatively low moisture requirements and can grow well on stony ground. The many endemic or near endemic species include Acanthus syriacus (Acanthaceae), Convolvulus caelesyriacus (Convolvulaceae), Eryngium creticum (Apiaceae), Euphorbia cassia (Euphorbiaceae), Maresia pulchella (Brassicaceae), Nigella arvensis var. palaestina (Ranunculaceae), Plantago cretica (Plantaginaceae), Teucrium creticum, Phlomis cretica, Salvia libanotica (Lamiaceae), Lotus creticus, Lupinus palaestinus, Trifolium palaestinum, Vicia palaestina (Fabaceae).

Balearic Rosemary Garrigue

The main shrubs in this formation include Rosmarius officinalis (rosemary) and Erica multiflora. Rosemary can be found from sea level to the top of the highest mountain, but the endemic variety palaui is confined to the mountains. Other important shrubs include Anthyllus cytisoides, Globularia alypum, Lavendula dentata and the endemic Genista lucida (Fabaceae). Characteristic herbaceous species include Gladiolus illyricus and various ‘insect’ orchids such as Ophrys tenthredinifera sawfly orchid and O. bombylifera bumblebee orchid. Endemics include Smilax aspera var. balearica (Liliaceae). 

Balearic Mountain Garrigue

Most Balearic endemics occur in this zone. The endemic shrubs Hypericum balearicum (Hypericaceae) or Teucrium subspinosum (Lamiaceae) are two of the most conspicuous species. Other endemics include Astragalus balearica (Fabaceae), Crocus cambessedesii (Iridaceae), Digitalis dubia (Scrophulariaceae), Helleborus foetidus var. balearicus (Ranunculaceae), Paeonia cambessedesii (Paeoniaceae), Pastinaca lucida (Apiaceae), Phlomis italica, Scutellaria balearica and Teucrium asiaticum (Lamiaceae) and Santolina chamaecyparissus subsp. magonica (Asteraceae). A common trait of Balearic endemics is the purple colour of under-leaf surfaces.

Iberian Cistus palhinhae Matorral

On the wind-swept headlands of Sagres and Cape St Vincent in the Algarve a type of matorral dominated by the endemic Cistus palhnhae has developed on these hard, calcareous, dolomitic rocks. It grows in low, compact bushes and is frequently associated with Cistus albidus, C. monspeliensis and C. salvifolius. Other commonly associated matorral shrubs are Corema album, Dorycnium hirstum and Juniperus phoenicea.  Endemic shrubs found here include Helianthemum origanifolium (Cistaceae), Lithospermum diffusum subsp. lusitanica (Boraginaceae), Malva hispanica (Malvaceae) and Thymus camphoratus (Lamiaceae). Typical herbaceous elements are Anemone palmata, Dipcadi serotinum, Lithospermum apulum, Narcissus obesus, Onobrychis peduncularis and Silene colorata. Other endemic species associated with these headlands are Campanula lusitanica (Campanulaceae), Biscutella vincentina, Iberis procumbens (Brassicaceae), Linaria algarviana (Scrophulariaceae) and Scilla vincentina (Liliaceae).

Iberian Quercus coccifera Matorral (Garigue)

Kerme oak Quercus coccifera garigue is characteristic of calcareous slopes in the western Mediterranean such as the northern slopes of the Sierra Nevada and the limestone outcrops of the Sierra da Arrabida. In the Iberian Peninsula commonly associated shrubs may include Coronilla velentine subsp. glauca, Genista cinerea, Genista tournefortii, Jasminium fruticans, Juniperus oxycedrus, Lavendula multifida, Phlomis purpurea and Ulex parvula. In the Sierra da Arrabida some of the herbaceous species growing under the protection of the shrubs are Omphalodes linifolia, Tulipa australis and variety of orchids like Ophrys lutea, O. speculum, Orchis italica and O. papilionacea. This community is also rich in endemic species such as Astragalus lusitanicus (Fabaceae), Fritillaria lusitanica and Ornithogalum concinnum (Liliaceae).

Iberian Montane Maquis

This vegetation is mostly composed of evergreen shrubs due in part to their greater resistance to grazing. The most important and widespread species of this maquis (sometimes referred to as pseudomaquis) are Quercus coccifera, Buxus sempervirens and Juniperus oxycedrus, and usually occur where a deciduous oak climax community has been degraded. In Spain these widespread species may be associated with Acer granatense, Amelanchier ovalis and the endemic or near endemic Juniperus thurifera (Cupressaceae), Quercus faginea (Fagaceae) and Prunus lusitanica (Rosaceae).


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