Lesvos owes its beauty and the variety of flora to the unusually large variety of habitats on the island. It has been known for its beauty throughout history and the philosopher Theophrastus, born in ancient Eressos and Aristotles successor at the Lyceum in Athens, was the first to make a record of plant species and classify them.
The works of Theophrastus were antiquity's most important contribution to botanical science, relied on for centuries after and he is considered by many as the father of botany and of taxonomy. The rich soil and climate of the island make it a botanical paradise and it is home to over 1400 species and sub species of flora, including aromatic, ornamental and pharmaceutical.
You will be hard pressed to find a more diverse collection of flora anywhere else in Europe. Amongst them are many rare and protected plants including
Lesvos Alyssos, Bucephalus eyebrow, Comberia, Elves’ Snowdrop, Olympus Green Tea, rare species of orchids and Male Peony.
Rhododendron luteum and Haplophyllum megalanthum are found only on Lesvos.
Over 70 types of orchids have been recorded on the island, including the very rare Comparia Compariana (Komper's Orchid).
New hybrids are still being discovered, and as recently as 2004 an extremely rare hybrid of the Himantoglossum Comperianoum and Himantoglossum Montis Tauri orchid was found in the Agiasos area.
As a result, Lesvos is a popular destination for orchid hunters from late March until mid June.
With such rich and varied natural habitats, Lesvos is home for many small creatures amongst which are foxes, squirrels, birds, reptiles, bats and insects. Some of them are found nowhere else and a few are listed as endangered by the European Union.
Several species of bat are included in the list of protected fauna along with turtles, reptiles and birds. Local authorities are working under the European Union's directives on conservation of natural habitats to ensure that rare flora and fauna are protected. Working under the Natura 2000 project, areas of particular interest have been protected and efforts are being made to protect habitat types as well rare species.
You can find colourful butterflies such at the Swallowtail and Cleopatra, the amazingly beautiful Thread Lacewing insect.
Persian Squirells scurry around and can often be seen running up the walls of monasteries, while at a more leisurely pace you may spot a Spur Thighed Tortoise. In the many lakes or ponds around the island there are Stripe-necked Terrapins and sometimes European Pond Terrapins. Marsh frogs can also be found as well as several different bats including Blacius’ Rhynolofos, Micromyotis, Largemyotis
We will be expanding the section on fauna soon so do check back for more information. We are in the process of creating a section of our site dedicated to the flora of Lesvos and will keep it updated with information on the best places to find various species.