Morrocan Plants & Flowers

Written by daniel zimmermann
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Morrocan Plants & Flowers
Part of Morocco is in the Sahara Desert. (Sahara image by Catabu from Fotolia.com)

The country of Morocco provides a variety of habitats for plant life, from the Alpine region of the lofty Atlas Mountains to the arid Sahara Desert. Its flora ranges from common weeds to endangered endemics. Some plant species bear beautiful flowers. Others, like the egusi melon, bear edible fruits.

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Important Trees

The flora of Morocco includes trees that tolerate the relatively light rainfall that characterises Mediterranean climate. In northern Morocco a tree called Berber thuya flourishes in coastal areas and low hilly regions. A small cork oak forest thrives in northwestern Morocco. Other Moroccan trees are the cypress, juniper and the holm oak. Even the cedar of Lebanon rears its noble head in Morocco.

Morrocan Plants & Flowers
Leaves of holm oak (encina in Spanish) (encina image by elcarli from Fotolia.com)

Maquis

A maquis is a dense bushy area. In Morocco a maquis contains small trees like the wild olives, acacia, and carob. Many are evergreens, like the mastic bush or the sarsaparilla vine. A fan palm called Chamaerops humilis also occurs, but as its name implies, it does not grow very tall.

Morrocan Plants & Flowers
Wild olive (wild olives image by WojtekZ from Fotolia.com)

Garrigue

Northern Morocco also contains another type of region called a garrigue. A garrigue plays host to scrubby plants like sage and French lavender, as well as species with beautiful flowers, such as, the rockrose. Here and elsewhere in Morocco you will also find a native grass called "esparto grass."

Morrocan Plants & Flowers
Rockroses of the genera Cistus and Tuberaria occur in Morocco. (Spotted rockrose (Tuberaria guttata) image by Lars Lachmann from Fotolia.com)

Atlas Flora

Onobrychis cornuta, an attractive plant with violet flowers, occurs in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. This plant is a member of the pea family, as is the medicinal Astralagus, which dwells in the same general area. Higher up the slope another member of the pea family called Vicia canescens finds its ecological niche. The Atlas Mountains also plays host to Chenopodium album, which American farmers know by the name "lamb's quarters."

Morrocan Plants & Flowers
Atlas Mountains (atlas mountains image by Paul Moore from Fotolia.com)

Desert Flora

As you travel southward in Morocco, the climate becomes increasingly more arid until you reach the Sahara Desert in the southwest. The cactus is not native to the Sahara, but Moroccans cultivate it commercially. Instead of cacti Morocco has succulent euphorbias that grow as big as trees. Cistanche violacea, a parasitic desert plant, has very beautiful flowers. The saltbush and sagebrush are two plants that occur both in Morocco and in arid regions of the United States.

Morrocan Plants & Flowers
sagebrush (winter frost in sagebrush image by monamakela.com from Fotolia.com)

Attractive Flowers

Moroccan flora includes colourful orchids of the genera Ophrys and Dactylorhiza. Silene vespertina, an attractive member of the pink family, is the Moroccan catchfly. Other colourful flowers are irises, alyssums, and Isatis tinctoria, commonly called the woad.

Endemic Plants

Many endemic plants reside in Morocco. A plant is endemic if its range is restricted to a single circumscribed area. The argan is a thorny endemic tree that lives in the arid south while Ptilostemon leptophyllus is a composite that resides in the north. The Atlas Mountains are especially rich in endemics.

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