Where is the evergreen forest

Evergreen deciduous forests

The largest proportion of the Andalusian forests are naturally the evergreen deciduous forests. This type of forest mostly consists of Holm oak forests, only in humid and sub-humid climates in the Atlantic West come on silicate soils Cork oak forests in front.

There are still large cork and holm oak forests in the Sierra de Aracena. Photo: Jürgen Paeger

In their original state, both form dense, dark forests with a shadow-bearing undergrowth of hard-leaved shrubs, complemented by lianas and herbs. The tree layer usually only consists of stone or cork oaks. The undergrowth is much more variable, it differs depending on the substrate and climate and characterizes the site conditions very well. In the holm oak forests, for example, mastic bushes, white asparagus, olive trees and carob trees are characteristic of a warmth-loving expression, while the strawberry tree, evergreen viburnum and turpentine-pistachio indicate more humid site conditions.

As already shown in the introduction (>> vegetation), most of the still existing stone and cork oak forests are pasture forests thinned by grazing, which "dehesa", which, for example, occupies large areas in the Sierra de Aracena and the Sierra Norte.

Especially on good soils, the forests have mostly been completely replaced by agricultural crops, which today characterize the landscape in many parts of Andalusia. On less good soils, some of the natural forests have been replaced by afforestation with other species. Where this did not happen, we usually only find one of their degradation stages instead of the original formations. This is what is called what is left of the forests after deforestation, excessive grazing or burning. The stages of degradation now take up such a large proportion of the area of ​​Andalusia that they often determine the landscape.

Depending on how strong the change is, one can differentiate between whole series of stages of degradation. In the best case, the vegetation differs only slightly from the undergrowth of the forest, the bushes are the shade-bearing species of the forest. In this Bush forest stage (matorral noble) only a pronounced tree layer is missing. The next stage, one, is very common light-loving bushes (matorral heliófilo). This term covers the vegetation known elsewhere in the Mediterranean as scrub with larger shrubs and the garrigue, which is characterized by low shrubs.

The plants that make up this light-loving bush, like those of the forest undergrowth, differed depending on the location conditions. A rockrose bush is very common on silicate, the most common of which is the lacquer rockrose. If the conditions deteriorate further, the crested lavender is a characteristic plant of lime-free soils. The vegetation on limestone soils is much richer than that on silicate. Of the rock roses, only Clusius rock rose and white rock rose grow on lime, a large number of mint flowers are typical: rosemary, broad-leaved lavender and various types of thyme. Pine trees often grow in these light-loving bushes. Continued degradation eventually leads to one Pseudo-steppein which the bushes are completely absent and which consists of perennial grasses and herbs.

This somewhat schematic representation helps to understand the degradation series, in nature you can of course often also find transitional forms between the individual stages or even completely different forms. It is quite often the case, for example, that a thinned layer of trees in the forest is interspersed with species of light-loving bushes.

Holm oak forests

The Holm oak is characterized by the ability to cope with very different environmental conditions. It is very resistant to both heat and cold, gets by with rainfall of 350 mm per year and grows on almost any soil, as long as it is not waterlogged or salty. It is thus well adapted to both the dry south and the more continental inland.

The fact that the holm oak grows in different climates and in very different locations is reflected above all in the undergrowth of the forests. Many different forest types can be distinguished based on the species that occur there.

The locations of the Andalusian holm oak forests and some typical species

Altitude level
Limestone soils
Silicate floors
supramed.Barberry holm oak forest
Spanish barberry
Portuguese oak
Gorse-holm oak forest
Betic gorse (Genista baetica)
mesomed.Peony holm oak forest
Autumn daphne
Butcher's broom
Peonies (Paeonia broteroi, P. coriacea)
Spanish wild hyacinth

Hare's ear holm oak forest
(only in the east of Andalusia)
Kermes oak
Devil thread
Common asparagus
Gorse-holm oak forest
Retama gorse (Retama sphaerocarpa)
thermomed.Olive holm oak forest
Wild olive tree
Mastic bush
Olive buckthorn
White asparagus
Myrtle holm oak forest
Mastic bush
Strawberry tree
Narrow-leaved stone linden

(For the altitude levels see “bioclimatic classification” on the page >> Climate)

Large parts of Andalusia, from sea level to around 800 m altitude, but only up to 350 m altitude in the more continental east of the Guadalquivir basin, belong to the thermo-Mediterranean area. Here grows on basic soils Olive and holm oak forest, In addition to the wild olive tree, the typical undergrowth includes mastic, olive buckthorn and white asparagus. On silicate floors this level is from Myrtle and holm oak forests colonized, for which the myrtle, strawberry and narrow-leaved stone linden are characteristic in addition to the mastic bush that grows on every soil. Only remnants of both types of forest still exist, mainly because of the suitability of their soils for agriculture. Where this was not possible because of the slope, in both cases there is often a high and dense, often impenetrable Kermes oak bush forest with mastic and Kermes oak as the first and widespread degradation stage, which on limestone soils often has a light-loving dwarf shrub with beeches and Heady thyme follows. On the other hand, a rockrose bush is formed on silicate, for which sage-leaved rockrose, French rockrose, lacquer rockrose and crested lavender are typical.

The Meso-Mediterranean altitude level occupies heights of 800 (in the Guadalquivir basin from 350 m) - 1,400 m; is characteristic of basic soils Peony and holm oak forest. Its shrub layer is, inter alia. Juniper, autumn daphne and butcher's broom as well as climbing plants, e.g. B. formed the Velcro and the curling honeysuckle. In the herb layer are the peonies Paeonia coriacea and Paeonia broteroi as well as featuring Spanish wild hyacinth. Today, this forest is mostly replaced by grain fields or olive groves, or we encounter one of its stages of degradation such as the hawthorn-kermes oak bush forest with kermes oak, single-sided hawthorn and olive buckthorn. If the damage continues, a dwarf shrub with rosemary, small-flowered gorse and Clusius rock rose follows on these sites.

To the more continental east the biodiversity of these forests decreases, in the far east of Andalusia, z. B. in the Sierra de María, one can already find the ones that are otherwise widespread in Castile-La Mancha Hare's ear holm oak forests encounter. Their undergrowth, which is very poor in species, consists of robust species such as Kermes oak, devil's twine buckthorn, wild juniper and common asparagus. Where these forests have not completely fallen victim to the cultivation of grain, they are mostly replaced by a bush forest made of Kermes oak, devil's twine buckthorn, evergreen buckthorn and Nebroden seaweed.

On acidic soils in the Meso-Mediterranean area, holm oak forests can only be found in the northwest, where the ones that are actually typical for Portugal and Extremadura can be found Pear and holm oak forests which are characterized by the presence of Bourgeau's pear. Apart from that, no holm oak forests have survived in this or the following, supramediterranean elevations. The place of the theoretically occurring here Gorse-holm oak forests is occupied by bushes of gorse and Betic gorse.

On basic soils of the supramediterranean level (1,400 - 2,000 m), holm oak forests only occur in dry locations, otherwise deciduous trees are already predominant at this altitude. In the Barberry and holm oak forests In addition to the holm oaks, there are already deciduous trees such as Portuguese oak and French maple. The shrub layer is dominated by the same species (Spanish barberry, hawthorn, stinking hellebore, laurel daphne and various roses) that also form the bush forest when it is degraded.

Cork oak forests

Cork oaks are significantly more demanding than stone oaks in terms of their environmental requirements: They are much more sensitive to cold and require annual rainfall of at least 600 mm. They are also calciferous. These claims limit their distribution upwards and into the continental interior, so that they are mainly to be found in the thermo- and meso-Mediterranean area of ​​the Atlantic-dominated west.

In the thermo-Mediterranean zone, it forms together with the olive tree in sub-humid to humid precipitation conditions Olive and cork oak forestswhose undergrowth of evergreen viburnum, stinging bindweed, narrow-leaved and broad-leaved stone linden, tree heather, butcher's broom and bracken reflect the more humid locations compared to the holm oak forests. In humid and hyperhumid conditions one finds in the Gaditanian flora province Germander cork oak forests with betic germander.

In their natural locations, these cork oak forests are often replaced by agricultural crops or by bushes with dwarf palm and mastic, in more humid locations also by strawberry bushes with strawberry trees, narrow-leaved stone linden and tree heather. In the mountainous areas of the province of Cadiz, however, large cork oak forests have also survived, for example in the Los Alcornocales nature park (German: “The cork oak forests”). The forests are usually used intensively: the cork is peeled from the trees about every 9 years, and the acorns are very popular as fodder.

The Meso-Mediterranean ones are also worth mentioning Gorse and cork oak foreststhat can be found on silicate soils in the Betic Flora Province (Sierra de la Contraviesa) and are characterized primarily by gorse, but also by broom, large-flowered goat clover and bracken.

Olive groves

There is only one exception to the predominance of stone and cork oaks in the evergreen hardwood family: The Sorrel olive groves especially in the valley of the Guadalquivir. The Andalusian black earth with a high clay content that occurs here is very poorly water-permeable and therefore often waterlogged during the rainy season, which the oaks do not get, so that the wild olive tree can form forests here. Other typical species in these forests are the dwarf palm, the Italian arum and the evergreen rose. However, these very fertile soils are now mostly used for growing grain, so that these forests have largely disappeared. At most a bush with white asparagus and olive buckthorn can still be found in their place.

Further to:
>> Deciduous deciduous forests
>> Coniferous forests
>> Forest-free vegetation

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© Jürgen Paeger 2004 - 2006