East Mediterranean Oak Woodland/Scrub

It seems likely that much of the Eastern Mediterranean would have been clothed in a climax community of oak woodland prior to human intervention. Much is dominated by Quercus calliprinos a species that can attain heights of 15 m in some of the woodland remnants that have been left undisturbed such as in the so-called sacred woods. In such areas other species like Crataegus aronia, Laurus nobile, Pistacia palaestrina, Quercus ithaburensis and Q. macrolepis can all grow into stately trees, but many of the remaining stands have a much more stunted appearance. In Palestine, Syria and Lebanon much of these are dominated by Quercus calliprinus, although the endemic Pistacia palaestina (Anacardiaceae) may often be co-dominant. Its interesting to note that these two species have their West Mediterranean vicariads in Quercus coccifera and Pistacia terebinthus, while Arbutus andrachne, another important component of these East Mediterranean oak woods, is an east vicariad of the mainly west and north Mediterranean Arbutus unedo. In other parts of the East Mediterranean the oak woodlands are typified by other species. Quercus bossieri becomes the main species in slightly colder, more mesic situations such as on Meron Mountain (north Palestine), while in northwestern Anatolia Q. coccifera and Q. infectoria are the main species and Arbutus andrachne is replaced by A. unedo, showing the areas affinity with the Western Mediterranean.  Other oak species forming dominant woodland trees include Quercus ilex (e.g. uplands of Crete), Quercus macrolepis (e.g. western and south western Turkey) and Quercus ithaburensis.  Woodlands dominated by the latter reach their southern limit in central Palestine occurring in places such as the Sharon Plain, Lower Galilee and the Golan area. Like several other woodland and maquis species, Quercus ithaburensis is winter deciduous and may represent a vegetational relic of an earlier climate.  Among the many endemic or near endemic species associated with these oak woodlands are Asperula libanotica (Rubiaceae), Cytisus syriacus, Lupinus palaestrinus (Fabaceae), Gonocytisus pterocladus (Fabaceae), Origanum laevigatum (Lamiaceae), Plantago sarcophylla (Plantaginaceae), Prunus ursina (Rosaceae), Synelcosciadium carmeli (Apiaceae) and Verbascum gaillardotii (Scrophulariaceae).

Balearic Evergreen Oak Forests

Like much of the Mediterranean, the natural plant formation, is evergreen oak forest dominated by Quercus ilex (holm oak) although today Pinus halepensis (aleppo pine) is probably the most common tree on the islands.  Other tree species include Arbutus unedo strawberry tree, while the shrub layer comprises Asparagus acutifolius, Daphne gnidium (Mediterranean mezereon), Erica arborea (tree heather), Phillyrea latifolia and the near endemic Rhamnus ludovici-salvatoris (Rhamnaceae). The ground layer includes another species, Cyclamen balearicum (Myrsinaceae), that was originally thought to be endemic,but this species has since been recorded in the south of France.

East Mediterranean Pinus brutia Forest

Forests dominated by Pinus brutia extend from Lebanon through southern and western Turkey, the Black Sea regions, Cyprus, Crete, and other Aegean islands, and range from sea level to about 1800 m. In fact, on Cyprus it is the only pine-species that descends to sea level. It has many traits in common with the more southerly Pinus halepensis, but is much more widespread. The rich undergrowth varies from place to place and includes a number of endemic or near endemic taxa like Acer obtusifolium (Aceraceae), Berberis cretica (Berberidaceae), Bromus syriacus (Poaceae), Centaurea cretica, Jurinea mollis subsp. anatolica and Lactuca cretica (Asteraceae), Cytisopsis pseudocytisus (Fabaceae), Origanum libanoticum, Origanum syriacum, Phlomis vicosa, Salvia triloba subsp. libanotica and Stachys distans (Lamiaceae).

East Mediterranean Cupressus sempervirens Forest

Forests of Cupressus sempervirens var. horizontalis have been recorded in Anatolia, Crete, Cyprus, Jordan and Lebanon, and according to the fossil record were probably also in the Judean Mountains and elsewhere. They are normally confined to rocky ground and invariable co-dominated by species such as Acer obtusifolium (e.g. Cyprus), Acer orientale (e.g. Crete), Juniperus phoenica (e.g. Jordan) and Quercus calliprinus (e.g. Lebanon). Their under story species also display large variations but may include various endemic or endemic species such as Astragalus creticus (Fabaceae), Gonocytisus pterocladus (Fabaceae), Silene libanotica (Caryophyllaceae) and Stachys cretica (Lamiaceae).

South Mediterranean Quercus coccifera Forest

Large stands of these forests occur in Algeria and Tunisia on fixed coastal dunes particularly in the coastal zone from Tabarka to Nabeul. In places Quercus coccifera forms a dense, much branched shrub, but locally develops into trees often associated with tall (8-9 m) Juniperus phoenicea. Other associated small trees and shrubs include Ceratonia siliqua, Olea europaea, Phillyrea angustifolia, Pistacia lentiscus and the endemic Ephedra altissima (Ephedraceae). There are also many small shrubs such as Asparagus acutifolius, Calicotoma villosa, Clematis cirrhosa, Lavendula dentata, Lycium intricatum, Retama monosperma, Teucrium polium and Withania frutescens.

South Mediterranean Quercus afares Forest

Forests characterized by the endemic Quercus afares (Fagaceae) are largely confined to the acid massifs in Khemir and Mogod where wetter conditions prevail. Quercus faginea if often scattered in the canopy and may form the dominant species in places. Associated species include Ampelodesma mauritanicum, Cytisus villosa, Erica arborea, Genista tricuspidata, Paeonia atlantica and Ruscus aculeatus.

Southwestern Mediterranean Pyrus mamorensis Forest

Forest characterized by scattered trees of the endemic pear Pyrus mamorensis (Rosaceae) is best exemplified by the Mâmora Forest of Morocco. An open, xerophilous forest of deep sand it includes various associated shrubs such as Cytisus linifolius, Daphne gnidium, Ulex canthus and the endemic Lavendula stoechas (Lamiaceae). In associated large clearings Thymelaea lythroides and the conspicuous composite Ormenis multicaulis are usually common. Herbaceous vegetation is also largely confined to clearings and typically includes various bulbous plants like Asphodelus microcarpus, Dipcadi serotinum and Urginea maritima.

Southwestern Mediterranean Quercus suber Forest

Forest dominated by Quercus suber occur, for example, on the Rif growing to an altitude of about 1200 m. They can reach a height of 15 m and have a dense sub-canopy layer reaching 5 m or so composed largely of Arbutus unedo and Erica arborea. A shrub layer of small shrubs like Cistus salviifolius and the endemic Lavendula stoechas (Lamiaceae) is often present. Clearings include various heliophilous shrubs such as Cistus populifolius and the endemic Halimium lasiocalycinum (Cistaceae).

Southwestern Mediterranean Olive (Olea europaea) Thicket

Thicket or scrub forest characterized by Olea europaea together with Chamaerops humilis, Pistacia atlantis and P. lentiscus may represent a natural climatic climax community in certain arid areas, but most stands now show evidence of human interference. Olea can grow into a small tree (10-12 m) but is often much smaller. These thickets would have occupied what is now much of the lowland cultivated areas, but they can also grow at altitudes up to about 1650 in the Grand Atlas. Associated species include Juniperus phoenicea and the endemic Argania spinosa (Sapotaceae). Some of the degraded vegetation in the lowland plains has now become dominated by Chamaerops humilis, but these have now become havens for geophytes such as Aceras, Allium, Anacamptis, Anthericum, Asphodelus, Bellevalia, Colchicum, Crocus, Dipcadi, Erythrostictus, Gagea, Gladiolus, Iris, Leucojum, Muscari, Narcissus, Ophrys, Orchis, Ornithogalum, Romulea, Scilla and Urginea. In spring these plains in Morocco turn into a multi-coloured garden with large patched of the orange endemic Calendula algeriensis (Asteraceae), blue patches of the endemic Convolvulus gharbensis (Convolvulaceae), mixed with purple Fedia, violet Linaria, yellow Chrysanthemum and Diplotaxis

Balearic Olive Woods

The dominant tree here is Olea europaea var. silvestris (wild olive) and Ceratonia silique (carob).  Typical shrubs include Cneorum tricoccon, Euphorbia dendroides (tree spurge), Ephedra fragilis (joint-pine) and Chamaerops humulis (dwarf fan palm) may also be present. Ground layer species typically include Arum pictum, Asparagus albus and A. stipularis.

Southwestern Mediterranean Tetraclinis articulata Forest

Apart from a small population in Malta and in the extreme southeastern corner of Spain, Tetraclinis articulata is confined to North Africa. Moroccan forests characterized by this species occur on the lower Mediterranean slopes of the Rif and then extend eastwards into Algeria. They also occur on the northern slopes and valleys of the Anti Atlas, Middle Atlas and High Atlas. Trees of Tetraclinis can reach heights of 15 m, but their narrow crowns form only a light canopy and so most associated species are heliophilous. The most common of these include Ebenus pinnata, Lavendula multifida, Teucrium polium, while less common are Ampelodesmus mauritanicum, Anthyllis cytisoides and the endemic Polygala balansae (Polygalaceae).

Southwestern Mediterranean Juniperus phoenicea Forest

Juniperus phoenicea forest has two principal habitats: coastal sands and high plateaus. On dunes they develop behind the first dune ridge where there is a degree of shelter from the maritime environment. Other characteristic species include Asparagus alhus, Clematis cirrhosa, Ephedra fragilis, Jasminium fruticans, Philyrea angustifolia, Pistacia lentiscus, Rhamnus alaternus and Smilax aspera. Inland forests occur on the Great, Middle and Anti-Atlas, but rarely exceed an altitude of more then 2200 m. At higher altitudes Juniperus phoenicea becomes mixed with J. thurifera, while associated species include Adenocarpus bacquei, Artemisia herba-alba, Buxus balearica, Carthamnus fruticosus, Fraxinus xanthoxyloides, Genista myriantha, Globularia alypum, Lavendula multifida, Rhamnus oleoides and Stipa tenacissima.


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