Flora of Italy

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Sicilian Fir, a critically endangered species endemic to Sicily

The flora of Italy was traditionally, estimated to comprise about 5,500 vascular plant species.[1] However, as of 2004, 6,759 species are recorded in the Data bank of Italian vascular flora.[2] Geobotanically, the Italian flora is shared between the Circumboreal Region and Mediterranean Region. According to the index compiled by the Italian Ministry for the Environment in 2001, 274 vascular plant species are protected.

Geography and floral composition[edit]

The native vegetation of Italy reflects the diversity of the physical environment:geology, altitude, climate.

Italy consists of a 1,000 km (620 miles) long peninsula extending out into the central Mediterranean, together with a number of islands to the South and West. The Apennines run north-south through the peninsula connecting the Alps in the North to Etna and the Peloritani mountains in Sicily in the South.

Northern Italy is dominated by the Alps and extensive valley of the Po river which is extensively agricultural and industrialised.

Central Italy includes the regions of Tuscany, Umbria, Marche and Lazio. It is dominated by the Apennines, from which a few major rivers flow. There are few natural plains. A process of land reclamation has replaced the coastal swamps and marshes with agricultural land.

Southern Italy includes the regions of Abruzzo, Molise, Apulia, Basilicata and Campania. Agriculture and industry are less developed.

The main islands are Sicily, Sardinia and the Aeolian Islands.

Each region has a distinct flora.

Broadly there are three different vegetational zones in Italy:

1.evergreen vegetation: maquis shrubland (macchia mediterranea) with plants and bushes that always have leaves on. This flora is typical of the dry mediterranean climate, especially along the coast and in the islands. The most common plants are olives, maritime pines, oaks, myrtles, junipers.(Mediterranean South)

2.broad-leaved vegetation ( oaks, beeches, chestnuts): it is typical of the mountain region with a humid climate ( Apennines and Prealps). Temperate.

3.coniferous vegetation ( larches, pines, firs): it is an evergreen vegetation typical of the alpine and high Alps area. Temperate.

Ecoregions[edit]

Carlo Blasi et. al. identify and map 2 Divisions (Temperate and Mediterranean) , 13 Provinces, 33 Sections and approximately 80 Subsections.Each unit has an alphanumeric code that indicates its hierarchical level and a full name that indicates its geographic location and main diagnostic factor.[3]

Species richness[edit]

The Iberian Peninsula and Balearic Islands have around 7,500 vascular plant taxa (species and subspecies) (Castroviejo 2010 Flora Iberica), followed by Italy with 6,711 (6,759) species (Conti et al., 2005 An inventory of vascular plants endemic to Italy). In Greece, the number of species is around 5,700 (Strid and Tan, 1997 Flora Hellenica) and in France, there are 4,630 species (Walter and Gillett, 1998 1997 IUCN red list of threatened plants). Per unit area Greece is the country with the highest concentration of native plant species.

Endemic species[edit]

Italy has 1371 endemic species and subspecies (18.9% of the total vascular flora).[4]

Notable floras[edit]

Herbaria[edit]

See List of herbaria in Europe.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]