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The maquis

The scrub forest, referred to by the Italians as maquis and by the French as maquis  today largely determines the picture in the entire Mediterranean area and has become the natural habitat of most European tortoises.


For thousands of years, the entire Mediterranean has been shaped by human cultivation and use. Large parts of the formerly extensive forest cover were already cleared in an uncontrolled manner in pre-Christian times. What remained was the macchia, between 1.5 and 10 meters high, which today, as secondary vegetation, covers entire stretches of land.  


From the sea, the macchia also spreads inland in large parts in valleys and hills up to about 1000 meters.


The dense, thorny, spiky and hard-leaved bushes spread a unique scent, which comes from the essential oils and spicy resins produced to protect against evaporation.

The trees and bushes are sometimes so dense that they dispute each other for space and light. For us humans, the macchia is largely inaccessible, which is why the turtles can still lead an undisturbed life there.

Macchia 7.jpg

Mainly stone oak (Quercus ilex) and cork oak (Quercus suber L.) but also small pines (Pinus ssp.), Turpentine pistachio (Pistacia terebinthus L.), boxwood (Buxus sempervirens), wild olive tree (Olea europaea L.), Carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua L.) and fig tree (Ficus carica L.) are often bush-like together with shrubby, mostly evergreen, leathery bushes such as tree heather (Erica arborea L), mastic (Pistacia lentiscus L.), narrow-leaved stone linden (Phillyrea angustifolia), myrtle (Myrtus communis L), strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo) and various mostly extremely prickly shrubs such as holly oak (Quercus coccifera L.), thorny gorse (Calicotome villosa), thorny beagle (Sarcopoterium spinosum) or rigid umbel (Echinophora spinosa L.), dog rose Rosa ssp.) And blackberry (Rubus ssp.).

The leaves of these shrubs and lower trees (xerophytes), which are sometimes evergreen, are small and narrow, often covered with a layer of wax or hairs or developed into needles and thorns. With the minimum of surface area and the waxy, hairy coating, the plants prevent water loss through excessive evaporation.

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