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. The temperate forests comprise both broad-leaf and coniferous types.

Crimean Oak (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 Juniper Forest

These once extensive forests are now confined to just a few places. In South Crimea stands can be found in coastal areas such as the Laspa Valley and Cape Martyan. They are typically mixed juniper-oak forests dominated by Juniperus excelsa and Quercus pubescens. Other trees may include Arbutus andrachne, Pinus pallasiana and Pistacia mutica. Arbutus andrachne, the strawberry tree, is mainly confined to land encompassing the Eastern Mediterranean. These Crimean forests rarely exceed about 10 m in height, but some of the junipers are quite ancient with certain specimens estimated to be over 500 years old. Many of the forests form open stands providing habitat for light-loving species at ground level, while more shade tolerant and moisture loving species tend to be confined to places where tree cover and undergrowth is thicker. The undergrowth may form two layers with an upper layer consisting of species such as Cornus mas, Coronilla emeroides, Pallurus spina-christa, Rosa dumetorum the endemic Colutea cilicica (Fabaceae) and a lower layer comprising species such as Jasminum fruticans, Ruscus ponticus and the endemic Cistus tauricus (Cistaceae). At ground level, the herbaceous layer typically includes grasses like Agropyron glaucum, Brachypodium rupestris, Lasiagrostis bromoides, Poa sterilis and a large variety of forbs and undershubs such as Anthemis tinctoria, Asperula galioides, Dorycnium intermedium, Erysimum cuspidatum, Fumana procumbens, Helianthemum chamaecistis, Jurinea arachnoides, Teucrium polium, Veronica multifida and the endemic or near endemic Dictamus gymnostylis (Rutaceae), Galium tauricum (Rubiaceae) and Salvia grandiflora (Lamiaceae). In spring the herbaceous cover is augmented by a variety of early flowering species particularly geophytes like Muscari racemosum, Ornithogalum refractum, O. woronowii and orchids like Anacamptis pyramidalis, Ophrys oestrifera, Orchis picta, O. simia together with the rare and endemic Crimean orchid (Comperia taurica) and Ophrys taurica (Orchidaceae).  Other Crimean endemics associated with these forest include shrub Sorbus taurica (Rosaceae) and the herbaceous perennials Crocus angustifolia (Iridaceae), Lathyrus digitatus (Fabaceae) and Scutellaria pallida (Lamiaceae).

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).

Crimean Pitsunda Pine Forest

The most extensive stands of the endemic or near endemic Pitsunda Pine (Pinus brutia subsp. pityusa) are found on Pitsunda Cape. It is a relict of the ancient Tertiary flora of the Eastern Mediterranean particularly from around the Euxine zone. Fossilized cones of the species have been found in Tertiary sediments on the Kerch Peninsula. A distinguishing feature of the species is its extremely long pine needles. Trees can reach heights of up to 35 m and have a trunk diameter of 2 m. Associated trees may include Carpinus betulus and Quercus pubescens,and towards the Cape Aya it is accompanied by Arbutus andrachne and the endemic shrub Cistus tauricus (Cistaceae).


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.