Why there is all this talk about Greek flora? There are many different reasons, but in brief: it is the geographical position of the country, which enriches the flora with elements from the Balkans, Anatolia, central and north Europe, even north Africa, and its geological past that led to the creation of islands, high mountains, gorges, peninsulas and valleys. These formations, combined with the great diversity of the micro-climates, created a great variety of habitats, where you can find an enormous diversity of plants.
So, why should you visit Greece in its blooming period?
1) The vast flora. More than 6500 plant species are waiting for you. Learn about one of the richest floras in Europe by walking on picturesque paths or driving in the exquisite countryside of Greece.
2) The endemism. You can meet some of the 1462 endemic taxa of the country that you won’t see anywhere else in the world. Greek flora is unique and there are more than a thousand reasons to evince it.
3) The orchids. If you are an orchid-lover, Greece is the place for you: 19 orchid genera, 143 species and subspecies, 26 species endemic of Greece and countless other rarities and hybrids of this fascinating family.
4) The plants of special interest. Apart from the orchid family, there are many other families or genera with specific botanical interest, such as the fritillaries or the peonies. You can even take a journey to the past by meeting the representatives of the Gesneriaceae family, relicts of an era when Europe’s climate was closer to tropical.
5) The medicinal plants. What do Theophrastus and Hippocrates, an ancient philosopher and a doctor, and Vikogiatri, practical doctors from NW Greece, have in common? The use of medicinal plants to cure diseases. Learn about a tradition that lasts 2500 years and connects antiquity with modern pharmaceutical industry, by taking a glance at Greece’s great natural pharmacy.
5+1) The overall beauty. Even if we overlooked the richness, the uniqueness and the rareness of Greece’s flora, there is something that would be imprinted in any visitor’s mind: the beauty of the Greek flowers. Olive groves full of anemones, yellow and purple crocus-carpets on the mountain meadows, flaming red-tulip fields, but even the delicate elegance of a single wild flower, one of many that someone can see in the sunny Greek countryside, make a colorful, blooming mosaic that no one will ever forget.
Article and images by Katerina Goula, biologist and blogger. In her blog “Plant hunters” she lets her readers explore the flora of Greece.
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