Landscapes - Forests of Andalucia

Spanish Forests Andalucia  © Michelle Chaplow
Clockwise: Spanish Fir, Pinsapo, Sierra Bermeja, Estepona. Acorn fed pigs, Sierra De Aracena. Cork Oak Harvest in the Alcornocales park, Cadiz. Evergreen grees in the village of Valdearco, Sierra de Aracena, Huelva. The central image, a fern Grazalema. ( Click to enlarge image). © Michelle Chaplow

Forests of Andalucia


Andalucia has a magnificent variety of flora and fauna, thanks to its location between the African and European continents and between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic oceans. Not only that, but its topology and geology all contribute to the fact that it has the highest number of species of flora and trees in Europe.

 

Most of the Andalusian forests are on the Mediterranean, rather than Atlantic coast and include cork and evergreen oak, with undergrowth rich in species such as myrtle, bramble, rosemary, and arbutus, among others. The main characteristic of the Mediterranean climate is dryness in summer with irregular rainfall during the rest of the year. The vegetation has had to adapt to these conditions, so the typical forests are evergreen, with cork oaks for example. If you were to climb a mountain, you would see the vegetation change, from deciduous to coniferous leaves and in the highest regions, very thorny, bushy vegetation.

One of the botanical stars is the "pinsapo" (Abeis pinsapo) or Spanish fir. This tree, a heritage from the glacial past, has survived until today, along with gall-oaks, pines, evergreens and cork oaks.

Along river valleys there is a rich variety of deciduous trees such as the polar (álamo), ash (fresno), willow (sauce), maple (arce), elm (olmo) and alder (aliso), as well as reeds (juncos) and bullrushes (eneas).

In areas such as the Sierra Morena and Parque Natural Los Alcornocales there are extensive woods where two types of useful oak - the cork oak and the holm or ilex oak. Every nine years the cork oak's thick outer bark is stripped. The holm oak can be pruned about every four years and the off-cuts used for charcoal. Meanwhile livestock can graze the pastures and during the autumn, pigs are turned out to gorge on the fallen acorns - a diet considered to produce the best ham of all.

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