Fauna and Flora of Crete
The climate and the landscape make the Region of Chania a paradise for thousands of plants and animals. Lilies of the sea (pancratium maritimum), lavdano (lavdanum), cyclamen (cyclamen creticum), Cretan tulips (tulipa cretica), maple (acer creticus). The endemic and unique dittany (origanum dictamum), malotira (fideritis cretica) and matzourana (origanum maiorana), are medicinal brewing plants which are abundant.
On the Omalos Plateau you also can find stamnagathi (cihorium spinosum). Dried or freshly cut, these special medicinal herbs can be found in the Public Market or local shops. There are over 1742 unique Cretan plants, 10% of which exist only in the region of Chania. The proud Cretan “kri- kri” – mountain goat- (capra aegagrus cretica) lives freely only in the Samaria Gorge. There and elsewhere, you can see Cretan eagles (aquila chrysaetos) and partridges (alectoris chukar). Ferrets, skunks, weasels, hares, hawks etc. can also be seen in open places. The Authorities have also expressed the intention to protect an area along the north shores , particularly on the beaches from Platanias to Kolymbari, especially for (caretta-caretta) turtles that live there.
Cretan Herbs and Aromatic Plants :
The Island of Crete is famous for the herbs and aromatic plants which grow everywhere :on the mountains and hillsides( mainly self-sown) , in special cultivated fields or even on the seaside. Many of them are endemic , known since ancient times for their healing qualities. These days , of course, they are not used for medicinal reasons so much , but they are brewed –especially “malotira”, “diktamos”, sage, or “matziorana”- and make exceptionally aromatic beverages. Apart from this, the particular taste and aroma of Cretan cuisine foods flavoured with these herbs cannot be disregarded easily.
DIKTAMOS (Origanum dictamnus)
Endemic Cretan herb also called “erondas”(=love) and “stamatohorto”. Well known centuries ago, it was used to stop bleeding and for the healing of external wounds.
SALVIA or SAGE (Salvia fruticosa)
One of the most widespread Cretan herbs, one with an exceptional aroma. It blooms in May and June with tiny lilac- blue flowers. Its invigorative properties have been known for centuries. In cooking, it is mainly used to add flavour to various foods especially meat.
MANTZOURANA (Origanum microphyllum)
It is in full bloom in July and August . It is picked during these months when it is at its best. It is used for pharmaceutical purposes , for flavouring foods and in perfume making. Its properties are similar to those of thyme and it was widely used in ancient times for ailments of the nervous system. If brewed with “malotira” it makes an excellent beverage , ideal for treating colds .
MALOTIRA (Sideritis syriaca)
It is also known as mountain tea , well known all over Greece. It is usually self-sown on mountainous ground especially on high mountain tops where sheep and goats graze on it. As a beverage, it helps soothe stomach aches, it is ideal for treating colds and also as a diuretic.
OREGANO (Origanum vulgare ssp hirtum)
Almost everybody is familiar with this herb which blooms and is picked in June and July. Its tiny white blossoms give off a sweet, peppery smell making it extremely useful in flavouring food, as an antiseptic, in soothing toothaches and stomach aches and, last but not least , in making perfumes.
THYME (Coridothymus capitatus)
It is a medicinal plant , consumed by bees and also used in cooking for flavouring.
Τhe ”lily of the Sea” (Pancratium maritimum)
The plant is also reproduced by the “potatoes” it produces, but despite its reproductive capacity it is often destroyed by the human activities on the coasts, including moto-cross on the sand.
The fragrant blossom of this plant, which is at risk in the Mediterranean coasts due to the tourism or other «develppment», inspired with its beauty the ancient artist who skillfully painted it at the region Akrotiri in Santorini, as it was revealed about 2.500 years later by the archaeological excavations.