The seasons have a big influence on the
Cretan landscape. The land is verdant in spring following
the winter rains, and burnt-out yellow and brown hues in
autumn after the rainless, scorching summer. Crete -
halfway between Europe and Africa – has unique flora.
There are at least 120 plants endemic to Crete.
Unfortunately, the Cretans do not take the protection of
nature as seriously as they could, but they are slowly
Flowers Crete: Many tourists visiting Crete in spring have come
only to see its extraordinary wild flowers. From March
until May, flowers abound across Crete. Most impressive
are the many wild orchids, the different amounts of
species of which are uncountable. They come in different
colours, shapes, forms and sizes; some are more than a
metre high. You can also spot wild tulips, red poppies,
anemones, peonies and all sorts of other flowers.
Herbs Crete: in spring and summer you can smell herbs in the
country everywhere. The most famous herbs here are Cretan
dittany (diktamos), oregano, thyme, rosmary, sage, bay,
lavender and mint. Most interesting of these is probably
Cretan dittany, which is a kind of mint which can be drunk
like tea. If you get the chance to, you should try a cut.
In ancient times through to the 20th century Cretan
dittany was regarded as an important medicinal herb which
could be put on wounds. The herbs are cheapest at markets,
and can be bought in tourist shops at higher prices.
You’ll also find them in the Old Towns of Rethymno and
Trees Crete: Until 2000-3000 years ago, Crete was covered with a
huge forest. Today only 3% of Crete can be described as
‘forested’, mostly in the west. In other parts of Crete
the forest has been replaced with a semi-desert with some
bushes. The most famous Cretan plant is the Cretan Palm
Tree (Phoenix Theophrasti). This species of palm is unique
to Crete, and grow only next to fresh water.
The fresh fruit of the fig trees (Ficus Carica) taste
execellent. The Zelkova, a member of the deciduous family
of trees, is also unique to Crete. Tourists from the north
of Europe may also find the Carob (Ceratonia Siliqua),
Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus Globulus), Cypress (Cypressos
Sempervirens), Strawberry (Arbutus Andrachne), Olive (Olea
Europaea) and various oak trees interesting to spot. In
village squares and city parks many are impressed by big
Mulberry trees and Sweet Chestnut trees (Mores Ingra and
Castenada Satire respectively). Walnut and Almond trees
are also a common sight across Crete.
Agricultural Plants: Due to Crete’s dry and mountainous,
there is not much cultivation of wheat, corn or potatoes.
Olives, wine, oranges and lemons characterise the
landscape in much of Crete. You’ll see plenty of
fruit-bearing trees, producing apples, pears, peaches,
figs, cherries and apricots. In the last few years kiwi
fruit and avocados have been introduced. The name of
Crete’s second biggest city, Chania, comes from the Greek
word for quince (Cyronic). The most important vegetables
are tomatoes, cucumbers and beans. Cotton, tobacco and
peanuts were cultivated in Crete in former times, but not
in modern times.
Beekeepers have been in Crete since Minoan times. The
honey from remote areas is the best; the wild thyme and
other plants that the bees go to make Cretan honey the
best in Europe.