Included here is Crimea of southern Ukraine and Novorossian Province (Krasnodar Region). The latter is situated in the northwestern Caucasus and consists of a series of parallel mountain ranges up to 500 m high, while the Crimea is basically a large peninsula of some 27,000 square kilometers extending into the Black Sea and connected to the mainland by a narrow strip of land at Perekop.

Crimean Mountain Beech Forest

These forests may be dominated by either Fagus moesiaca or the endemic Fagus taurica (Fagaceae). On northern slopes of the southernmost mountain range of the Crimean Peninsula at altitudes ranging from 600-1100 m where the climate is cool with moderate precipitation Fagus moesiaca can form almost pure stands but is occasionally mixed with Carpinus betulus, Fraxinus excelsior, Tilia cordata and Ulmus glabra. The poorly developed understorey may include Euonymus latifolius and Taxus baccata. The herb layer, on the other hand, is very distinct with species such as Cyclamen coum, Nectaroscordum siculum ssp. bulgaricum, Lathyrus rotundifolius, Vincetoxicum scandens and the endemic or near endemic Corydalis paczoskii (Fumariaceae) and Symphytum tauricum (Boraginaceae). On moist, shady slopes, mainly in ravines, forests of Fagus taurica often predominate. These are well developed, for example, in the deep gorge of the Avinda above Gurzuf and on the slopes of the Urag Ridge-Chamny-Burun. Examples also occur above Alupka, Gurzuf, Simeiz and Yalta. Asssociated trees may include Carpinus betulus, Fraxinus excelsior, Taxus buccata and the Crimean endemic Acer steveni (Aceraceae). 

Crimean Oak and Hornbean Forest

Oak forests can be found, for example, on gently sloping regions of the Cape Martyan Reserve. The first story largely consists of Quercus pubescens (downy oak), which can reach heights of 12 m or so. Second story trees include scattered Arbustus andrachne, Juniperus excela and Pinus pallasiana, while a third story consists of an admixture of Acer campestris, Carpinus orientalis (hornbean) and Cornus mas. Typical undergrowth species are Cotinus coggygria and Pyracanthus coccinea. At ground level, the herbaceous layer is often dominated by the grass Brachypodium rupestris, and species characteristic of shady forests like Viola siebeana, V. scotophylla and Platanthera chlorantha. In spring though, many of the clearing come alive with magnificent displays of the golden-yellow flowers of Crocus susianus. Crimean endemic species associated with these oak forests include the biennial Hesperis steveniana (Brassicaceae), the perennials Anthemis dubia (Asteraceae) and Lathyrus digitatus (Fabaceae) and the shrubs Genista depressa (Fabaceae) and Sorbus taurica (Rosaceae). On the summit of coastal mountains (Ayu-Dag, Kastel) at altitudes of over 500 m Quercus pubescens is replaced by Quercus sessiliflora together with the two endemic limes Tilia caucasica and T. dasystyla (Tiliaceae).

Crimean Pine Forest

Belts of non-endemic Crimean pine (Pinus nigra subsp. pallasiana) can be found from Cape Aya eastward almost to the mountains at Kastel. Isolated stands are also found in Balaclava, and in the eastern parts of South Crimea as far as the mountains of Echki-Dag and on the first ridge of the Crimean Mountains. It is related to a series of mountain ‘black’ pine species occurring in the Mediterranean and bordering southern Europe from the Pyrenees to Asia Minor. In the Crimea it is thought to have been much more widespread in the recent past but has been displaced by expanding deciduous trees, particularly Quercus sessiliflora, but parts have also been cleared by man. To make matters worse it is also susceptible to the scale insect Leucaspis pusilla. At low altitudes Crimean pine is the main upper story species with a second story of mainly Quercus pubescens. A third story mainly comprises Juniperus excelsa. However, at high altitudes these latter two species disappear and Crimean pine can form almost pure stands. This is the case, for example, on the slopes above Yalta. In other locations species such as Carpinus betulus, Pinus communis, Sorbus domestica, Quercus sessiliflora, Ulmus foliacea and the Crimean endemic Acer steveni (Aceraceae) may be present. Typical herbaceous species, particularly in the moist upland stands, include Euphorbia amygdaloides, Primula acualis, the attractive violet-coloured Pulsatilla halleri and rose-coloured Centaurea declinata, several umbelliferas such as Dana cornubiensis, Laser trilobium and Laserpitium hispidum and the endemic or near endemic Paeonia triternata (Paeoniaceae). In spring the endemic geophyte Galanthus plicatus (Alliaceae) becomes conspicuous in forest clearings. Other crimean endemics associated with these pine forests include the shrub Cytisus wulffii (Fabaceae) and the umbilifer Pseucedanum tauricum (Apiaceae).


Maleev, V. P. 1948. Vegetation of south Crimea. Proceedings of the Nikita Botanical Garden, 25: 29-48. (In Russian).

Rubtsov, N. I. 1956. A brief review of the Crimean flora endemics. Proceedings of the Nikita Botanical Garden, 29: 18-54. (In Russian).

Seifriz, W. 1931. Sketches of the vegetation of some southern provinces of the Soviet Russia. I. The altitudinal distribution of plants on the Crimean Mountains. Journal of Ecology, 19: 360-371.