FLORA & FAUNA
FLORA Crete is one of the islands in the Mediterranean, which is quite rich in vegetation. Although there are very dry summers, there are growing more than 1.500 different kinds of plants.
In the ancient times Crete was well known for the primeval forest with cypresses and cedars, which is supposed, that the whole isle was covered by them. But this is the past. Especially the robbery of natural sources during the middle age and the previous five centuries has caused a big damage to the former green island. In the present the excessive goat- and sheep breeding prevents the renewing of the forests.
But still it is a never forgettable experience to visit Crete during spring time, while it is presenting itself in flowering meadows with thousands of poppy flowers, wild tulips, anemones and rare kinds of orchids. Until June the yellow flowering broom is lining many mountain roads. The gorges are dominated by white and rose oleander and the villages and cities are decorated with bougainvilleas, hibiscus and magnolias.
The most common plants for agriculture are vine and olive trees, orange, lemon and mandarin trees, which are flowering with sweet smells. Also apple, pear, peach and apricot trees are adding their part to the orgy of smells. Since a couple of decades Crete is also the home of a kind of bananas. They were grown either in greenhouses or even outdoor - mostly found in the southeast of the island, as the climate there is more steady.
A lot of wild herbs like oregano, thyme, marjoram, sage, rosemary and a many more can be found all around the isle.
Many plants, which are found today, played important rolls in the ancient Greek mythology: for example the giant fennel.
The most common trees beside the olive tree are the Aleppo-pine, plane tree, cypress and chestnut tree as well as tamarisk and juniper-tree.
FLORA Domestic cattle like goats, sheep and donkey belong to daily life. However wild animals are found very seldom due to the missing forests and the hunting passion of the Greeks. The most famous wild animal of the island is the Cretan wild goat, which is living only in secluded areas of the Samaria gorge. It can jump up to 15 meters and is a beautiful animal with brown, short hair fur, the males are carrying imposing horns.
There is a big variety of birds, various kinds of singing birds, silver and gray herons, different kinds of owls and in the mountain-ranges birds of prey like eagles, falcons, buzzards and hawks.
Since thousands of years between June and September sea turtles are coming to several beaches of the island to dig their eggs. In the meantime those breeding places are protected by international organizations.
And last but not least there are millions of insects, all kind of bugs and butterflies can bee watched and during the hot summers the obtrusive call of millions of cicades can be heard all over the island. By the way: it is only the male, which is producing that noise. This made an old philosopher saying the following: "Happy must be the cicades. Their women are dumb..."