Spain contains many of the Mediterranean plant species of Europe; plants of Spain include deciduous and evergreen trees, orchids and aromatic herbs of lavender and thyme.
Spain is a vast and varied land of lush, green countryside, desert-like scrub, idyllic coast lines and mountainous regions; Spain is the second largest country in western Europe. Spain is comprised of approximately 505,000 square kilometers of land and covers 84% of the Iberian Peninsula; it is the highest country in Europe, after Switzerland. Spain also includes the Balearic islands of Mallorca, Minorca, Ibiza and Formentera.
Considering the varied landscapes and elevations, Spain is a country of varying climates. Summers can be extremely hot in Madrid and the south of Spain; winters can be extremely cold in Madrid, the Pyrenees and northern Spain. It is in the spring and summer seasons when many plants, flowers and trees are abundant in Spain.
Spring and Summer Flowers of Spain
At high elevations, such as the Pyrenees and the Sierra Nevada of Andalucia, many flowers begin to bloom in early spring, as the snows melt. The Pyrenees have 150 unique plant species and the Sierra Nevada mountain range has approximately 60 unique plant species; plants include crocuses, orchids, sun dews and narcissi. Many orchid species are found in the Picos de Europa and Serania de Cuenca regions in the Sistema Iberico.
Orchids of Picos de Europa
The Picos de Europa are a range of mountains situated in northern Spain, approximately 20 kilometers from the coast; the Picos de Europa are part of the Cantabrian Mountains. From approximately May to early July, many plant species can be found in the Picos de Europa; in particular, there are many orchid species including:
Bird’s-nest orchid ( Neottia nidus-avis)
Lesser butterfly orchid (Platanthera bifolia)
Frog orchid (Coeloglossum viride)
Pink butterfly orchid (Orchis papilionacea)
Giant orchid (Barlia robertiana)
Bee orchid (Ophrys apifera).
Macquis Scrub of Spain
Macquis scrub is the name given to plants which thrive in areas where there is no agriculture or forests; macquis plants are often aromatic herbs, such as lavender, thyme and rosemary, or other shrubs such as gorse, heather, juniper and the strawberry tree. Macquis scrub plants are much the same as the macchia plants of Italy.
Forests of Spain
Evergreen, or coniferous, forests are often found in the mountains of Spain; many are used for commercial purposes. Common evergreen tree species found in the mountains of Spain include scotch pine, silver fir and the umbrella pine. In western Andalucia, it is possible to find the Spanish fir, although this particular fir species is often difficult to locate.
Evergreen oak tree species found in Spain include the cork oak and the ilex or Holm oak (also found in Italy). Deciduous tree species are found at lower elevations in Spain; the beech tree and the Pyrenean oak tree grow in northern Spain, preferring the cooler, damper climate. Orchids also grow on the forest floors.
The Many Plants of Spain
Plants and flowers of Spain are found in many varied places. Beneath the scrub, flowers such as iris, gladioli and orchids may blossom; even in the hot, dry climates of southern Spain, in spring and early summer, certain areas may be ablaze with color, after rainfall. Spain (including the islands) contains approximately 8,000 of Europe’s 9,000 plant species, naturally making the country of particular interest to many botanists.