The island of Ikaria is one of Greece’s most impressive and important ecosystems, featuring a rich variety of both flora and fauna, as well as various landscapes made up of lakes, rivers, springs and caves. Additionally, there are several wetland areas throughout the island which are worth visiting. Many of Ikaria’s prized natural sites are officially protected and belong to the Natura 2000 initiative within the categories of Areas of Exceptional Natural Beauty, Important Bird Areas, and CORINE Habitats.
Photo: Rosa-Maria Rinkl
With 92 families, 401 genuses and 829 species of plants, Ikaria’s flora is one of the most diverse throughout Greece. In the southern part of the island, there are several endemic species and sub-species, such as: Ikarian Peony (Paeonia muscula cariensis), and the unique species Iberis runemarkii, which can be found in the area of Plagia. Several of these endemic species are protected under Greek law, as they are considered endangered, such as: Linum gyaricum, Verbascum ikaricum, Nigella icarica, Polygonum icaricum, Symphytum icarium, and Rorippa icarica. Other varieties found on the island include: Campanula hagielia, Pteris dentata, Corydalis integra, Muscari macrocarpum, galanthus ikariea, digitalis cariensis (found only in Ikaria), Dianthus elegans, and Symphytum anatolicum. Pristine forests thrive on the island, due to minimal human interference in those areas of the island. Additionally, the Hawthorn plant (Crataegus monogyna), known on the island as “Perikathe”, grows in the highlands of the island and produces fruit which is considered beneficial to the human body.
Photo(cover): C messier