Flora and vegetation. – The great variety of climatic conditions observed in Spain has a clear influence on the vegetation and flora of the various regions that make it up. From the arid inland plateaus to the humid Atlantic coast, from the harsh winters of Madrid to the African heat of the Andalusian depression.
In the vast region of the inland plateaus which occupies most of the Spanish territory and which is divided by the mountain ranges that cross it into several sections, a wet spring that stimulates the vegetation and the flowering of the phanerogams is followed by a hot and dry summer. and a harsh winter follows which considerably reduces the vegetative period: here, as a consequence of the peculiar climatic and environmental conditions, the endemic species characteristic of the Spanish flora abound.
In the eastern part where the climate is very dry, the pastures turn into steppes; not only climatic factors participate in this transformation, but also the constitution of the chalky and saline soil. The Willkomm limits the steppe vegetation to the plants that cover this land in tufts, forming bushes or pulvinuli, in the middle of which the soil shines and whitens: here there are about 180 halophytes (of which at least a third consists of endemic species and among these some Artemisia): Lygeum spartum covering vast surfaces, Helianthemum squamatum, Ononis crassifolia, Gypsophila, Zollikoferia, Sideritis, Salsola, etc. In the marshy and brackish bottoms of the valleys, the social halophytes are found: Chenopodiacee, Statice, Herniaria fruticosa, etc., and are greyish in color due to the different epidermal coatings of wax, hairs, scales, etc., which constitute a defense against the ‘evaporation. This halophytic vegetation covers both the plateaus and the steppe lowlands and is rather uniform, being mainly linked to the physical-chemical constitution of the soil.
In the Spanish flora the following regions can be distinguished: a) Cantabrian, with Middle European species and forests of northern plants; b) central, or Iberian, where evergreen shrubs and aromatic species dominate, such as thyme and rosemary which occupy vast expanses; c) southern, consisting of the Guadalquivir valley and the Betic system, which has African characteristics; d) south-east, formed by the steppe region with very marked North African characters; e) eastern, represented by the true Mediterranean region.
According to Lazaro and Ibiza. altimetrically, the following areas can be distinguished: 1. shoreline from or to 100 msm; 2. less than 100 to 600 meters; 3. submontana or average from 600 to 800 m.; 4. montana from 800 to 1600 m.; 5. subpyrenaic from 1000 to 2000 m; 6. Pyrenean above 2000 meters above sea level
According to Watchtutorials, Willkomm distinguishes the following formations in the Spanish vegetation:
A) Open formations: 1. halophilous, psammophilous, etc coastal formations:; 2. steppe formations with Graminaceae (Sparteti) and salt steppes; 3. internal psammophilous formations: beaches and sands; 4. formations of rocks and cliffs of the plateaus and mountains; 5. ruderal formations.
B) Closed formations: 1. pastures with transitional forms on one side to the steppes and on the other to meadows; 2. meadows and peat bogs; 3. herbage; 4. suffrutic formations, such as the associations of thymes (tomillares) and other analogous xerophilic ones; 5. low wooded formations; perennitoglie (cisteti, rosmarineti, sabineti and others), planiestivifoglie (genisteti); 6. tall formations: planiperennifoglie forests (holm oaks, cork trees), coniferous forests (pine forests), planiestivifoglie forests (beech, oak, chestnut groves); 7. cultural formations, in which evil herbs are included; 8. hydrophytic formations of rivers, canals and bodies of water; 9. epiphytes, parasitic saprophytes and insectivores.
If we examine the Pyrenees and the Sierra Nevada, we see that the vegetation is so distributed in these mountain groups. In the Pyrenees there are Atlantic plant formations up to 400 meters above sea level; then followed by deciduous forests up to 1600-1700 m. and among these the chestnut goes up to 500-800 m., Quercus robur up to 1600 m., the beech goes from 650 to 1600 m. and in some areas it reaches up to 1850 m., the Abies pectinata goes up to 1950 m.; coniferous forests dominate between 1600 and 2200-2400 m. and among these the Picea excelsa goes from 1500 to 2400 m. Between 2200 and 2400 m. there are shrubs and fruit trees and among these Vaccinium myrtillus, Rhododendron ferrugineum, Empetrum; the alpine formations are found between 2400-2700 m., where they reach the limits of perpetual snow.
In the Sierra Nevada, starting from 1400 m. around, there is a forest region with species of temperate climates such as: Pinus silvestris, Taxus baccata, Sorbus aria, Acer opulifolium, Fraxinus excelsior ; Alpine fruit trees begin at 2000 meters above sea level, lively alpine herbs and grasses formations at 2450 meters above sea level. In the lower floors there are plants from central Europe, but there is no lack of a characteristic Mediterranean imprint due to the presence of Quercus squat and Papilionacee-Genistee bushes (Erinacea hispanica, Genista horrida and ramosissima, Astragalus creticus). ThereGenista aspalathoides covers vast expanses and mixes here and there with Juniperus nana and sabina. Alpine weeds consist of Agrostis nevadensis, Nardus stricta, Festuca. Among the lively herbs we note: species of Arenaria, Porentilla nevadensis, Artemisia granatensis, Plantago nivalis, etc.
The richest genera of endemics in the Spanish flora are: Centaurea with 50% of the endemic species, Linaria, Chaenorrhinum, Hieracium, Saxifraga, Genista, Thymus, Armeria, Teucrium, Cistus, Halimium. Of the more interesting and more characteristic plants we can mention: Davallia canariensis from Gibraltar to Galicia; Asplenium palmatum SW coasts, Woodwardia radicans and Hymenophyllum palmatum western and NW coasts; Corema albumin Galicia, Huelva and Cadiz; Ilex perado in Tarifa and Algeciras; Ramondia pyrenaica in the Pyrenees, Monserrato and Sant Llorenç de Munt; Valeriana longiflora in northern Aragon; Daboecia polifolia and Lithospermum prostratum in the Cantabrian hills; Jasonia glutinosa is located in Huarte Araquil; Retama sphaerocarpa in the new Castile, Andalusia; Microcnemon fastigiatum, Ruppia aragonensis, Ferula Loscosii in the salt steppe of Aragon; Ononis aragonensis from the central Pyrenees to the Sierra Nevada; Extremely tenacious Forskoleavar. Cossoniana, Lafuentea rotundifolia, Kalidium foliatum in the Murcian and Almeriense steppe; Plantago nivalis in the borreguiles of the Sierra Nevada; Erodium cheirantifolium and E. supracanum to the Sierra Nevada and Monserrato; Artemisia granatensis and Ranunculus acetosellaefolius in the Sierra Nevada; Umblicus Winkleri in Algeciras; Limoniastrum monopetalum in southern maritime and marshy soils; Elizaldia nonneoidesin Cadiz. The Spanish flora has relations with the flora of France, the Balearics, North Africa, the Atlantic islands (Azores, Canaries, Madeira), Mediterranean Italy (especially Sicily) and other regions of this basin.
Of 5660 species of vascular plants: 1465 are endemic; 1633 municipalities with central Europe or with all of Europe or with Europe plus the Mediterranean countries; 1132 are Mediterranean and among these 16 are typical of the Balearics, 282 municipalities with the flora of North Africa; 236 are Alpine or from other high mountains of Europe; 215 are common with France, 188 exclusive to the Pyrenees; 185 are Atlantic; 40 oriental; 16 of the Atlantic suns; 8 from the interior of Asia and 260 cultivated or adventitious.
In summary, the Spanish plants are located ⅓ of Central European and alpine species, endemic forms of ¼, 1 / 5 of Mediterranean plants and ½ African hardwood and Atlantic.
For other details, see Iberian, P eine: Flora. and vegetation.
Fauna. – The fauna of Spain is part of the fauna complex of the western Mediterranean region. The presence of the Bertuccia, the only European monkey, on the cliffs of Gibraltar is remarkable. Moreover, there are many similarities of the Spanish fauna with that of North Africa, especially Algeria and Morocco. Whole groups of invertebrates, especially insects, are common to the two regions. Equally interesting is the presence of African forms, often desert, and of alpine-like forms that populate the mountainous regions, especially the high peaks of the Pyrenees. See also Iberian, Peninsula: Fauna.