Flora and Fauna
It is estimated that Lesvos flora includes 1400-1500 plants (taxa). This natural richness is partly due to the variety of habitats on the island, the quality of rock formations, the long-term human impact, the proximity to Asia Minor (Turkey) and its geologically recent separation from the eastern Aegean.
The southeastern part of the island is full of olive groves. It is the most extensive system on the island and shows clear differences in altitude, age of trees, their population density and the underlying vegetation.
On the island there are also extensive forests of trachea pine trees (pinus brutia ten). A second type of pine, the black pine (Pinus nigra) forms two smaller forests, mixed with trachea pine trees. The first one is at the top Psilokoudouno, between Plomari and Agiasos and the second one is on top of Mount Prophet Elijah near the village Pterounta.
In the area of Agiasos one can observe the only large chestnut tree forest (Castanea sativa) which is found on the island of Lesvos. This is a cultivated area too, with rich forest floor and significant regeneration. The chestnut trees generally grow in the middle mountainous zone among other deciduous trees. Chestnut lands are found south of the village of Agiasos, in the area of Sanatorio (8,000 hectares – 20,000 trees).
The yellow rhododendron (Rhododendron Luteum Sweet) is also a rare shrub found in the woods between Parakoila and Anemotia. The only endemic plant on the island is the Lesbian alyssum (Alyssum lesbiacum). There is a great variety of wild orchids, cyclamens, poppies, crocuses and peonies that compose a unique feast of colours in spring.
Other species found in Lesbian countryside are the wild-olive (Olea oleaster), myrtle (Myrtus communis), oleander (Nerium oleander), the strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo), the kermes oak (Quercus coccifera), the Pink Rock-Rose (Cistus creticus), the tree heath (Erica arborea), the laurel of Apollo or bay laurel (Laurus nobilis), the weaver’s broom (Spartium junceum), the downy oak or pubescent oak (Quercus pubesteus) etc.
In the woods, the olive groves and the plains, many mushrooms, especially the pefkiti or amanites (lactarius deliciosus) grow during autumn months
Aromatic herbs of all kinds such as oregano, savory, thyme, sage, mountain tea (bitonikas or Sideritis), lavender, peppermint, spearmint, lime leaves, marjoram, lemongrass etc. are in abundance on the island.
The Petrified Forest is located in the northwest end of the island, near the village of Sigri. The systematic study of petrified trunks and leaves has shown the type and genus of plants that participated in the composition of the Lesvos forest 20 million years ago. The petrified plants include conifers, angiosperms-flowering plants and some pteridofytes.
The conifers include ancestral forms of Sequoia, pine, cypress, yew and other rare species for which there are no modern descendants. Many petrified trunks belong to ancestral forms of the modern species of Sequoia sempervirens, which grows on the west coast of the United States. There have also been identified families of Protopinaceae, which are an ancestral form of modern pine trees, of Cupressaceae and of the rare conifer Kounichamia the Miocene.
The Angiosperms-flowering plants include representatives of the types of poplar, laurel, cinnamon, plane, oak, beech, palm, alder, brier, maple and walnut. A lot of palm trees have been also identified.
The research work of the Natural History Museum of the Lesvos Petrified Forest in the last ten years has revealed different vegetation zones in the area of the Petrified Forest of Lesvos, thus composing the paleoflora that existed in the region 20 million years ago.
The composition of the petrified flora indicates that the Petrified Forest of Lesvos developed in a subtropical climate. This changed suddenly into a continental climate with plants characteristic of the subtropics of Southeast Asia or America.
The geographical position of the island is the main reason for its rich fauna.
The most important mammal of Lesvos is the Persian Squirrel (Sciurus anomalus), a species that lives on the coast of Asia Minor. It is known to locals as Galia.
The ruddy shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea) is rare in Greece and nests in the area of Achladeri.
Weasels, ferrets, foxes, hares, hedgehogs, bats, all kinds of mice and rabbits that we find around the rocky islets of the island compose the population of mammalian fauna.
In recent years, wild boars to a large extent, as well as roe deers and deers, live and breed on the island.
In Lesvos there are also the amphibians: green frogs, tree frogs, the eastern spadefoot or Syrian spadefoot and the green toad.
A great variety of reptiles, terrestrial and amphibious turtles and the unique in Greece “Ottoman viper” live in the mainland.
In the wetland of Larsos the existence of the otter (lutra lutra) is certain.
There are species that are typical of Eastern Europe and the Middle East, such as the Krüper’s Nuthatch (Sitta krueperi) and Cinereous Bunting (Emberiza cineracea). The Krüper’s Nuthatch exists only in Lesvos and nowhere else in Europe. It is rare and is mainly found in pine forests, from the sea to the highest peaks, in the area of Mount Olympos, Achladeri and Akrassi. The Cinereous Bunting (Emberiza cineracea) is rarer and you can observe it in Eressos, Olympus and Agra.
Other important species are: the black stork (Ciconia nigra) with a few couples on the island. They nest in the pine forests in the area of Akrassi, in Achladeri and in Potamia Valley. In Lesvos there are also white storks (Ciconia ciconia) that have decreased in recent years.
On the islets of Lesvos the Audouin’s gull (Larus auduini) nests and reproduces, a priority species, globally threatened, with special arrangements for the protection of its population. We also note the Eleonora’s Falcon (Falco eleonorae) and the Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni), a worldwide threatened species which presents an extremely worrying trend.
The mountainous chukar partridge of the island (Alectoris Chuvar), which is raised as hunting prey, is particularly interesting
The wetlands of Kalloni and Gera are also rich and important ecosystems for birds. Rare aquatic birds nest in the Kalloni Bay, such as Flamingos (pink flamingos), Black-winged Stilt, Pied Avocet, Eurasian Stone-Curlew, Little Bittern, Kingfisher, Collared Pratincole, Western Marsh Harrier, Tern, Little Tern, etc.
Other rare species that nest on the island are: Rüppell’s Warbler, Olive-tree Warbler, Olivaceous Warbler, Pied Wheatear, Rufous-tailed scrub Robin, Masked Shrike, Sombre tit, Western rock Nuthatch, Cretzschmar’s Bunting, Long-legged Buzzard, Levant sparrowhawk and Alectoris chukar.
Important areas for birdwatching in Lesvos are the following: the area of Olympus, Kalloni, the Gulf of Geras, Prinovouni, the area of Akrassi, the area around Vatera, the Lepetymnos area, Agiasos, Sigri, Eressos, Petra, Skala Polychnitos, Agra, Potamia, etc.Flora and Fauna