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Garrigue or phrygana is a type of low, soft-leaved scrubland ecoregion and plant community in the Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub biome. It is found on limestone soils around the Mediterranean Basin, generally near the seacoast, where the climate is moderated but with annual summer drought. (See Mediterranean climate.) The term has also found its way into haute cuisine, suggestive of the resinous flavours of a garrigue shrubland.
Habitat and vegetation
UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre described garrigue as "discontinuous bushy associations of the Mediterranean calcareous plateaus, often composed of kermes oak, lavender, thyme, and white cistus. There may be a few isolated trees."
Aside from dense thickets of kermes oak that punctuate the garrigue landscape, juniper and stunted holm oaks are the typical trees; aromatic lime-tolerant shrubs such as lavender, sage, rosemary, wild thyme and Artemisia are common garrigue plants.
The aromatic oils and soluble monoterpenes of such herbs leached into garrigue soils from leaf litter have been connected with plant allelopathy, which asserts the dominance of a plant over its neighbors, especially annuals, and contributes to the characteristic open spacing and restricted flora in a garrigue. The fines (charred wood and smoke residues, or charcoal dust) of periodic brush fires also have had an effect on the patterning and composition of the garrigues. Clear summer skies and intense solar radiation have induced the evolution of protective physiologies: the familiar glaucous, grayish-green of garrigue landscapes is produced by the protective white hairs and light-diffusing, pebbled surfaces of many leaves typical of garrigue plants.
Maquis is broadly similar to garrigue, but the vegetation is more dense, being composed of numerous closely spaced shrubs. Maquis is associated with siliceous (acid) soils.The plant communities are often suites associated with Holm Oak. Calcifuges such as Erica and Calluna are present in the Maquis biome.
Garrigue is discontinuous with widely spaced bush associations with open spaces (often extensive). Garrigue is associated with calcareous plateaus (limestone and base rich) and calcium associated plants. Both garrigue and maquis are associated with Mediterranean climate. However, the distinction is not clear and term use is inconsistent. Other terms, for instance Matorral, give rise to confusion through misunderstandings.
Deforestation of the indigenous oak forest since the Late Bronze Age, for cultivation of olives, vines and grain, the introduction of sheep and especially goats and charcoal-making for heat and iron-working, exposed the land surface to weathering and resulted in erosion of the topsoil. The wild garrigue, then, is a man-formed landscape. The intensity of grazing pressure has had a direct response in the ecotope, reflected today in the decline of goat-pasturing.
Garrigue is a common general word for the shrubland habitat ecosystems in France along with maquis, which are known elsewhere as: phrygana in Greece; tomillares and matorral in Spain; and batha in Israel.
In California a similar Mediterranean climate ecoregion is called chaparral; in South Africa, fynbos; in Australia, mallee, and in Chile, matorral. All are in the Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub biome.
Origin of the word
First cited in the French language in 1546, the singular word garrigue is borrowed from the Provençal dialect of Occitan garriga, equivalent to old French jarrie. Etymologist Oscar Bloch states that it is most likely related to the Gascon carroc, meaning rock and to the Germanic Swiss Karren, a kind of sedimentary rock. These related words could stem from a supposed carra, or rock, which could be a remnant of a pre-Latin language, to judge from its geographic distribution even before Celtic times, and possibly akin to Basque *karr-, harri, 'rock'. It is thought that Gallic and Latin incorporated these words and then transmitted them in various forms to the Romance languages.
The dense, thrifty growth of garrigue flora has recommended many of its shrubs and sub-shrubs for gardens. Many shrubs and flowering perennials of the garrigue are mainstays of the English "mixed border" of herbaceous and woody plants found in English gardens and around the world, though often grown under cooler, moister conditions.
Grapes that are grown in the garrigues region of France are said to produce wines with a "barnyard" or "earthy" tone, or "the herbal scent of lavender that fills the hills of Provence in the summer time."  Some wines bottled in Southern France contain the word Garrigues as part of their appellation or label name.
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- Bienvenue sur le site officiel de l'office de tourisme de la région de Sault
- UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre, "European Forests and Protected Areas: Gap Analysis", 2000 (pdf file)
- John D. Thompson, Plant Evolution in the Mediterranean (2005:148ff).
- Z. Henkin et al., "Suitability of Mediterranean oak woodland for beef herd husbandry" Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 109.3/4, (September 2005:255-261).
- Bloch, Oscar, Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue française, p. 275.
- Bloch, Oscar: "Garrigue," page 270, Dictionnaire Etymologique, Paris, 1950
- "Wine Tasting Report: Chateau Saint Martin de la Garrigues 1997 Bronzinelle Coteaux du Languedoc". Wine Lovers Page. March 2000. Retrieved March 2010.
- "Garrigues en pays languedocien" (in French). Ecologistes de l'Euzière. 2007. Retrieved March 2010.
- Shield, Peter. "History of the Garrigue". Southern Times. Retrieved March 2010.
- Braudel, Fernand. The Mediterranean in the Age of Philip II I:
- Garrigue, une histoire qui ne manque pas de piquant, Ecolodoc Template:Numéro7 - Éditions Écologistes de l’Euzière, avril 2007 ISBN|978-2-906128-20-0
- Hubert Delobette, Alice Dorques, Trésors retrouvés de la garrigue, Le Papillon Rouge Éditeur, 2003 ISBN|2-9520261-0-6
- Renault, J.-M. (2000): La Garrigue - grandeur nature. - Barcelona: Les créations du Pélican.
- Stéphane Batigne, Arnavielle, une famille des garrigues, Mille et une vies, 2008 ISBN|978-2-923692-01-2
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