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Flora of Cyprus


Epipactis veratrifolia

With its approximately 1.800 species and subspecies of flowering plants, Cyprus, is an extremely interesting place for nature lovers and has all the attributes which make it a botanist's paradise. Being an island, it is sufficiently isolated to allow the evolution of a strong endemic flowering element. At the same time being surrounded by big continents, it incorporates botanological elements of the neighbouring land masses.

About 8% of the indigenous plants of the island, 125 different species and subspecies, are endemic. The island's great variety of habitats, attributed to a varied microclimate and geology, is the main reason which contributed to this high number of endemics.

The dry, maquish-covered and rock-strewn hills present little proof that Cyprus is home to a large variety of wild flowers and plants, many of which are to be found in no other country. In spring and late autumn will confront a wild blossoming of colour, with many poppies, buttercups and anemones extending as far as the eye can see, while the Troodos Mountains are home to spectacular orchids and other rare endemic species.

Of the 20,000 or so orchids known as botanists, some 45 species are to be found in Cyprus and one of these the Kotchy's bee orchid is distinctive to the island. Cyprus features some 130 endemic plants of which 45 are found only on the high slopes of the Troodos Mountains.


Centaurea akamantis

The best time to see the wild flowers is in early spring (February and March) when most of the species enjoy a short period of blossoming and take advantage of the usually moist climate at this time of the year. There is a second period in late autumn (October and November) when flowers can also be enjoyed.

The main areas for flower spotting are the slopes and summit region of the Troodos Mountains and the Akamas Peninsula. In order to get the best out of flower spotting, enthusiasts will need to spend plenty of time walking and searching carefully since many species are limited to small geographic areas, sometimes to only a few hundred square metres.


Orchis Anatolica Troodi

Orchids are the most popular wild flowers for enthusiasts. The one endemic orchid-Kotschy's bee orchid is an exquisite species looking much like a bee both in its shape and patterning. The Troodos helleborine, while not endemic, grows mainly on the slopes of Mt. Olympus. Other orchid varieties include the slender, pink-coloured Troodos Anatolian orchid, the cone shaped pyramidal orchid, the giant orchid and the colourful woodcock orchid.

The subtle white and yellow Cyprus crocus from the Iris family is an endangered species protected by law and is found commonly at high altitudes in the Troodos Mountains. The delicate, dark red Cyprus tulip is another rare species also protected by law and is today restricted to the Akamas Peninsula.

Less stunning but still distinctive Cypriot flowers are the three-coloured chamomile, the purple rock cress and the hard to miss Cyprus cotton thistle, which makes its appearance during the long hot summer months.

 

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