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Plants and Animals

Cities in CRETE


Popular destinations GREECE


Plants and Animals


Crete has about 2000 plant species and many of them are found only on Crete, such as the Cretan ciste rose, the Cretan iris, the Cretan pipe flower, the Cretan sword lily and the diktamo, related to our majoran. The rarest species are found in the mountains. Wild herbs are mainly found in the mountains, including sage, marjoram, thyme and tarragon.

Thyme, CreteThyme, CretePhoto: Davidbenu CC 4.0 no changes made

Most of the forests in Crete have disappeared in the course of time. Many forests were cut down for the shipbuilding industry and also the goats that grazed everything bare have created a largely bare stone landscape (phrygana). Only shrubs grow here (spurge, rosemary, lavender, fennel) and smaller types of trees like holm oak and the occasional cypress and pine tree. Flowers only grow here in spring if there has been enough rain. These include anemones, wild narcissus, tulips, orchids, mimosa, lupins, sunflowers, affodils and irises. Olive trees can withstand drought and can be found in many places.

Olive Tree, CreteOlive Tree, CretePhoto: Jerzy Strzelecki CC 3.0 no changes made

In the valleys, oak, maple and poplar trees can still be found here and there. Imported palm trees thrive along the coasts of Crete. A tourist highlight is the date palm forest of Vai on the north coast. Eucalyptus, cypress, carob, plane and chestnut trees also grow along the coast. Almond trees, the metre-high American agave (aloe) and oleanders can be found everywhere. In the valleys you can still find oak, maple and poplar trees here and there.


Kri Kri CreteKri Kri CretePhoto:Wannes in the public domain

The animal world of Crete is very similar to that of Greece. Only the increasingly rare Cretan mountain goat or kri-kri (also: agrimi) occurs exclusively on Crete. The Cretan spiny vole is also unique to Crete, as are the Cretan wildcat and the Cretan badger. Common animals are bats, martens, hedgehogs and weasels. Scorpions, four species of snakes including one viper, lizards and geckos are common on Crete. There are no tortoises on Crete, but there are marsh and sea turtles. The Mediterranean sea turtle can still be found on the beaches of West Crete. The chameleon is found in Greece only on Crete.

Cicada, CreteCicada, CretePhoto: Sputniktilt CC 4.0 no changes made

The cicada, a kind of cricket, can be heard all day long with its piercing sound. Insects such as beetles, crickets, mosquitoes and grasshoppers are richly represented.

The seas around Crete are practically empty of fish. Swordfish, mackerel, barbels, sardines, octopus and squid are still served in restaurants. Crete has quite a few bird species, both native and migratory. Vultures, buzzards and eagles fly above Crete, looking for prey or carrion.

Bearded Vulture, CreteBearded Vulture, CretePhoto: Richard Bartz CC 2.5 no changes made

The bearded vulture in particular is an impressive sight. Remarkable are the rock hawk that lives on the many bare rocks and the Rüpell's warbler that lives in the fields. Along the coast in the lagoons, the little egret, the avocet and the marsh harrier can be found.


Buma, H. / Reishandboek Kreta

Hendriksen, B. / Kreta
Babylon-De Geus

Lubsen-Admiraal, S.M. / Kreta

Strijbos, E. / Kreta

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Last updated June 2024
Copyright: Team The World of Info