Flora of North Cyprus

Flora

As Cyprus enjoys the Mediterranean climate the natural flora of the Island is rich and interesting to the botanist, as well as to the uninitiated.

The Summer visitors to the Island will be struck by the apparent barrenness of the plains and foothills which are frequently bare of trees for miles. This seeming infertility derives from the fact that the greater part of the lowland flora consist of winter annuals. The Island, being in the Eastern part of the Mediterranean, does not get enough rainfall in Summer. But the animals to be found in the island have a wide-spread origin. Some can also be found in North West Europe, while others can be found in South Africa.

In trying to describe the flora of the Island, it is advisable to look first at the forest trees. The most wide-spread species of forest trees, are natural pine, Cypress and oak. Eucalyptus varieties have also been introduced to the Island. Forests in the Island are confined to the Southern massif and the Kyrenia range.

The Southern foothills of the Kyrenia range and most parts of the Island are covered with evergreen shrubs. These shrubs are mostly common in the coastal regions. Two of the commonest of these shrub varieties, particularly well developed in the Karpass area are: Juniperus Phoenicea and Pistacia Lentiscus. In place the foeristically rich scrubs, cistus calycorome, lithospermin and lavandula occur.

Though the lowlands are yellow and brunt in the Summer months, within a week of the beginning of the rainy season the fields and foothills are covered with new vegetation. In Cyprus the autumn and winter annuals are very quickly followed by the spring flowers, so that one thinks that there are not two flowering seasons in the Island but one long flowering season.

The first flowering plants are scillas, grape hyacinths, encus, calchicucun and narcissus serotinus, followed, at the new year, by one of the loveliest of the Cyprus endemics, Romulea tempskaya with its star like flower in colours varying from deep purple to pure white.

Also in this season, cyclamen persicum presents a very beautiful scene at the foot of the Karpass and Kantara. In march and April the wild anemones and the lilies of the field, with great variations in colour and form, begin to flower. The Southern slopes of the Kyrenia range present a magnificent view with blankety coverings of these flowers. Meanwhile, in cultivated fields near Myrtou (Camlibel) wild tulips are abundant; and in other parts of the lowlands, narcissus tazetta can be found in abundance.

At the end of April and the month of May, though the central plains are getting hot and dry the Northern slopes get a beautiful covering of flowers. Most common are wild orchids and about half a dozen species of ophrys with the red and white flowered cistus

As much of Cyprus is under cultivation, indigenous animals are reduced in number: and in some cases have become varieties confined to odd corners of the Island.