Botanical Routes

In terms of Flora, Chania is a very interesting place since you can encounter many rare species that are endemic to Crete as well as plants with important aromatic, pharmaceutical, bee feeding and ornamental attributes. These plants are in various places of the rich habitat of the prefecture depending on the particular ecoclimatic needs of each species.

Area A': Elafonisi – Beach up to Krios Cape

The area is rich in rare endemic plants of Crete, like the beautiful lily with white and green –red flowers that bloom in spring, the Bellevalia brevipendicellata a plant that is only found in this area. Here we will also find the famous Cretan herb Diktamo (Origanum dictamnus) an endemic plant with aromatic and pharmaceutical qualities. Diktamos is widely used in Crete as an infusion for stomach and intestinal problems, Amoebae, colds and as an antiseptic. Diktamo extract is also used for the production of an alchoholic drink by the famous company Martini who remains the largest buyer of Diktamo.
You can encounter other endemic plants on hillsides like Verbascum arcturus and Petromarula pinnata, which is edible. Oregano grows in large numbers (Origanum vulgare ssp. Hirtum). The famous herb is an aromatic, medicinal and bee feeding plant that is widely used in cooking. Its essential oil is its main medicinal ingredient that is rich in "carvacrol" a higher alcohol with strong antibacterial attributes. Oregano is mainly used for flavoring. Its essential oil has antioxidant properties and is used in the food industry as a preservative.

Another plant that can be found in the area is Thyme (Coridothymus capitatus) with unique aromatic, medicinal and bee feeding properties. Thyme's essential oil is used for flavoring in the food industry. It is also mentioned in Italian, French, German and Swiss Pharmacology as an antiseptic, anticonvulsant, vermicide, and antitussive . It is also a great bee feeding plant in terms of quantity and dispersion in Crete but also in terms of the quality of the produced "thyme honey". At the streams close the monastery you can see the plants Tamarix tparviflora and Nerium oleande, known as Sfaka in Crete, these plants have very toxic leaves, branches and even flowers.

The cluster of cedar trees (Juniperus oxycedrus ssp macrocarpa και Juniperus phoenicea)that can be found in the area is definitely worth observing. The wood from all species of Juniperus is redish with and does not rot making it appropriate for the crafting of water vessels and various other objects. The distillation of the branches gives us an essential oil mainly used in veterinary medicine. The distillation of various types of Juniperus is used for the flavoring of Gin.

In the historic islet of Elafonisos you can find impressive formations of cedar trees. There are two types here: Juniperus oxycedrus ssp macrocarpa και Juniperus phoenicea that cover a sandy area creating a small rare forest. The rare plants Androcymbium rechingeri και Ipomoea stolonifera , that grow in less than 100 locations in Europe, can also be found here. Lastly don't pass up the opportunity to see the magnificent sea lilly (Pancratium maritimum)as well as the endangered succulenta ssp. succulenta, endemic of Crete and Viola scorpiuroides, that is rare not only in Crete but in all of Europe.

Area B': Elos – Topolia – Sassalos – Agios Dikeos.

You can see elm trees in Topolia, but your senses will be heightened if in spring you find yourself close to the Topolia tunnel and see the bloomed sides of the gorge and the endemic Ploumi Ebenus creti that is of unique beauty and probably the most beautiful shrub in Greece. You can also see wild sage (Salvia pomifera) with its beautiful white blossoms as well as the familiar thyme (Coridothymus capitatus) Pink rock rose (Cistus creticus), Aspalathos (Calicotome villosa), Schinos (Pistacia lentiscus) and Carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua.)

Further down towards the gorges bed you can see the fragrant myrtle (Myrtus communis) large clusters. Myrtle is dedicated to the Goddess Venus. The rare endemic species of Centaurea argentea, και Centaurea redempta that grow in the sides of the gorge are of great botanological interest.

Continuing on the road we pass under a cave where the quaint chapel of Saint Sophia is, at the village Katsamadato, and passing by chestnut trees (Castanea sativa), plane trees (Platanus orientalis), Tree heaths (Erica ardorea) that blossoms in Spring and Erica manipuliflora that blossoms in Autumn, Strawberry trees (Arbutus unedo), that stand on the side of the road, we reach the magical Elos that along with the neighboring villages of Vlatos, Rogdia, Limni and Strovles are an oasis of vegetation and life. The chestnut trees that produce the famous Cretan chestnuts are sure to impress you. Elos, the head of the nine villages is the heart of chestnut production in Crete. There are also many Tree heaths and strawberry trees from which the famous "koumaroraki" was made. You will also see the snowdrop bush with its beautiful white, fragrant, spring blossoms.

The beautiful and tall trees in the area (Plane, chestnut etc) are entangled by Ivy (Hedera helix) that is used as a homeopathic remedy against sinusitis, rickets and cataract. Its fruit is toxic and causes rashes. The leaves are believed to help burns to heal. Its wood is used in the construction of the Cretan lyra and its Autumn blossoms provide bees with pollen and nectar. It would be disrespectful not to mention the next species of our journey: the blessed olive tree (Olea europea) that produces many types of tasty olives and olive oil of exceptional quality that is the main source of the locals' income. In addition to the wild vegetation of the area, if you look "under" the trees and shrubs you will see rare and protected endemic species like Lathyrus neurolobus, Carex cretica και Symphyamdra cretica with is beautiful baby blue flowers that classify the area on the first level in terms of botanological interest. As we ascend towards the summit we will see the Brassica cretica ssp cretica a rare plant that grown on cliffs and chasms and has only been found in Greece and Lebanon.

More About Rea Hotel

Rea Resort Hotel in
Chania, Crete, Greece

Stavros, Akrotiri, Chania
Tel:  +30 28210 39001-4
Fax: +30 28210 97504

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