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Mediterranean Vegetation

 

This is an essay about vegetation typical of a Mediterranean climate. In this essay you will find out about how plants survive and multiply in a dry heat and the different types that exist. I will also compare Mediterranean vegetation with that of a colder climate.The regions that we will be looking at are those that border the Mediterranean sea. These are, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Greece, Albania, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia, Italy, Monaco, France, and Spain. Island states within the sea are Malta and Cyprus. Other large islands, from west to east, are the BALEARIC ISLANDS, CORSICA, SARDINIA, SICILY, and CRETE.In the Mediterranean area, the natural vegetation is xerophytic, or drought resistant, and consists of cypress, cork oak, scrub evergreen, olive, and low bushes. A vegetation of trees and scrub brush in this region is called maquis. The soil is often reddish in colour, indicating a high iron content. The low amounts of rain in this region result in little leaching of the soil, and the humus content is low from lack of leaf fall.Shrubs and bushes have very good defences against the heat and lack of water during the four summer months when rainfall is low. Examples of the shrubs and bushes are :-French lavender, a member of the mint family, is a shrub known for its fern like leaves and purple flowers. Several varieties of lavender are grown commercially for their fragrant flowers, and are used in perfumes, toilet preparations, and medicines.Licorice, a Mediterranean herb, is related to the pea. Its root contains a substance that is 150 times sweeter than table sugar. Licorice-root extracts are used to flavour food, beverages, tobacco, and drugs such as cough syrup.The evergreens make up the bulk of the Mediterranean tree types. Their leaves often have a heavy cuticle or waxy coating. Year round leaf retention may be beneficial during winter or during periods of drought when absorption of water is difficult and evaporation from the leaves has to be reduced. Conifers constitute a major grouping of evergreens but a typical Mediterranean drought resistance tree would be the olive.The olive, a handsome, long-lived, evergreen, subtropical tree, has been cultivated for at least 40 centuries for its edible fruit and its valuable oil. It is native to the eastern Mediterranean region where its culture may have been begun by Semitic people as long ago as 3500 BC. Wild olive trees still exist in countries in southern Europe and northern Africa bordering on the Mediterranean Sea.Citrus fruits and grapes are also grown in the Mediterranean as are a variety of vegetables and deciduous fruits, many of which find a market in the densely populated areas of industrial northern Europe. More than 90 percent of all cultivated grapes are varieties of V. vinifera, the Old World or European grape, which produces most of the world's wine.The vegetation of a temperate climate such as exists in Great Britain differs from the Mediterranean in that there are many more deciduous trees, no citrus trees which are sensitive to low temperatures and grapes will only grow in the warmer areas in the south of the country.The vegetation of this country has to be able to withstand a greater range of temperatures from below freezing to above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This excludes a large number of exotic fruits and flowers which are cold sensitive. On the other hand they do not need to be resistant to drought.