The flora of North Cyprus is various enough to please everyone, from the visitor who just wants to see valleys full of anemones to the serious botanist who would like to identify 400 plus specimens during their couple of weeks stay.
Undoubtedly spring is the time for everyone who wants to see the most prolific colour and greatest variety. Late February through to the end of April are the best months and even then flower availability will be subject to the rainfall (or lack of it) and temperature. Excessive heat in April can bring about an early end to the flowering period of several species particularly the anemones.
North Cyprus has more to offer than its sun and sea, natural beauties and historic sites. One surprising attraction is the North Cyprus herbarium, which charms lovers of our wild flowers as well as providing a research center for botanists.
Most people can confidently name the more showy blooms in the countryside; shepherds and foresters know dozens more. But how many of those seventeen North Cyprus "endemics", found nowhere else in the world, would you recognize?
It was to fill this need that the collection of pressed and labelled plants originally made by the resident English botanist Deryck Viney in the course of writing his illustrated Flora of the country was adopted by The Forestry Department and formally opened to the public, on 9.11.1989. Since then it has expanded to include examples of nearly all the 1250 native plants species. And for the guidance of visitors it has special displays of flower photographs, specimens of all those seventeen "endemics" photographs of the oldest and biggest trees, and a seperate collections of bulky fruit.
The herbarium is housed in the ALEVKAYA Forest Station on the mountain ridge between Esentepe and Degirmenlik. It can be approached either by mountain road or by a lower tarmac road or by coastal road through Karaagaç or Esentepe.
Via the mountain road coming from Girne, drive past the Besparmak mountain and on top of the hill make a left turn to ALEVKAYA past the quarry. This is a roughly 9 km. drive along a narrow road but the views make this route worthwhile.
The other route takes the road, further down the hill, signposted to ALEVKAYA. You can also reach the Herbarium via the northern coastal road by turning south either at Karaagaç or Esentepe.
There are wildflowers that continue flowering well into May and
June. Among these are the monk's cowl or friar's cowl (arisarum
vulgare) the endlessly abundant yellow oxalis (oxalis pescaprae)
which is an agricultural nuisance growing in the orchards and arable
fields. The verges and hillsides are awash with colour from the
wild cistus (rock rose) that flowers from January to June.
The sage leafed rock rose (cistus salviifolius) is white with a yellow centre, the flower somewhat resembling a lightly poached egg, and when not in bloom the bushes look like wild sage, hence its Latin name. The taurus rock rose (cistus creticus tauricus) is a deap purple/pink, papery thin petaled flower with a much darker leaf and the pink rock rose (cistus creticus tauricus) has a quite dark pink flower and greyish green leaf. Like the cistus salviifolius, these latter two types also have bright yellow stamens at their centre.
Due to the geographic position, and the natural factors such as climate, soil conditions as well as topography and human factor, the island features a large number of different vegetation species.
The diversity of species is also determined by the history of the island. As a former British colony, Cyprus was given a rich variety of the seeds and samplings that imperial officers crossing between Australia, New Zealand, India and South Africa brought with them.
Rainfall, humidity and temperature factors are the most significant ones as for the subtropical (East Mediterranean) climate, in which Cyprus falls in. The fact that the Kyrenia range is running along the north coast causes a contrast in heat and humidity between the coast and the interior and thus due to the landscape that is varied in its altitude, we distinguish the three different vegetation zones in Cyprus. However, dealing with North Cyprus there are two of them.