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Plants and Animals

Plants and Animals


The variety in landscape is accompanied by an equally large variety in vegetation. To the east, less and less grows. In the desert, thorny bushes, grasses and many annuals bloom just after rainfall. When the sun starts shining again, this vegetation withers quickly and only the toughest shrubs, such as heather, goosefoot, tamarisk and thistle, survive. Jordan is home to many endemic plants.

Spring is the high season for flowers and plants in Jordan. From February to May, at least, if there is sufficient rainfall, more than 2000 species of flowers and plants grow throughout the country. After dry, warm winters, however, many flowers and plants do not even bloom.

Jordan used to have extensive forests, but these have largely disappeared due to overexploitation. Especially the highlands of Jordan are still covered with approximately 65,000 hectares of forests where pine trees, cypresses, acacias, butterfly trees, imported eucalyptus trees and evergreen oaks grow.

The vegetation is mainly steppe, poorer or richer depending on the amount of rainfall. Reforestation is complicated by erosion, karst phenomena and the many sheep and goats that eat up new plantings.

The national flower of Jordan is the black, actually deep purple, iris, which can be found especially around Madaba.


Jordan's wildlife includes about 70 mammal species and subspecies, 73 reptile species, 150 bird species, 4 amphibian species, 20 freshwater fish species and 1,000 fish species in the Gulf of Aqaba, including spectacular fish such as butterflyfish, parrotfish, clownfish, balloonfish, lionfish, as well as starfish, seahorses, sea urchins and sea anemones.

The sparse animal world has a Mediterranean character on the coast, but a typical (Arabic) desert character inland. Large predators and ungulates have a harder time of it due to the decrease of prey and grassland.

The group of large mammals consists mainly of (domesticated) horses, donkeys, goats, sheep, dromedaries, cows, dogs and cats. In the desert areas there are also desert foxes, jackals, caracals, hares and gerbils, a kind of rodent. Lizards are numerous, including the famous blue lizard, as well as some turtles and scorpions; snakes are rare.

Large groups of migratory birds (about 200 species) regularly land along the oases, especially those of al-Azraq. Many species of small birds of prey are indigenous, including the lesser eagle, hawk eagle and hen harrier. Special birds are the desert lark, sunbird and Bonelli's nightingale.

In several parts of the country, nature reserves have been or are being set up to protect animals from extinction, including al-Azraq and Wadi Araba.nimal-rich is Wadi Rum, a valley north-east of Aqaba. It is home to, among others, the Palestinian red sparrow, the Egyptian vulture, the griffon vulture, and mammals such as the desert fox, Asiatic jackal, striped hyena, desert hare, ibex, hedgehog, gerbil, klipdas and jerboa or desert jumping mouse. Watch out for the Palestinian adder, one of the most poisonous snakes in the Arab countries.

Shaumari (22 km2) was Jordan's first game reserve. It was created to save one of the most endangered animals in the world: the Arabian oryx. In 1978, eight specimens were flown in from the Phoenix Zoo in Arizona; by 1999, the herd had grown to more than 200 animals. Shaumari is also a breeding centre for the Persian onager, the crop gazelle and the ostrich.


Allan, M. / Reishandboek Jordanië en Syrië

Grünfeld, R. / Syrië, Jordanië en Libanon

Haan-van de Wiel, W.H. de / Jordanië, Syrië

Jordanië, Syrië

Meijer, R. / Jordanië : mensen, politiek, economie, cultuur
Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen : Novib

Rauch, M. / Jordanië
Van Reemst

Weiss, W.M. / Jordanië

Wills, K. / Jordan
Lucent Books

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated April 2024
Copyright: Team The World of Info