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MaltaWildPlants.com - an online flora of Malta by Stephen Mifsud (2002-2013)
[Species Index]
[A-Z Index & Search Tool]
[Flower Colour Index]
[News and Updates]
[Author publications]
[Sponsors and Adverts]
[FORUM]
[Botanical Glossary]
[Public Relations]
[Visitor's Comments]
[Eclectic Materia Medica]
[Protected species]
[Funghi and Fauna of Malta]
[Credits]
[Email]

  • The Maltese garrigue
  • Maltese Rock-Centaury
  • Sandarac Gum Tree
  • Maltese Yellow Kidney Vetch
  • Sea Daffodil
  • Rough Poppy
  • Italian Bugloss
  • Spotted Milky Orchid
  • Maltese Spider Orchid
  • African Wolfbane
  • Southern Dwarf Iris
  • Maltese waterwort
  • White rockrose
  • Rice grass
  • Sulla
  • Barbary nut iris
  • Burr medick
  • Hoary willowherb
  • White willow
  • Spanish vetch
  • Ferns
  • Myrtle
  • Prickly pear
  • Water Germander
  • Olive-leaved bindweed
  • Sand crocus
  • Narrow-leaved ash
  • Hare's tail grass
  • Crimson dragon's teeth
  • Mediterranean thyme
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All data on this webpage is copyright of Stephen Mifsud / www.MaltaWildPlants.com - (2002-2013)


INTRODUCTION

MaltaWildPlants.com website describes in detail the wild flowering plants growing in the Maltese islands - an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea composed of 5 main islands - Malta, Gozo, Comino, Selmunett and Comino. The biodiversity of plants on these islands is very rich and over 1100 species are recorded from the various habitats of Malta, such as in woodland, maquis, pre-desert scrub, garigue, steppe, wasteland, abandoned fields, walls, cliff edges, valleys, coastal areas, shores, rock pools and sand dunes. I always wished to create a database of the wild plants found in my country with detailed information and high resolution photos. This project started in October 2002 and is kept updated till present. During this time I became a professional qualified botanists and so the information supplied is reliable, of which most is obtained from renowned books and internet sites. Additionally, the layout, presentation, high quality annotated photos, user-friendly navigation, and indexes make this website to stand out received an international award for management and prestige by the Actualidad 21st Century in October 2005.


During 2007-2010, short plant profiles were included in the website for most of the plant species that grow in the wild. Selected species are native wild plants, naturalised plants and other alien plants which can grow in the wild by themselves without the intervention of man. These plant profiles are supplied with general nomenclature and information and illustrated with photos taken during these last years. This ongoing project now offers almost 10,000 images of wild plant species from the Maltese islands. In 2008, a section for the fauna and funghi of Malta was also included, but this is not as comprehensive as the section of flora, and at the moment, this section serves as an introduction to the biodiversity of fauna, funghi and crypotagams in Malta.


Maltawildplants.com features several indices. Themain index, categorise plant species by their botanical families and genera. If this is unfriendly for the amateur, there are four other indices by which plants are listed by their Scientfic Name, English common name, Maltese common name and flower colour. Furthermore there are two search engines, a local one for searching plant names and another one for free text in the entire website, powered by google tools. Hence, a particular plant can be easily found in this website both by the professional and by the green-fingered amateur. There is lot of valuable information about plants that are featured in a full (=detailed) plant profile such as the nomenclature of the plant, botanical information, habitat, sources in Malta, morphological description, medicinal and edible uses, traditional virtues, history, curiosities and dozens of photos. The information is referenced.


Such work cannot be completed in a short time, because there is a vast amount of information to be researched and entered for every plant species. Each detailed plant-profile takes many hours of work apart that required for the organisation of the website structre and its indices, email requests, botanical study and field surveys, taxonomical changes and regular updates. For this reason, I have recently been seeking for sponsorships and adverts to keep my dedication on this project during my free time, as well keeping the website free of charge. I would like to thank past sponsors namely HSBC, MiddleSea Insurance, Strickland Foundation, Malta Nature Tours and MCST, while I send a special thanks to Malta Tourism Authority and AIS who are the main sponsors of this year.


In the meantime, it would be very encouraging if visitors of this project express their comments about this website, perhaps writing how it was useful to them and any further criticism. If you have a company or business and interested to give a financial aid, webadverts are cheap while on a smaller and personal scale one can give a small contribution to keep this project alive. Don't miss the forum section of the site where one can discuss, ask questions or share his knowledge about the wild plants of the Maltese Islands. Finally do not hesitate to contact me to report mistakes or want to add your own information about and plant on this site. Feel free to browse and discover the beautiful biodiversity of the Maltese flora and hope that you do your best, whether a local or a tourist, to safeguard it. About 70-80 species are belived to have gone extinct, and the over-population and fast development of this country is one of the main conservation issues. Observe the laws in connection with the environemnet, namely LN311/2006 and LN200/2011 amongst others. Please observe copyright notices about my work and photos - data on this website cannot be used without written permission from me.






Author, Photographer and Web-administrator
Stephen Mifsud (M.Sc. Biodiv. & Tax. of Plants; Dip. Agric.; Dip. Med. Lab. Tech.; Cert. Field Botany)
Malta.


IMPORTANT NEWS
Oct 2013 Autumn Update (website 11 years old!)
In this update, almost 10 more plant species have been included in the website and few other species have been added images where previously they did not because either they are rare species (and not yet been seen by the author) or species that are new for the Maltese islands (eg. Fumana laevis and Althenia filiformis). Apart that, some 80 images have been added up in some plant profiles, from rare ones to common (eg. the Eucalyptus tree). In the next update more new species are in the que-list and another 100 species of grasses needs to be uploaded in the nearby future.

This introduction page was also redesigned with a new tab-bar navigation (rather than a very long page) and cool animated-intro with music. Code bugs and code improvements were performed in a couple of pages, for example the search page, submission of new info, colour indices, and few faulty plant profiles. Plant families have finally been updated to the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group III, based on genetic relationships rather than artificial grouping as in traditional plant families. The Maltese names have been updated, and about 100 species got their Maltese name in the database. A page for endemic species and website interpretation page was also created in this update. The credits page is now also displayed as a new tab in the home page, and hence more conspicuous. Ten fauna species was added to maltafauna.com to a total of 262 species.

More to come in the following months. This update was brought to you thanks to a number of companies and authorities who supported the website [See more here...] and thanks for few visitors who donated via paypal. Thank you for your support to keep this website ongoing. The website also celebrates it's 11th birthday - first launched on the 24th October 2002 with a 3 plant profiles!

[Back to Latest News]
 
May 2013 Website reopened
Due to lack of financial support the website had to be closed in summer of 2012. It's loss was commented by many including the local media. However, thanks to some support found in Spring 2013, enough funds have been raised to open and maintain Maltawildplants.com. Many thanks to the Malta Toursim Authority (the main sponsor for this year) and all other people who placed a web-advert on this website in order to bring it back to life. Please support this website so it won't come in another situation to be closed again.
[Back to Latest News]
 
Jun 2012 Botanical discoveries and news
During surveys for updating this website, the following plant species which are either very rare, believed extinct or new for the Maltese islands were found: 1) Fumana laevis, a type of yellow-flowering rock rose which is new for the Maltese islands; 2) Zannichellia mayor, a type of valley pondweed that is a new species for Malta; 3) Lemna minuta, a alien duckweed; 4+5) Ophrys lupercalis and Ophrys lojaconoi, two very rare orchids never reported from Malta; 6) Narcissus elegans, a very rare Daffodil; Serapias bergonii, another extremely rare orchid; 7&8) Valantia hispida and Xanthium spinosum, two species thought to be extinct, and finally a new fern to science, i.e. first described from Malta and currently waiting publication. More will be revealed after its publication.
[Back to Latest News]
 
Jan 2011 New data parameters
This update brings up more rare plants and another 600 plant hotos in the website. More importantly, the type Raunkier growth form, the protection status and red listing of all species were featured in this web update.
[Back to Latest News]
 
29-Mar-2010 A new orchid discovered from Malta
Ophrys bombyliflora Link forma parviflora S. Mifsud has been described by the author of this website from a homogenous population of orchids which resembles O. bombyliflora but have flowers that are significantly smaller and some other minor differences. It is currently regarded as an endemic of the Maltese islands unless it will be reported from other countries after the publication of this paper in the Journal of European Orchids (Dec 2009 issue).
[Back to Latest News]
 
13-Jul-2009 Update with a number of Rare plants illustrated
This update brings to your home images of few dozens of plant species that are rare, very rare and few even believed to be extinct (Eg. Xanthium spinosum). About 800 images have been added up in this update! The specifications of the website is now as follows

1034 plant species listed.
840 species illustrated by 3-10 photos each. ( and more to come!!)
8000+ photos online !!!
A Fungi & Fauna page with more than 150 species.

During these 6 months fieldwork research have not stopped and the website is getting more interesting with many illustrated species, discovery of new records of rare species and even that of find new palnt species for the Maltese islands and description of a taxon new to science! More to come in the next update! Many thanks to those few people who submitted photos for the website, which they have been credited. Get your piece of fame and submit plant photos that the website lacks!

Moreover, Maltapost plc have selected images from Maltawildplants.com (Funghi and Fauna page) to make the first collection ever of Fungi Stamps from Malta. MaltaWildPlants.com is exposed on MaltaPost plc website and printed material related to information about the stamp collection (brouchers, posters, etc.)

[Back to Latest News]
 
6-Jan-2009 A Major update of MaltaWildPlants.com - 1000 plants listed !!
Again took long but worth the waiting...

1006 plant species listed.
762 species illustrated by 3-10 photos each. ( and more to come!!)
7000+ photos online !!!
A Fungi & Fauna page with more than 140 species.

The last months of 2007 and Spring 2008 was also the period in which 7 new records of plant species that were discovered for the first time from the Maltese Islands by the author of MaltaWildPlants.com. Apart work and family matters, 2008 was mostle dedicated to fieldwork, and hence the time availale for the website was limited, but nevertheless, here is an important update. Thanks to all supporters, donator, sponsrs, and advertisers.

[Back to Latest News]
 
10-Mar-2008 A Major update of MaltaWildPlants.com - a database driven website !!
The long awaited update is finally launched. After several month of hard work, the website features:

935 plant species listed.
652 species illustrated by 3-10 photos each. (100s more to come!!)
5700+ photos online !!!
Totally redesigned code structure (PHP).
All data is database driven by MySQL.
A redesigned botanical index (split over 25 pages!)
A new Index of Plant Families sorted according their evolution.
A Fauna page with more than 100 species.
A new Upload page to input your photos for those plant species that lack images.

This work was partly sponsored by HSBC Cares for the Environment Fund (2008), Middlesea Insurance plc (2007,2008), and Stricland Foundation (2007). Thanks also for those who advertised on this website and so doing helped the progress of this huge website which brings an honour to our Maltese islands in the eyes of the whole world via the internet as well raising awareness and educate our citizens to take care of our precious natural heritage. Finally would like to thank the additional vouluntary help from my friend Owen Mifsud and Malin Mifsud (my wife).

[Back to Latest News]
 
6-Dec-2007 MaltaWildPlants.com have a Page Rank of 5 (PR5)
The Page Rank is a numeric value that represents how important a page is on the web. It is a range from 0-10 where the higher it gets the better the website is on the internet. I am very pleased to inform you that MaltaWildplants.com have a page rank 5. From 1.6 million websites in the world, only 21,000 c. are currently ranked as PR5. To understand better how prestigious this Page Ranking is, we can compare this value of other popular multi-funded websites in Malta:

Gov.mt: PR7; Mepa Website: PR6; BOV: PR6; HSBC Malta: PR5; DI-VE: PR5; Vodafone Malta: PR5; MiddleSea: PR5; Ekoskola Malta: PR3.
There are only 15-20 sites in the whole world having page rank 10 !!!

To check the PR of a website one can input it in the PR checker tool [ Click here or here ] . To learn more about PR and its relevance to advertisement - [ Check here ]

[Back to Latest News]
 
5-Nov-2007 Discovery of 2 new plant species never recorded from Malta.
Maltawildplants.com brings 2 important discoveries for Autumn 2007, 2 plant species which are never recorded on the Maltese Islands. One of the species - Amaranthus muricatus - can be considered as a casual alien and has a rather widespread distribution in the Mediterranean, while the other, Dactyloctenium aegyptium is much more important discovery, because it is a plant only found in Sicily, and Crete in whole Europe. More details will follow soon.
[Back to Latest News]
 

Web Interpretation and Usage

1: Overview
The main purpose of the MaltaWildPlants (MWP) website is to provide the most detailed showcase of the flora of the Maltese archipelago. The great diversity of plant life can be shown by the fact that approximately one thousand one hundred wild plants have been recorded during the last 160 years. This website aims to provide the visitor with detailed information about the Maltese flora and a number of useful tools which will enhance the visitor`s experience to search or identify plants through this website, in hope to raise awareness to for their safeguard and education.

2: Which plants are featured on MWP
The flora of Malta represents a spectrum of plants principally consisting of cultivated species, casual escapes, accidental introductions, naturalized aliens (recent or archeophytic) and most importantly indigenous and endemic species. MWP should be interpreted as a website featuring all those plants which are found growing in the wild without the direct intervention of man. This is the principle that MWP has adopted for including plants in database. For this reason, MWP includes plants like Solanum lycopersicum (the tomato plant); Musa musa (the banana) or Limonium sinuatum (the wavy sea-lavender) which although they are well known of not being Maltese or even Mediterranean/European in origin, they are occasionally found growing on their own in the wild. This often happens near their source of origin such as abandoned fields, garden escapes or road sides. It is difficult to draw the line between cultivated plants or wild but at any rate, the status of such species is explained in each plant profile so one can note which are native or otherwise. On the other hand, this website does not feature indoor plants or strict horticultural or agricultural plants that are purely commercial and never expected to thrive in the wild.

3: Source of Photos on the website
All photographs were taken from specimens of wild plants growing on the Maltese islands, unless otherwise stated (= very few exceptions such as Ophrys apifera or Otanthus maritimus). See more details below.

4: Taxonomic accuracy
Plant names undergo taxonomic changes with time and may be changed according recent revisions and monographs. It is difficult to regularly revise every single of the 1000+ species present on this website to keep abreast with the latest taxonomic updates, but I have striven to keep the taxa as updated as possible. For example Inula crithmioides became Limbarda crithmioides, Scilla autumnalis became Prospero autumnalis, while Anthyllis hermanniae was circumscribed in few subspecies and the Maltese population was assigned to an endemic, infra-specific taxon - Anthyllis hermanniae subsp. melitensis. You may wish to inform me about any taxonomic updates on MWP so that I can update them without undue delay. This can be done by sending an email or using a form located at the bottom of every plant profile.

5: Audience
I believe that MWP strikes a balance between the needs of both professional and amateur. Academic botanists might find that the information is not technical enough, especially regarding the 'detailed type' of plant profiles most of which were created during the early years of the website (2002-2006). In contrast, some botanical terms may be quite technical and difficult for the beginner to understand. For example, botanists use the term phenology for referring to the flowering time of a species, but using only technical terminology would make the website difficult for the majority of laymen to follow. On the other hand, there are lay terms used during the early years of the website that might better be replaced by scientific ones. Apologies for this inconsistency, but it is the result of hosting a 12 year old website with vast amount of data and whose administrator had started as an amateur and has gradually become a professional botanist.

6: Species and photos featured in MWP
The plants listed in this website include some species which had been reported in the past, but not confirmed or seen recently. Such species are usually those for which images are not provided in the plant profile. This indicates that either these species have become extinct, were misidentified by the authors who originally reported them or simply that I have not seen them (yet!).

Botanical records have been published since 1647 by Francesco Abela, but reliable are reckoned to be the ones published later in the mid 19th century, perhaps that of Stefano Zerafa in 1827-31 being considerd as the first flora for Malta enumerating 644 species. In the last 160 years several botanical works have been published namely that of Grech Delicata (1853), followed by Gulia (1871-77), Duthie (1874-75), Sommier and Caruana Gatto (1915), Borg (1927), Haslam et al. (1977) Lanfranco (several publications in the late 20th century) and number of scientific publications (CMN, Webbia, etc). These are the main sources of species and records for this website.
Important: For scientific purposes, species in this website are photographed after year 2000 and must be considered as valid or substantiated records from the Maltese islands, except for a handful of photos which had been provided by foreigners or taken personally from abroad and duly declared as such in the plant profiles.

Vegetation of the Maltese Islands 
by Edwin Lanfranco

Section Links:   Introduction Evergreen Woods Maquis Garigues Steppe Cliffs
Sand Dunes Coastal communities Saline Marshlands Valleys Other Wetland Habitats Distributed habitats


Introduction 
Due to the position of the Maltese Islands in the centre of the Mediterranean Sea the Maltese flora has affinities with the floras of all the regions of the Mediterranean and thus one finds species with eastern, western and North African affinities. As is to be expected the Maltese flora is most similar to that of Sicily, especially to that of the Hyblean Region (South-Eastern Sicily), to which the Maltese Islands were intermittently attached until about 12,000 years ago. The Maltese vascular flora comprises about 1100 species of which some 800 are presumably indigenous, the rest being naturalised aliens.

The Maltese climate is typical of the Mediterranean region with a wet cool season alternating with a warm dry season. Temperatures rarely fall below 5°C (although grass temperature occasionally falls below zero in winter) and rarely rise above 35°C. The average annual rainfall is 513mm.

The Maltese Islands are composed almost entirely of Oligo-Miocene sedimentary rocks which are largely of marine biogenic origin; there are also a few Pleistocene deposits of non-marine origin. These are highly calcareous thus giving rise to alkaline soils with a pH generally ranging from 7.0 to about 8.5. The Coralline limestones are hard rocks and they give rise to a karstic landscape wherein the effect of rain over the millennia has resulted in a system of depressions in which soil accumulates. Karstlands support a garigue or rocky steppe vegetation. The small size of the Islands coupled with their low altitude (the highest point is only 253m above sea level) means that all parts are influenced by the surrounding sea and soils may be somewhat saline. There is considerable exposure to strong winds, especially north-westerlies [Malt. Majjistral]. Thus the plant life of these islands has to be adapted to withstand all these stresses.

Maltese Evergreen Woods (Maltese: Msaġar u Boskijiet)
The Maltese evergreen woods have been virtually destroyed. The few small populations of the Evergreen Oak (Quercus ilex; Maltese: Ballut), some of great age, are possibly the remnants of woods which existed up to a few hundreds of years ago. The Aleppo Pine (Pinus halepensis; Maltese: Żnuber) had been almost totally destroyed but has been widely replanted and is now regenerating. The maquis vegetation is still widespread, especially on the sides and bottoms of the dry valleys or widien (singular: wied). However almost all our maquis is of secondary origin and is dominated by trees such as the Carob (Ceratonia siliqua; Maltese: Ħarrub) which are not really indigenous but which were introduced in antiquity because of their utility . Other components of the maquis are the Lentisk (Pistacia lentiscus; Maltese: Deru), Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis; Maltese: Rand) and the Olive (Olea europaea; Maltese: Żebbuġ). Due to the drastic reduction in grazing and browsing over the past forty years, there has been some regeneration of maquis and some formerly uncommon species such as Mediterranean Buckthorn (Rhamnus alaternus; Maltese: Alaternu) are starting to increase. Particularly interesting is the Alerce, Arar or Sandarac Gum Tree (Tetraclinis articulata; Maltese: Għargħar), a conifer related to the Junipers. This tree has a Maghrebian distribution with Malta and some areas in southern Spain as the only European stations. Several hundreds of years ago it must have been widespread in the Maltese Islands, judging from medieval Arabic accounts) but it is now rare. It forms a maquis on rocky slopes

Maquis (Maltese: Makkja)
The maquis vegetation is still widespread especially on the sides and bottoms of the dry valleys or widien (singular: wied). However all our maquis is of secondary origin and is dominated by trees such as the Carob (Ceratonia siliqua) which are not really indigenous but which were introduced in antiquity because of their utility. Other components of the maquis are the Lentisk (Pistacia lentiscus), Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis) and the Olive (Olea europaea). Due to the recent drastic reduction in grazing there has been some regeneration of maquis and some formerly uncommon species such as Mediterranean Buckthorn (Rhamnus alaternus) and Terebinth (Pistacia terebinthus) are starting to increase. Particularly interesting is the Alerce or Sandarac Gum tree (Tetraclinis articulata), a conifer related to the Junipers. This tree has a Maghrebian distribution with Malta and an area in Murcia as the only European stations.  Several hundreds of years ago it must have been widespread in the Maltese Islands but it is now very rare. It forms a maquis on rocky slopes. 

The Garigue (Maltese: Xgħari)
The garrigue is the most typical of the Maltese vegetational communities and is characteristic of the karstic rocky regions of the islands. Nevertheless the garrigue community is fast declining due to the incursions of the building industry, new roads, dumping and other forms of habitat disturbance. The most important shrubs of the Maltese garrigues are the Mediterranean Thyme (Thymbra capitata; Maltese: Sagħtar), Mediterranean Heath (Erica multiflora; Maltese: Erika ) the endemic Yellow Kidney-Vetch (Anthyllis hermanniae subsp. melitensis: Maltese: Ħatba s-Sewda), the endemic Maltese Spurge (Euphorbia melitensis; Maltese: Tengħud tax-Xagħri), Tree Spurge (Euphorbia dendroides; Maltese: Tengħud tas-Siġra) and Olive-leaved Germander (Teucrium fruticans; Maltese: Żebbuġ tal-Blat, Żebbuġija). Some rare formations also feature Rock-Roses (Cistus incanus and Cistus monspeliensis; Maltese: Ċistu Rosa, Ċistu Abjad, Borgħom). Herbaceous species are numerous and many of these also occur in rocky steppes and open maquis.

The Steppe (Maltese: Steppa)
Steppic vegetation is very widespread with a great diversity of species. Dominant steppe grasses are Stipa capensis, Hyparrhenia hirta, Andropogon distachyus, Brachypodium retusum, Dactylis hispanica, Trachynia distachya, Aegilops geniculata; Maltese: respectively Nixxief ta' l-iSteppa, Barrum tax-Xagħri, Barrum Aħmar, Għomma, Deqquqa, Għomma Żgħira, Brimba). Thistle steppes are dominated by the Clustered Carline-thistle (Carlina involucrata; Maltese: Sajtun) , a North African species which in Europe seems to occur only on the Maltese and Pelagian islands. The commonest geophyte is the Branched Asphodel (Asphodelus aestivus; Maltese: Berwieq), which is abundant on ground which is frequently burnt or very poor in nutrients, others include the Sea Squill (Urginea pancration: Maltese: Ġħansar) and several species of orchids (Maltese: Ħajja u Mejta, Bajdet il-Fenek, Orkidi) although numerous other species occur. Many steppic species also occur in garrigues and maquis clearings. A particularly interesting steppic community occurs on clay slopes. This is usually dominated by Esparto Grass (Lygeum spartum; Maltese: Ħalfa), Cardoon or Wild Artichoke (Cynara cardunculus; Maltese: Qaqoċċ tax-Xewk) and Sulla (Hedysarum coronarium: Maltese: Silla).

Cliff Communities (Maltese: Rdum)
Coastal cliffs are an important feature of Maltese topography and occur along the south and west of Malta, and much of Gozo and Comino. Cliff flora is especially interesting since it includes many of our endemic species as well as species of North African affinity. Characteristic cliff species are the Maltese Rock-Centaury (Palaeocyanus crassifolius; Maltese: Widnet il-Baħar), Maltese Salt-Tree (Darniella melitensis; Maltese Xebb), the endemic Maltese Sea Lavender (Limonium melitense; Maltese: Limonju ta’ Malta) and Maltese Cliff-Orache (Cremnophyton (= Atriplex) lanfrancoi; Maltese: Bjanka tal-Irdum) all of which are endemic, as well as Caper (Capparis orientalis; Maltese: Kappar), Egyptian St. John’s Wort (Hypericum aegypticum; Maltese: Fexfiex tal-Irdum), Rock Crosswort (Crucianella rupestris: Maltese: Kruċanella) and Sea Carrots (Daucus gingidium ; Maltese: Zunnarija tal-Irdum).

Coastal Sand Dunes (Maltese: Għaram tar-Ramel)
Sand dunes have suffered greatly in the past thirty-five years and their flora has been greatly impoverished. The Marram Grass (Ammophila littoralis; Maltese: Qasba tar-Ramel, Birrun), normally dominating coastal dune communities, seems to have become extinct, although it is possible that it may still be present in the seed bank. The dominant species of extant dunes are Sand Couch (Elytrigia juncea ; Maltese: Sikrana tar-Ramel), Dropseed Grass (Sporobolus arenarius; Maltese: Niġem tar-Ramel ), Sea Kale (Cakile maritima; Maltese:Kromb il-Baħar), Sea Holly (Eryngium maritimum; Maltese: Xewk tar-Ramel) and Sea Daffodil (Pancratium maritimum; Malt. Pankrazju, Ġilju tar-Ramel). Unfortunately several dune species have disappeared during the last decade or so.

Coastal communities (Maltese: Komunitajiet tax-Xtajta)
Low-lying coastal habitats are most often rocky. These are dominated by a variety of halophytic (salt-tolerant) plants. Among the most characteristic are the Golden Samphire (Limbarda crithmoides; Maltese: Xorbett, Xorbebb) which may also be found in saline marshes and other saline communities, Sea Samphire (Crithmum maritimum; Maltese: Busbies il-Baħar), species of Sea Lavender (mainly Limonium virgatum and the endemic Limonium zeraphae; Limonju ), Spiny Chicory (Cichorium spinosum; Maltese: Qanfuda) and Shrubby Glasswort (Arthrocnemum macrostachyum; Maltese: Almeridja) which also occurs in saline marshes and on cliffs.  

Saline marshlands (Maltese: Bwar Mielħa)
This is a rare habitat occurring mainly where water courses open onto the sea or coastal lowlying depressions which retain water. Much of the vegetation of such communities in the Mediterranean is very similar to that of like communities in continental Europe and North Africa. All our saline marshlands have been heavily degraded by human interference, although some of these have been, or are being, rehabilitated as nature reserves. Their vegetation is dominated by various chenopods including Glassworts (species of Arthrocnemum, Sarcocornia and Salicornia; Maltese: Almeridja), Seablite (Suaeda maritima; Maltese: Swejda), Sea Purslane (Halimione portulacoides; Maltese: Bjanka tal-Baħar), Shrubby Orache (Atriplex halimus; Maltese: Bjanka); rushes (Juncus spp.; Maltese Simar) and several grasses such as the Common Reed (Phragmites australis; Maltese: Qasbet ir-Rih).

Water Courses (Maltese: Widien li jżommu l-ilma)
Some valleys support temporary water courses or small permanent springs and here the vegetation is mainly characterised by Reeds (especially Arundo donax; Maltese Qasab), Sedges such as several species of Carex (Maltese: Sogħda), Galingale (Cyperus longus; Maltese: Bordi) and Clustered Club-Rush (Scirpoides holoschoenus; Maltese: Simar tal-Boċċi) and many grasses such as Annual Beard-Grass (Polypogon monspeliensis; Maltese: Denb il-Liebru), Torpedo Grass (Panicum repens; Maltese: Niġem tal-Wied), Tall Fescue (Schedonorus arundinaceus; Maltese: Żwien) . Other characteristic water course plants include the Southern Reed-Mace (Typha domingensis; Malt. Buda) and Clustered Dock (Rumex conglomeratus; Maltese: Qarsajja tal-Ilma).

Other Wetland communities
A few water courses also support some deciduous trees such as White Poplar (Populus alba; Malt. Luq), Hoary Elm (Ulmus canescens; Malt. Nemmiesa , Ulmu), Ash (Fraxinus angustifolia subsp. oxycarpa; Maltese: Fraxxnu) and the Willows (Salix alba and Salix pedicellata; Malt. Żafżaf) all of which, particularly the willows, are rare. This type of habitat, which is now very rare, is referred to as Riparian Woodland.

A peculiar type of wetland habitat consists of temporary pools of rainwater which form in karstic depressions and which support a unique flora and fauna. The flora includes species such as the Water Crowfoot (Ranunculus saniculaefolius; Malt. Ċfolloq tal-Ilma) the sub-endemic Waterwort (Elatine gussonei; Malt. Elatine), the endemic Maltese Horned Pondweed (Zannichellia melitensis; Maltese: Ħarira tal-Ilma), Mediterranean Starfruit (Damasonium bourgaei; Maltese: Damażonju) and stoneworts (Chara and Tolypella species; Maltese: Kara).

Disturbed Ground (Maltese: Art mharbta)
The Maltese Islands were colonised about 7000 years ago by immigrants from Sicily who already had a sophisticated agricultural technology and who eventually created the Temple Culture. Renfrew (in Before Civilisation) estimated that during the Temple Period Malta supported some 11,000 inhabitants. Thus the Maltese Islands have been under heavy anthropic pressure, since their colonisation, to a much greater extent than most other Mediterranean islands of comparable size. Due to the high level of human impact, disturbed habitats have become the most widespread over the islands and their flora includes most of the familiar wild plants. Many of these species are aliens or adventives (i.e. of foreign origin) which have become naturalised over the years.

Thus the most common of Maltese wild plants, the Cape Sorrel (Oxalis pes-caprae; Malt. Ħaxixa Ngliża, Qarsu) is actually a native of South Africa and was only introduced in Malta at the beginning of the nineteenth century. From Malta it has spread all over the Mediterranean and along the Atlantic coast of Europe and can now be found also in the south of England. The Crown Daisy (Glebionis coronaria; Malt. Lellux, Żigland, Bebbuna) is probably native to the Orient, where it is also an important food crop, and was probably introduced several hundreds of years ago. The Narrow-leaved Aster (Symphiotrichum (= Aster) squamatus; Malt. Settembrina Salvaġġa), which has now overrun the country, was only introduced in the 1930s. The Tobacco Tree (Nicotiana glauca; Malt. Tabakk tas-Swar) was introduced as an ornamental, but is now extensively naturalized, especially on building rubble. The same applies to the Castor Oil Tree (Ricinus communis; Malt. Siġra tar-Riġnu) which has spread rapidly and which even invades valleys. Some other very common species of disturbed habitats are Borage (Borago officinalis; Maltese: Fidloqqom), Honewort (Cerinthe major; Malltese: Qniepen), White Wall-Rocket (Diplotaxis erucoides; Maltese: Ġarġir), Yellow Wall-Rocket (Diplotaxis tenuifolia; Maltese: Ġarġir Isfar), Wild Radish (Raphanus raphanistrum; Maltese: Ravanell Salvaġġ), Animated Oat (Avena sterilis; Maltese: Ħafur Kbir), Bearded Oat (Avena barbata; Maltese: Ħafur Żgħir), Wild Barley (Hordeum leporinum: Maltese: Nixxief, Bunixxief). Weeds of arable land include species of Poppy (Papaver rhoeas, P. pinnatifidum, P. dubium; Maltese: Pepprin, Xaħxieħ) and Fumitory (Fumaria spp.; Maltese: Daħnet l-Art).


Supplied by: Edwin Lanfranco, Earth Sciences, University of Malta.
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Endemism

Endemism refers to species that are confined to a country or small geographical region, in our case the Maltese islands. Sometimes, the distribution of endemic species widens to parts of neighbouring countries and territories and are called sub-endemic. In our case these are the islands of Pantellaria, Lampedusa and more importantly Sicily. Strangely, some sub-endemic species are also found in Apulia in mainland Italy. Although some species appear to be common in our islands (e.g. Darniella melitensis, Euphorbia melitensis or Ophrys melitensis), one have to consider that they are confined to single location worldwide, and hence the importance of their protection and conservation especially from habitat loss. Only few endemic species are not protected, those which are very common, easy to regenerate due to the production of many seed, and their habitat is not declining or able to thrive in different habitats. Such examples are Anthemis urvilleana, Chiliadenus bocconei and Allium melitense.

Endemic species are formed mostly by splitting and isolation of a population combined with the effects of different environmental factors (amongst others). The budded population differentiates into a slightly different species from the mother population. The endemism in Malta is low relatively to other Mediterranean islands (Crete, Greece, Cyprus, Sicily, Corsica, Canary islands, etc) and the reason is due to the small size of our islands; the close proximity to continental mainland (Sicily) and low number of habitat niches. With regards to the latter, one have to keep in mind that Malta lack rivers, lakes, volcanic rock, swamps/bogs, high altitudes or brackish water - the latter was more abundant before development of the islands.

ecent study of our flora have given some new endemics such as two species found by the author of the website Polypodium vulgare subsp. melitensis and Ophrys bombyliflora forma parviflora and two other described by Italian scientists (Anthyllis hermanniae subsp. melitensis or Jacobaea maritima subsp. sicula). Two species are assigned to monotypic genera (= genera with only one species): Palaeocyanus and Cremnophyton (although recently, the former have been merged with Cheirolophus and the latter with Atriplex) Below is a list of the known Maltese endemic species and subspecies. A few others have been suggested by pioneer botanists namely Sommier and Caruana Gatto (1915) and John Borg (1927) but their status or presence have not been confirmed at present date. The list below gives endemics which are confirmed and established.

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ENDEMIC SPECIES
Image Plant Family Species Common names Frequency IUCN Red List Status
ASPARAGACEAE
(Asparagus family)
Allium lojaconoi
Brullo, Lanfranco & Pavone  
Eng: Maltese Dwarf Garlic

Mlt: Tewm irqiq ta' Malta
ScarceS Near threatened
ASPARAGACEAE
(Asparagus family)
Allium melitense
(Sommier & Caruana Gatto);  Ciferri & Giacomini 
Eng: Maltese Leek

Mlt: Kurrat ta' Malta
Frequent Not assessed
ASTERACEAE
(Daisy / Sunflower family)
Anthemis urvilleana
(DC.)Sommier & Caruana Gatto
Eng: Maltese Sea Chamomille

Mlt: Bebuna tal-Baħar
Frequent Not assessed
ASTERACEAE
(Daisy / Sunflower family)
Cheirolophus crassifolius
(Bertoloni) Susanna
Eng: Maltese Rock-Centaury

Mlt: Widnet il-Baħar
Scarce Critically endangered
ASTERACEAE
(Daisy / Sunflower family)
Chiliadenus bocconei
Brullo
Eng: Maltese Fleabane

Mlt: Tulliera ta' Malta
Common Not assessed
ASTERACEAE
(Daisy / Sunflower family)
Helichrysum melitense
Brullo, Lanfranco, Pavone & Ronsisvalle
Eng: Maltese Helichrysium

Mlt: Sempreviva ta' Għawdex
Rare Critically endangered
ASTERACEAE
(Daisy / Sunflower family)
Hyoseris frutescens
Brullo & Pavone
Eng: Maltese Hyoseris

Mlt: Żigland ta' Għawdex
Scarce Data deficient
BRASSICACEAE
(Mustard family)
Matthiola incana subsp. melitensis
Brullo Lanfranco Pavone & Ronsisvalle
Eng: Maltese Stocks

Mlt: Giżi ta' Malta
Scarce Not assessed
CAMPANULACEAE
(Bell-flower family)
Legousia hybrida var. foliosa
Sommier & Caruana Gatto
Eng: Venus looking Glass

Mlt: Legwosja
Extinct Not assessed
AMARANTHACEAE
(Amaranth family)
Atriplex lanfrancoi
(Brullo & Pavone) G. Kadereit et Sukhor.
Eng: Maltese Cliff Orache

Mlt: Bjanka tal-irdum
Scarce Critically endangered
AMARANTHACEAE
(Amaranth family)
Darniella melitensis
(Botschantzev) Brullo
Eng: Maltese Salt Tree

Mlt: Xebb
Frequent Not assessed
EUPHORBIACEAE
(Spurge family)
Euphorbia melitensis
Parlatore
Eng: Maltese Spurge

Mlt: Tengħud tax-Xagħri
Frequent Not assessed
Fabaceae
(Pea family)
Anthyllis hermanniae subsp. melitensis
Brullo & Giusso
Eng: Maltese Yellow Kidney Vetch

Mlt: Ħatba s-sewda ta' Malta
Frequent Not assessed
HYACINTHACEAE
(Hyacinth family)
Urginea pancration
(Steinheil) Phillippe
Eng: Sea Squill

Mlt: Basal tal-għansar
Common Not assessed
IRIDACEAE
(Iris family)
Romulea melitensis
Bèguinot
Eng: Maltese Sand Crocus

Mlt: Zagħfran tal-blat ta' Malta
Extinct ? Not assessed
ORCHIDACEAE
(Orchid family)
Anacamptis urvilleana
Sommier & Caruana Gatto
Eng: Maltese Pyramidal Orchid

Mlt: Orkida Piramidali ta' Malta
Scarce Not assessed
ORCHIDACEAE
(Orchid family)
Ophrys bombyliflora forma parviflora
S. Mifsud
Eng: Small-flowered Bumblebee Orchid

Mlt: Naħla tal-fjura żgħira
Rare Not assessed
ORCHIDACEAE
(Orchid family)
Ophrys melitensis
(Salkowski) J.& P. Devillers-Terschuren
Eng: Maltese Blue Orchid

Mlt: Dubbiena bikrija ta' Malta
Frequent Not assessed
ORCHIDACEAE
(Orchid family)
Ophrys iricolor subsp. hospitalis
(P.Delforge) S.Mifsud & L.Lewis
Eng: Maltese Spider Orchid

Mlt: Brimba sewda
Scarce Not assessed
OROBANCHE
(Broomrape family)
Orobanche densiflora var. melitensis
Beck
Eng: Dense-flowered Broomrape

Mlt: Budebbus tar-ramel
Rare Not assessed
OROBANCHE
(Broomrape family)
Phelipanche nana subsp. melitensis
(Beck) Soják
Eng: Maltese Dwarf Sorrel Broomrape

Mlt: Budebbus tal-Ingliża abjad
Frequent Not assessed
PLUMBAGINACEAE
(Leadwort family)
Limonium melitense
Brullo
Eng: Maltese Sea Lavender

Mlt: Limonju ta' Malta
Frequent Not assessed
PLUMBAGINACEAE
(Leadwort family)
Limonium zeraphae
Brullo
Eng: Zerapha's Sea Lavender

Mlt: Limonju ta' Żerafa
Scarce Not assessed
POLYPODIACEAE
(Polypod Fern family)
Polypodium vulgare subsp. melitensis
A. Peroni, G. Peroni & S. Mifsud
Eng: Maltese Polypody

Mlt: Felċi ta' Malta
Very Rare Not assessed
POTAMOGETONACEAE
(Pondweed family)
Zannichellia melitensis
Brullo. Giusso del Galdo & Lanfranco
Eng: Maltese Horned Pondweed

Mlt: Ħarira tal-ilma ta' Malta
Scarce Least Concern
SUB-ENDEMIC SPECIES
Image Plant Family Species Common names Frequency IUCN Red List Status
Amaryllidaceae
(Daffodil family)
Pancratium foetidum
Pomel
Eng: Stinking Sea Daffodil

Mlt: Pankrazju tal-Ħarifa
Very rare Not assessed
Apiaceae
(Carrot family)
Daucus lopadusanus
Tineo
Eng: Lampedusa Carrot

Mlt: Zunnarija ta' Lampedusa
Rare Not assessed
Apiaceae
(Carrot family)
Daucus rupestris
Gussone
Eng: Cliff Carrot

Mlt: Zunnarija tal-blat
Rare Not assessed
Aristolochiaceae
(Sandalwood family)
Aristolochia clusii
Lojacono
Eng: Southern Birthwort

Mlt: Aristolokja
Very rare Not assessed
Apocynaceae
(Dogbane family)
Periploca angustifolia
Labill.
Eng: African Wolfbane

Mlt: Siġret il-Ħarir
Frequent Not assessed
Asteraceae
(Daisy/Sunflower family)
Calendula maritima
(Gussone
Eng: Sea Marigold

Mlt: Suffejra tal-Baħar
Extinct Critically endangered
Asteraceae
(Daisy/Sunflower family)
Calendula sicula
Gussone
Eng: Sicilian Marigold

Mlt: Suffejra ta' Sqallija
Scarce Not assessed
Asteraceae
(Daisy/Sunflower family)
Crepis vesicaria subsp. hyemalis
(Bivona) Babcock
Eng: Beaked Hawksbeard

Mlt: Krepis Sqalli
Very rare Not assessed
Asteraceae
(Daisy/Sunflower family)
Filago cossyrensis
Lojacono
Eng: Maltese Cudweed

Mlt: Kabuccinella ta' Malta
Frequent Not assessed
Asteraceae
(Daisy/Sunflower family)
Jacobaea maritima subsp. sicula
N. G. Passal. et al.
Eng: Sicilian Silver Ragwort

Mlt: Kromb il-baħar isfar
Common Not assessed
Asteraceae
(Daisy/Sunflower family)
Senecio pygmaeus
DC
Eng: Pygmy Ragwort

Mlt: Kubrita nana
Rare Not assessed
Brassicaceae
(Mustard family)
Hymenolobus revelierei subsp. sommieri
(Pampanini) Brullo
Eng: Maltese Hymenolobus

Mlt: Ġargir ta' Kemmuna
Very rare Not assessed
Elatinaceae
(Elatine family)
Elatine gussonei
(Sommier) Brullo; Lanfranco; Pavone & Ronsisvalle
Eng: Maltese Waterwort

Mlt: Elatine
Scarce Least concern
Euphorbiaceae
(Spurge family)
Euphorbia exigua var. pycnophylla
Kramer & Westra
Eng: Maltese Dwarf Spurge

Mlt: Tengħud Irqiq ta' Malta
Scarce Not assessed
Hyacinthaceae
(Hyacinth family)
Scilla sicula
Tineo
Eng: Sicilian Squill

Mlt: Għansal ikħal
Scarce Not assessed
Iridaceae
(Iris family)
Crocus longiflorus
Rafinesque
Eng: Yellow-throated Crocus

Mlt: Żagħfran selvaġġ skars
Rare Not assessed
Iridaceae
(Iris family)
Iris pseudopumila
Tineo
Eng: Southern Dwarf Iris

Mlt: Bellus
Rare Not assessed
Iridaceae
(Iris family)
Iris sicula
Todaro
Eng: Sicilian Iris

Mlt: Fjurduliż Sqalli
Very rare Not assessed
Lamiaceae
(Mint family)
Micromeria microphylla
(D'urv) Benth.
Eng: Maltese savory

Mlt: Xpakkapietra
Frequent Not assessed
Orchidaceae
(Orchid family)
Ophrys caesiella
Delforge
Eng: Maltese Brown Orchid

Mlt: Dubbiena ta' Malta
Scarce Not assessed
Orchidaceae
(Orchid family)
Ophrys calliantha
Bartolo & Pulvirenti
Eng: no common name

Mlt: Dubbiena ta' Sqallija
Very Rare Not assessed
Orchidaceae
(Orchid family)
Ophrys lojaconoi
Delforge
Eng: Lojaconoi's Brown Orchid

Mlt: Dubbiena ta' lojakonoj
Very Rare Not assessed
Orchidaceae
(Orchid family)
Ophrys lunulata
Parlatore
Eng: Moon Spider Orchid

Mlt: Brimba tal-qamar
Extinct ? Near threatened
Orchidaceae
(Orchid family)
Ophrys sicula
Tineo
Eng: Yellow Bee Orchid

Mlt: Żunżana żgħira
Very rare Not assessed
Poaceae
(Grass family)
Desmazeria pignattii
Brullo & Pavone
Eng: Pignatti's Fern Grass

Mlt: Żwien ta' Malta
Scarce Not assessed
Scrophulariaceae
(Figwort family)
Linaria pseudolaxiflora
Lojacono
Eng: Maltese Toadflax

Mlt: Papoċċi ta' Malta
Rare Vulnerable

Few Endangered species in Malta

by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature)


Aristolochia clusii    (a Birthwort)
Euphorbia peplis    (Purple Spurge)
Cremnophyton lanfrancoi    (Maltese Cliff Orache)
Cheirolophus crassifolius    (Maltese Rock Centuary)
Ophrys apifera    (Bee Orchid)
Ophrys lacaitae    (Yellow spider orchid)
Ophrys tenthredinifera    (Sawfly orchid)
Pyrus syriaca / Pyrus amygdaliformis    (Wild Pear)
Salix alba    (White Willow)
Silene fruticosa    (Shrubby Campion)
Helichrysum melitense    (Maltese Everlasting)
Tulipa australis    (Southern Wild Tulip)
Scrophularia auriculata    (Water Figwort)
Verbascum creticum    (Cretan Mullein)


Very rare species that can become listed as endangered

Below there are a few links regarding the situation of endangered or threatened flora in the Maltese islands:

  1. The Red Data Book of the Maltese islands (E. Lanfranco, P.J.Schembti and J. Sultana)
  2. Protection Regulations, L.N.311 - 2006 (Government of Malta)
  3. Plant Conservation in Malta (European Plant Data sheets)
  4. The Islands Directory (UN System-Wide EarthWatch Web Site)

Main website credits
Brief information about the plant families (shown on Main Index) Dr. Gerald (Gerry) Carr, Professor of Botany, (University of Hawaii/Manoa)
Detailed information about the plant families (linked from Main Index) L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz (1992 onwards). Delta Project: The Families of Flowering Plants
Illustrations of typical species for plant families (linked from Main Index) L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz (1992 onwards). Delta Project: The Families of Flowering Plants
John Curtis - "British Entomology", (1824 - 1835)
Maltese Names (Main sources) S. M. Haslam et al. - 'A Flora of the Maltese islands' E. Lanfranco and G. Lanfranco - 'Il-Flora Maltija' - Kullana kulturali Book 47, ISBN 99932-41-38-5
Web Design, Coding, Digital images, Botanical research and Website managment Stephen Mifsud
Field work and botanical research and identifications Stephen Mifsud
Additional data entry, photos and fieldwork Owen Mifsud
Photography, Microscopical images and video footage Stephen Mifsud
Software: Corel PaintShop, Dreamweaver, HotDog, UltraEdit and Xnview are the most important programs used to create this website
Web Hosting: www.midphase.com
Main Sponsors: 2007: Middlesea Insurance plc, Strickland Foundation
2008: HSBC Cares for the Environment Fund, Middlesea Insurance plc.
2009: Malta Council for Science and Technology
2010: Malta Nature Tours
2013: Malta Tourism Authority
Past botanical mentors, supporters and other help
  • Edwin Lanfranco
  • Prof. Chris Hans Weber
  • Sdravko Lalov Vesselinov
  • Michael Briffa
  • Steven Bonello
  • Stefan Mifsud
  • Dr. Sandro Lanfranco
  • Darrin Stevens
  • Timothy Tabone
  • Leslie Lewis
  • Brian Farrugia
  • Analise Falzon
  • Others that I have forgot ! (drop me an email !)
Faunistic mentors and additional help with the Funghi and fauna page
  • Dr. David Mifsud
  • Prof. Patrick J. Schembri
  • Albert Gatt Florida
  • Aldo Catania
  • Aldo Catania
  • Carmel Sammut
  • Michael Briffa
  • Edwin Lanfranco
  • Others that I have forgot !