Flora of Italy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
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.


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]


See List of herbaria in Europe.


The Department of Biology of the University of Trieste houses the National Data Bank for the Italian Flora and Vegetation.


Habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation are the most significant threats to plant species that occur in Italy. Also changing water flow patterns and over-extraction, increasing droughts due to climate change, pollution and the introduction of alien species threaten the flora. Other threats come from farming (as a result of agricultural expansion and intensification), urbanization and tourism.[5]


Italy is a signatory to the Berne Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats and the Habitats Directive both affording protection to the fauna and flora of Italy.

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

  • Tutin T.G. et al., 1964-1980. Flora Europaea, Cambridge University Press
  • Ansaldi M., Medda E., Plastino S., 1994. I fiori delle Apuane, Mauro Baroni & c. s.a.s., Viareggio
  • D. Aeschimann; K. Lauber; D. Martin Moser; J. P. Theurillat. Flora Alpina. Bologna, Zanichelli, 2004. ISBN 88-08-07159-6

External links[edit]