Plants of the Cres and Losinj archipelago - flora
In ancient history, before the human activity started to influence the nature in this area, the whole island was covered by oak woods, predominated by evergreen Holm-oak and downy oak. Today only small areas of these woods can be found, because they were replaced by large areas of rocky ground with more than 300 different plants.
Man was not the only factor that influenced the today's structure of vegetation. For thousands of years, the climate and soil composition, as well as strong winds (bura), have been transforming the original look of the area.
It is interesting to note that on all islands in the Cres and Losinj archipelago there are around 1,500 different plants, 300 more than on the entire territory of Great Britain. This Kvarner area is rightfully said to be interesting and unique, with a significant number of rare endemic and relict plants.
Two basic vegetation zones are submediterranean (hardwood) and Mediterranean (evergreen). The first zone features the downy oak and oriental hornbeam, while the second includes evergreen Holm-oak woods. The border between them, located around Merag, is presumably one of the most distinctive vegetation phenomena in Europe.
Around 50% of the island of Cres is grasslands and rocky ground, now used for sheep grazing. On the area near St. Peter's there is an oak tree around 1,000 years old. The foot of Osorscica contains around 700 different plants, which make two thirds of the Losinj flora. These plants are classified as Mediterranean, but on the mountain tops and hills there are also plants characteristic for continental parts of Croatia.
Between the Liska and Studencic Cove, we can find the evergreen macchia with the kermes oak woods, a rare tree protected by the Law on the Protection of Nature, which here reaches its highest northern geographical point. An abundance of rosemary bushes is found here, and this area is also their highest northern geographical point.
Across the entire area of the islands we can find dry stone walls, built in order to prevent the erosion of the land and separate the olive groves, as well as to separate the plots of land of various land owners.
The surrounding islands
The island of Unije, also called "The Flower Island", contains around 600 types of plants, predominantly evergreen, such as dense Holm-oak woods, macchia and dry pastures for sheep grazing. The island of Susak has a warm Mediterranean climate, which in combination with sandy soil, generates an interesting form of vegetation. The island features vineyards and fields of reed. The island of Oruda is famous for its fields of wild olive trees.