Cyprus September 2005


I visited Cyprus in September on a walking tour which started in the centre of the island in the pine-clad Troodos mountains, taking in the Caledonian Waterfall trail near Platres and then a long day’s route from the Trooditissa monastery to Foini, Omodos, Ayia Mauri and Lofou, crossing several sub-parallel ridges on the way. Then we transferred to the Akamas, the claw-shaped peninsula at the north-west tip of the island for more walking, from Drouseia to Neo Chorio and thence down to the coast near the “Baths of Aphrodite”.

Much of the walking, especially in the Troodos mountains and Akamas, was on well-maintained nature trails set up by the Cyprus Forestry Department, who keep them clear and provide signposts, information boards and small wooden posts with the names of plants (and rather tmore surprisingly, rock types) in Greek and English, with the international “Latin” binomial for the plants as well. The island has many interesting plants and animals – my lists are below.

I flew into Pafos (or Paphos depending on the transcription of the Greek phi!), and had a couple of days unwinding in a beach-side hotel, with the chance to swim in the remarkably warm sea.

Around Agros and the Madari trail

[Click on the thumbnails for a bigger picture.]

Rodon – view from hotel. This is the view from my room at the Rodon Mount Hotel above Agros, looking to the high Troodos, which is the central core of the island reaching almost 2000m. Rodon - view from hotel
Agros loop. These two photos are around the village of Agros, which among other attractions has a rosewater “factory”; some of the surrounding slopes are covered with damask roses to provide the petals for this and must be a wonderful sight in spring and summer. Agros loop view1
Agros loop. Agros loop2
Grapes. There are numerous orchards and vineyards around the village. Grapes
Madari view. The Madari trails climb to c.1600m, and skirt around Mt. Adelfoi, the second highest point on the island. The slopes are mostly forested, with Pinus brutia up to about 1400m, and Pinus nigra above, though there is exposed rock too. Madari view01
Madari view. Madari view02
Madari view. Madari view03
Madari view. Madari view06
Madari lunch. In the shelter of the valleys broadleaf trees such as this plane Platanus orientalis thrive. Madari lunch
Madari view. The view from the top is spectacular – this is looking right across to the north coast, with the Turkish mainland just visible in the far distance to the right. Madari view11
Madari view. Madari view14
Autumn colchicum Colchicum troodi. These delicate little crocus-like flowers grew in a relatively narrow altitude range in the mountains. The leaves appear in spring. Beautiful but poisonous. Colchicum troodi
Madari view. One of the many (natural) vertical walls made of volcanic rock in the Troodos massif. Madari view15

Pouziari and Caledonia Trails

Pouziari map. One of the information boards provided by the Forestry service: sadly these maps were rather hard to follow! Pouziari map
Pouziari view. Two views taken on the Pouziari trail as it climbs up into the pine forest. Pouziari view01
Pouziari view. Pouziari view02
Mountain campion. Near the top (probably at c.1500m) I spotted this delightful mountain campion (probably a Silene sp.) growing in the rocks. Mountain campion
Mountain campion close-up. Mountain campion close-up
Pouziari – black pine. This is a fine specimen of the mountain or black pine Pinus nigra. Sometimes they develop flat tops when the growing point is broken by the weight of winter snow – rather surprisingly up to 3m (10ft) of snow can fall up here! Pouziari - black pine Pinus nigra
Arbutus andrachne. The Cyprus strawberry-tree, with peeling bark to reveal the characteristic red trunks. Arbutus andrachne
Caledonia Trail. Coming down we joined the Caledonia trail, following the Kryos Potamos (Cold River) down its gorge; this stream is unusual in that it runs all year round, so its valley is very lush and green. There are little trout in the pools. Caledonia Trail
Caledonia Waterfall. The waterfall is very attractive. Apparently it was named after “Caledonia” by an early British ex-pat as it reminded him of Scotland! Caledonia Waterfall
Wehrlite sign. Not only the plants have information signs, so do the rocks... Wehrlite sign
Cardinal butterfly on leaf. This was the best photo I could manage of a butterfly that had the most glorious orange-red upper side. The id is by Guy Padfield – thanks Guy. Cardinal butterfly on leaf
Argynnis Pandora Cardinal butterfly. This is a much better picture of the Cardinal, taken by Guy, which shows the orange on the upper wing, though not the even brighter colours on the upperside.
[photo © Guy Padfield, used with permission.]
Argynnis Pandora Cardnal butterfly

Trooditissa – Foini – Omodos – Ayia Mauri – Lofou

View. View - longday01
View. Note the young Pinus brutia to the left. View - longday02
Village View. Shows one of the typical mountain villages. Note the shiny leaves of a golden oak (Quercus alnifolius) to the right. View - longday04
Handari Waterfall. Just before Foini you pass this waterfall, on one of the few rivers in Cyprus to flow in summer. Handari Waterfall
View of pine forest. Typical view of the mid-altitude pine forest (Pinus brutia). The tree to the right is probably a fig. View - longday05
Pepper tree flowers. This ornamental pepper tree was growing in a hedge outside the local school in Foini. These are the flowers... Pepper tree flowers
Pepper tree berries... and here are the red berries or peppercorns. Pepper tree berries
View. The Pinus brutia to the left is a very typical shape – and affords a welcome patch of shade. View - longday06
View of hilltop chapel. A small chapel set high up above Omodos. View - longday07
View. View - longday08
Omodos square. The main square (actually a rectangle) in Omodos is very attractive: lined by mulberry trees, with stalls, cafés and shops on both sides and the church at the bottom. Omodos square01
Omodos square. Omodos square02
Omodos square. Omodos square03
Omodos. The wall of the church at the bottom of Omodos square. Omodos square04
Ayia Mauri church. This small Byzantine church is built into the rock at the back. Inside the walls are covered in 500-year old frescoes of saints and other religious themes. The trough in the foreground is a drinking water supply – you can see the stone pipe emerging through the wall. Ayia Mauri church
Plane Platanus orientalis. This truly enormous plane stands across the road from the church at Ayia Mauri. It is tempting to think it was planted when the church was built some 500 years ago. There are cafés on both sides of the road which provide a very welcome beer-stop... Plane Platanus orientalis
View of limestone ridge. The ridge beyond Ayia Mauri is of very white limestone. Many of the slopes are terraced for vines. Looking back you can see the high Troodos massif: on the very top are the “golf balls” of the radar station on Mt. Olympos, the highest peak in Cyprus (1952m). View - longday09
View of Lofou. In the middle distance to the left is Lofou, reached after some 8 hours’ walking. You can just make out the sun glinting on the sea on the south coast beyond Limassol. View - longday11
Lofou street. One of the streets in Lofou, an ancient stone-built village. Many of the houses are being restored as tourist accommodation. Lofou street
Lofou taverna. The taverna in Lofou where we had a wonderful meal and were entertained by the owner playing his balalaika. All the food is cooked on the charcoal grill at the left. Lofou taverna
Lofou – view from hotel. The view from my balcony, looking over the village and vineyards in the morning light. Lofou - view from hotel

Drouseia – Neo Chorio via Eagle Rock

Eagle Rock. This rocky tor lies just outside the village of Drouseia. Eagle Rock
Bent olive. This roadside olive tree was bent over by the prevailing wind. Bent olive
Sea squill with star thistle. These were two of the commonest plants flowering in September. In spring these goat-cropped slopes are green with numerous wildflowers. Sea squill with star thistle
Goat caves. These caves under the limestone ridge were used as goat shelters. This area is famous for its wildflowers in spring. The tree in the middle is an olive. Goat caves


Akamas view. The high point of the Akamas Peninsula in the evening light. Akamas view evening
Akamas view. Two views of the Akamas. Akamas view
Akamas view. Akamas view2
Juniper. Bent by the winds coming off the sea, and hugging the limestone rock. Juniper
View from restaurant. The view across the sea from the restaurant near the Baths of Aphrodite, in the evening, looking NW. View from restaurant01
View from restaurant. Looking SE. Note the agave flowering stems bottom right. View from restaurant02


Pafos – view of sea. View from the hotel balcony with palm trees on the beach (there were bananas too). Pafos - view of sea


Quercus alnifolia leaves. This “golden oak” is a Cyprus endemic, and was probably the commonest shrub/small tree in the mountains and forests. The leaves are characteristically orange underneath. Quercus alnifolia leaves
Quercus alnifolia acorns. This photo shows the shiny upperside of the leaves, and the acorns in their almost spiny cups. Quercus alnifolia acorns
Quercus infectoria ssp veneris. This magnificent oak tree is at Pyrgos tis Regeinas, a place where Aphrodite is supposed to have bathed, and where a medieval monastery was later built. Quercus infectoria ssp veneris
Quercus infectoria ssp veneris (detail). A close-up of the trunk of this huge oak (and its name-board). Quercus infectoria ssp veneris (detail)
Colchicum troodi detail. A close-up of the autumn colchicum from the Troodos mountains, where it was locally quite common. Colchicum troodi detail
Star thistle. This pretty yellow thistle-like flower was very common everywhere except the high mountains. Flowers about 1½in (c.4cm) across. It is probably Centaurea hyalolepis. Star thistle
Urginea maritima – sea squill. This extraordinary plant was locally common. It emerges from a huge bulb almost 6in (15cm) across, with no visible leaves (they emerge in the spring). The flower spikes are a couple of feet tall, and each flower is up to ½in (1cm) across. Urginea maritima - sea squill
“Dyeplant”. I am not sure what this is, but it was fairly common in the lower areas; it is (or was) used to make dye from. Flower spikes c.10in (25cm) tall. Dyeplant

Species Lists


Many of these were only seen as leaves, or seedheads.

Acer obtusifoliummaple (but with hardly-lobed leaves)
Alnus orientalisalder (asiatic)
Alyssum troodiTroodos alyssum (endemic)
Arabis purpureapurple arabis (endemic)
Arbutus andrachneCyprus strawberry tree (usually a bush, v. common)
Asphodelus sp.asphodel (bulbs)
Berberis creticabarberry
Capparis spinosacaper
Carlina spp.carline thistles, some very large
Cedrus libani var. brevifoliaCyprus cedar (a distinct endemic variety of the cedar of Lebanon)
Centaurea hyalolepisgolden star thistle, very common
Cistussunrose [5spp. C. creticus (pink), C. salvifolius (white), C. parvifolius, C. ladanifer and C. monspeliensis]
Colchicum troodiautumn colchicum, locally common
Crataegus azarolusyellow-berried hawthorn
Crataegus monogynacommon (red-berried) hawthorn
Cupressus sempervirenscypress
Dianthus sp.pinks
Ecballium elateriumexploding cucumber
Echinops spinosissimusgiant globe thistle
Foeniculum vulgarefennel
Genista fasselatagenista (“broom”)
Genista sphacelataspiny gorse
Helichrysum siculumcurry plant
Juniperus [several spp., incl. J. oxycedrus, J. phoenicea, J. foetidissima, J. excelsa]
Laurus nobilisbay
Lonicera etruscahoneysuckle
Mentha longifolia ssp. cypricamint (grows in damp spots)
Myrtus communismyrtle
Nerium oleanderoleander
Origanum spp.oregano, incl. O.majorana var. tenuifolium (endemic)
Paeonia mascula ssp. masculawild peony
Pinus brutiaCalabrian or common pine
Pinus halepensisAleppo pine (introduced)
Pinus nigrablack or mountain pine (mostly subsp. pallasiana, some subsp. caramanica)
Pistachia lentiscusmastic tree
Pistachia terebinthusterebinth or turpentine tree
Platanus orientaliseastern plane
Populus nigra var. afghanicablack poplar
Rosa caninadog rose
Rosa chionistraeendemic rose
Rhus coriariasumach
Rubus sanctaCyprus bramble
Salix sp.willow (possibly S. alba)
Salviasage [several spp. including S. willeana and S. fruticosa]
Silene sp.campion (possibly S.cyprica)
Smilax asperasmilax vine
Sorbus aria ssp. creticaWhitebeam
Styrax officinalisstorax
Taraxacum sp.dandelion (leaves in spring, “naked” flowers autumn)
Thymus capitatusthyme
Quercus alnifoliusendemic “golden oak”
Quercus brevifolius (?)evergreen oak (can’t find this in the reference book!)
Quercus infectoria ssp. veneris“royal oak”
Quercus coccifera“evergreen oak”
Urginea maritimasea squill (locally common, grows from a large bulb)
Vicia sp.vetch
Viola siehianaviolet (leaves only)

In autumn when I was there there were relatively few plants in flower, but there were seedheads, some of them quite ornamental such as the giant carline thistles. The fruits of the exploding cucumber were extraordinary – about the shape and size of gherkins, if they are touched when ripe they do indeed explode – you can hear the seeds landing all around you several feet from the plant!

Many of the plants have (or had) medicinal or industrial uses, for example the wild peony was used for medicine, and the cistus species provided “ladanum” gum. The wood of the arbutus is very hard, and was used for (tobacco) pipes and making chairs.

Some, such as the bramble, yellow-berried hawthorn, thyme, oregano and caper, have culinary uses. Other plants are poisonous and to be avoided, for instance the colchicum.

Among the crops are peanuts, beans, various grains such as wheat, and orchards of apples, pomegranates, almonds, olives, carobs, walnuts,... and of course vineyards. We also saw pear and fig trees growing along the roadside.


Little Egret (?)
Marsh Harrier (f)
Buzzard (?)
Kestrel (f)
Eleanora’s Falcon
Chukar partridge
Coot (? – but grey wings and dark brown neck)
Collared Dove
Domestic Pigeon
Little Owl (? – could possibly have been Scops Owl)
Nightjar (? – seen hawking at dusk)
Swift (at first I thought it was Pallid Swift as definitely brown; young?)
Bee-eater – very common
Hoopoe – my guide saw one which I missed...
Crested Lark
Red-rumped swallow
House Martin
Wren (heard, not seen)
Cyprus Pied Wheatear
Cyprus Warbler
Whitethroat (family party)
Leaf Warbler, probably willow warbler (pale yellow-green, brown legs)
Coal tit
Great tit
Lesser Grey Shrike (?)
House Sparrow
Greenfinch (f or young)
Crossbill (not seen, but fircones eaten)

The butterfly seen in the Caledonia gorge is a cardinal, Argynnis pandora (Pandoriana pandora in many books). I also saw many meadow brown-type butteflies, and one small blue one.

Text and Pictures by Gill Smith © Copyright 2005