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Springtime in Chilean matorral a few kilometers north of Santiago along the Pan-American Highway

Matorral is a Spanish word, along with tomillares, for shrubland, thicket or bushes.[1] It is used in naming and describing a Mediterranean climate ecosystem in Southern Europe.

Mediterranean region[edit]

Matorral originally referred just to the Matorral shrublands and woodlands ecoregion of the global Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub Biome in the Mediterranean climate regions of Spain and other Mediterranean basin countries. These scrub shrublands and woodlands are a plant community and a distinct habitat. Other common general names for this Mediterranean region shrubland habitat ecosystem are: in France as Maquis and Garrigue; in Italy as Macchia Mediterranea; in Greece as Phrygana; in Portugal as Mato; and in Israel as Batha. Now the term is used more broadly to include similar bio-assemblages where ever they occur.

In Portugal, the term mato or matagal is used to refer to the scrublands, or heaths, that formed on the Cambrian and Silurian schists in the north and central parts of Portugal.

Mediterranean Matorral shrublands are often part of a mosaic landscape, interspersed with forests, woodlands, grassland, and scrublands.[2][3]

The Americas[edit]

The term matorral followed Spanish colonization of the Americas, and is used to refer to both Mediterranean (climate) woodlands and scrub,[4] and xeric shrublands ecosystems in Mexico,[5] Chile,[4] and elsewhere.

There are Chilean Matorral areas in central Chile, including portions of La Campana National Park.

The Portuguese term mato was imported to colonial eastern South America, where it was used to refer to the great scrublands, savannas, and flooded grasslands region called the Mato Grosso, in present-day western Brazil.

Popular usage[edit]

The regional Mexican band Los Tigres Del Norte used the term matorrales, the plural form of matorral, in their now-famous song "Pacas De A Kilo," an example of the infamous narco-corridos or drug ballads.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Velazquez, Mariano (comp.) (1973) "Matorral" A New Pronouncing Dictionary of the Spanish and English Languages (rev. ed.) Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, p. 431
  2. ^ Arroyo, J. and Maranon, T. (March 1990) "Community Ecology and Distributional Spectra of Mediterranean Shrublands and Heathlands in Southern Spain" Journal of Biogeography 17(2): pp. 163-176
  3. ^ Lavorel, Sandra (1999) "Ecological Diversity and Resilience of Mediterranean Vegetation to Disturbance" Diversity and Distributions 5(1/2): pp. 3-13
  4. ^ a b Jiménez, Héctor E. and Armesto, Juan J. (December 1992) "Importance of the Soil Seed Bank of Disturbed Sites in Chilean Matorral in Early Secondary Succession" Journal of Vegetation Science 3(5): pp. 579-586, p. 579
  5. ^ Camargo-Ricalde, Sara Lucía; Dhillion, Shivcharn S. and Grether, Rosaura (October 2002) "Community Structure of Endemic Mimosa Species and Environmental Heterogeneity in a Semi-Arid Mexican Valley"Journal of Vegetation Science 13(5): pp. 697-704