We invite you to join us for a wonderful week of Greek island weather and wildlife!
Greece is a botanist’s paradise. There are around 6,000 plant species. On top of that, more than 700 species are endemic to Greece. This degree of endemism makes it almost unique in Europe!
In Greek mythology the island of Rhodes belonged to Helios (God of the Sun). Helios requested from Zeus and the other Gods for any land that was to rise from the sea to become his. As he spoke a beautiful island slowly emerged from the bottom of the blue sea, Rhodes. Helios bathed Rhodes with his own radiance and made it the most beautiful island in the Aegean Sea. Indeed, it is blessed with over 300 days of sunshine a year and spring is a wonderful time to appreciate the natural beauty of this jewel in the Aegean!
Rhodes, the capital of the Dodecanese group of islands in Greece, is situated just off the western coast of Turkey. Therefore, it is blessed with an interesting mixture of east Mediterranean and Asian flora and fauna. Although the island is a popular destination for sun and beach loving tourists, there is much natural beauty to discover, if one takes the time! The island is blessed with 1,500 recorded plant species, including well over 50 species of Orchid – an impressive list for an island only 80km long and 30km at its widest point.
Rhodes has many varied biotopes, a factor in the distribution of Orchids on the island, including significant coverage of Pine forest and phrygana. It is one of the best Greek islands for orchids, with a large list of diverse and interesting species, particularly in the genus Ophrys. A visit in spring means meadows ablaze with flowers and alive to the tune of insects and the fluttering of butterflies. The forest floors are also decorated with a dazzling display of Orchids and other flowers. The wildlife and warm weather form a winning combination for a relaxing week of botany. We will of course look at anything else of interest, be it birds, butterflies, or anything else that catches our eye!
Our base for the week will be a family run hotel in a traditional village, nestled at the foot of the island’s highest mountain. From here we’ll embark on daily adventures around the island, followed by relaxing evening meals at our hotel and also in traditional village tavernas, serving local Rhodian dishes, alongside all the usual Greek favourites.
We will find orchids in a variety of habitats including old Olive groves, phrygana, river edges and forested mountain slopes. In the company of Yiannis, our expert botanist, we will tour many parts of the island. Yiannis will lead us to hidden glades and secret corners to show us as many different species as possible. We will of course be looking for some of the local specialities, such as the Colossus Orchid and King Ferdinand’s Orchid, also known as the Earwig Orchid. The island has over 40 Ophrys species recorded, including several which are either endemic or local to the region.
The topography of Rhodes can best be described as moderately hilly, with the highest mountain, Attavyros, reaching 1,215m. During our week on Rhodes we’ll climb to between 600-800m, where there are some fantastically rich floristic areas to explore and the plants to discover include some Rhodes specialities! The Rhodes Paeony Paeonia clusii rhodia, a strikingly beautiful rare and endemic white flowered Peony is one such plant. The perfume from its blooms fills the forest air and it really is a treat for the senses! Another is the Rhodes Fritillary Fritillaria rhodia, an elegant and delicate endemic species. Beneath large and impressive Cypress trees, the forest floor is also carpeted with delicate endemic Cyclamen Cyclamen rhodia. On the limestone cliffs of Mount Attavyros we’ll also see the fascinating Star Thistle Centaurea lactucifolia, endemic to Rhodes and nearby Halki Island.