National Park Arcipelago Toscano
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The Flora and the Vegetation
The principal factors which influence the vegetation and the flora of the Tuscan Archipelago are the Mediterranean type of climate (characterized by high levels of summer dryness, accompanied by continual sun exposure and frequent marine winds), the isolation, and the connection with the Italian peninsula and with the Sardinian-Corsican system, let alone the added factor of the ancient presence of man. Evergreen plants dominate, such as those with coriaceous leaves protected by a robust and hardly impermeable epidermis, or alternatively, plants with extremely reduced leaves like thorns, or those without leaves, like brooms.
Only a few of the great holm-oak forests, which once covered the Islands of the Archipelago, survive today on Elba, Giglio and Gorgona, while single specimens can be found on Giannutri, Capraia and Montecristo. The orographic complexity and the altitude of the Island of Elba has favoured the conservation of chestnut woods "Castanea sativa". In the cooler valleys, the rare fern "Osmunda regalis" grows on the hills, and particularly on Mt. Capanne you can see the yew tree "Taxus baccata" and the hophornbeam "Ostrya carpinifolia". On Capraia and Elba the cork-oak "Quercus suber" and the durmast "Q. pubescens" grows, whereas on Gorgona and Elba there are different types of pine woods - the aleppo-pine "Pinus halepensis", and the stone pine "Pinus pinea", and the cluster-pine
"P. pinaster". Today the most wide spread vegetation formation in the Park is the fragrant Mediterranean macchia, a shrub-like vegetation around 2-5 metres in height, the dominant species include the arbutus "Arbutus unedo", the evergreen "Rhamnus alaternus", the mastic tree "Pistacia lentiscus", the juniper "Juniperus phoenicea", the myrtle "Myrtus communis", the heathers "Erica arborea" and "E. scoparia", the rosemary "Rosmarinus officinalis", the phyllireas "Phyllirea angustifolia" and "P. latifolia", in the glades and clearings the lavander "Lavandula stoechas", the strawflower "Helichrysum
italicum" and the colourful cistus "Cistus incanus", "C. salvifolius" and "C. monspeliensis" grow, while the splendid brooms "Calycotome spinosa" and "Spartium junceum" predominate in the sunnier slopes.
The geographical isolation has favoured the presence of many endemic species.
On Elba there is the Mt. Capanne cornflower "Centaurea ilvensis", the "Centaurea aetaliae", the violet "Viola corsica ilvensis" and the lemonscented evergreen "Limonium ilvae". On Capraia the "Centaurea gymnocarpa" cornflower and the yellow orchid "Orchis provincialis capraria" are endemic, while the toadflax "Linaria Capraria" is exclusive to the Archipelago. Micro-environments, rare on the other Islands of the Archipelago, still exist on Elba. We are able to
find species typical to mountain areas, like the lily "Lilium bulbiferum croceum", or sub-Mediterranean species like the brooms "Genista desoleana Valsecchi". The spectacular blossoming aquatic buttercup "Ranunculus aquatilis", the canes "Juncus articulatus" and the penny-royal "Mentha pulegium" grow on the shores of the Stagnone of Capraia, the only natural lake in the entire Park.
The whole Archipelago is cloaked with a variety of wild orchids which cover fields and woods with flowers of delicate beauty.
At Elba Island, there is tourist accommodation available in hotels, farm holiday, farmhouse, residence self-catering accommodation, b&b, rooms for rent, holiday homes, camp sites and tourist villages.