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Flora in Pantelleria

The vegetation in Pantelleria is extremely complicated, if compared to the other circumsicilian islands. From the sea level up to 250 mt of altitude, there is the low scrubland or gariga referable to the community of Periploco-Euphorbietum aspalathoidis; besides we find a shrub-arboreal vegetation with pine forests of Pinus pinaster and P. halepensis, mixed with Quercus ilex, which forms part of the Pino-Genistetum aspalathoidis association, along with other species such as Erica spp., Rosmarinus officinalis, Cistus spp., Calycotome villosa and Genistha aspalathoides. At altitudes above 500 mt. and in the valleys, there are forests of Quercus ilex. The climatic vegetation is represented by Quercus ilex, Erica arborea and Arbutus unedo, which are also accompanied by Pistacia lentiscus, Phyllirea angustifolia, Daphne gnidium, etc. The humus layer of these woodland environments host many species belonging to the mesofauna, an index of high diversity both at the level of the bedding and at the first 20 cm of soil, in different areas of the undergrowth.

There are 640 species recorded in 2014, including 13 endemisms and 63 rare and very rare species for the island. The following is a list of the endemic ones:

  • Anthemis secundiramea ssp. cossyrensis, also reported for Maltese island;
  • Filago lojaconoi, reported also for Linosa;
  • Genista aspalathoides var. gussonei, typical of scrublands and gariga;
  • Helichrysum rupestre var. errerae, variety located in the stretch of coast between Suvaki and Punta Tre Pietre;
  • Limonium cossyrensis, found exclusively along the coastal area between Arenella and Punta Tre Pietre;
  • Limonium secundirameum, limited only to the external part of the southern shores of the Specchio di Venere Lake;
  • Matthiola incana ssp. pulchella, typical subspecies of the Pantelleria rocky coastal areas;
  • Medicago truncatula var. cossyrensis, found in arid and uncultivated lands;
  • Plantago afra ssp. zwierleinii, also found in the Pelagie and Maltese Islands, typical of uncultivated and arid pastures;
  • Sedum rubens var. cossyrensis, typical of rocky places, even with very little land;
  • Senecio leucanthemifolius var. cossyrensis, typical of uncultivated lands near the sea;
  • Serapias cossyrensis, an orchid typical of the most advanced stages of the succession of the Mediterranean scrub from 300 mt to 836 mt of Montagna Grande;
  • Trifolium nigrescens ssp. nigrescens var. dolychodon, typical of arid and uncultivated lands.

From a phytosciological point of view, the main community of the island is represented by the Mediterranean scrub and by holm oak woods of Quercus ilex (ballùtu), some of which are centuries old. In the higher areas, Pinus pinaster (maritime pine, zappínu) is dominant, considered one of the oldest biodiversity reservoirs of the species. Along the most arid and south-facing stretches of coast prevails Pinus halepensis (Aleppo pine, déda or zappínu mánzu). Most of the territory is occupied by the low bushy scrubland, dominated by Erica, Pistacia, Calycotome, Cistus, Arbutus unedo (strawberry tree, mbriákuli) etc. In the drier or more wind-swept areas, close to the sea, the low scrub gives way to garriga, with xerophytic species, adapted to the chronic lack of water such as Thymus capitatus, Rosmarinus officinalis, Thymelaea sp.

Other typical elements are the vegetation of the Bagno dell'Acqua lake, a volcanic crater that hosts a hygrophilous grassy and bushy vegetation typical of brackish wetlands, and that of the cliffs, typically halophilous and xerophytic. To these are added the very special communities of thermal environments, mostly dominated by microflora (cyanobacteria) and hygrophilous species.

(photo by Andrea Belvisi)
(photo by Andrea Belvisi)

(photo by Parco Nazionale Isola di Pantelleria)
(photo by Andrea Belvisi)
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