The Full Wiki

Laurisilva: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Laurisilva of Madeira*
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Type Natural
Criteria ix, x
Reference 934
Region** Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 1999  (23rd Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.
Laurisilva in the Garajonay National Park on La Gomera, Canary Islands
Laurisilva in La Palma, Canary Islands
Laurisilva canopy in Tenerife, Canary Islands

Laurisilva or laurissilva ("laurel forest") is an endemic type of humid subtropical laurel forest found on several of the Macaronesian islands of the North Atlantic, namely Madeira Islands, the Azores and the Canary Islands, a precious relic of the Pliocene subtropical forests, supporting numerous endemic species.

The forests are made up of laurel-leaved evergreen hardwood trees, reaching up to 40 meters in height. Many of the species are endemic to the islands, and harbor a rich biota of understory plants, invertebrates, and birds and bats.

Laurisilva formerly covered much of the Azores and Madeira and parts of the western Canary Islands, but the forests have been much reduced in extent by logging, clearance for agriculture and grazing, and the invasion of exotic species. The most extensive laurisilva forests remain on Madeira, where they are found between 300 and 1400 meters altitude in the northern slope, and 700-1600 meters altitude in southern slope, and cover 149,5 km². In the Canary Islands, roughly 60 km² of laurisilva remain on Tenerife, smallest areas on La Palma, over 20 km² in Garajonay National Park on La Gomera, and relic areas in Gran Canaria. In the Azores, small patches of laurisilva forest remain on the islands of Pico, Terceira, and São Miguel.

The Madeira laurisilva forests, the largest remaining stands, were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.[1] Predominant lauraceous trees include Til (Ocotea foetens), Loureiro (Laurus novocanariensis), Vinhático (Persea indica), a valuable hardwood, and Barbosano (Apollonias barbujana); other important trees include Aderno (Heberdenia excelsa), Pau Branco (Picconia excelsa), the Mocanos (Visnea mocanera and Pittosporum coriaceum), and Sanguinho (Rhamnus glandulosa), and the small trees or large shrubs Folhado (Clethra arborea) and Perado (Ilex perado). The forests support a diverse understory of ferns and bryophytes,[2] which both require moisture for reproduction, and of herbaceous plants, including the Leitugas (Sonchus spp.), geraniums (Geranium maderense, G. palmatum and G. rubescens), the Estreleiras (Argyranthemum spp.) and the endemic orchid Goodyera macrophylla.

The laurisilva forests of Macaronesia are relicts of a vegetation type which originally covered much of the Mediterranean Basin when the climate of the region was more humid. With the drying of the Mediterranean Basin during the Pliocene, the laurel forests gradually retreated, replaced by more drought-tolerant sclerophyll plant communities. Most of the last remaining laurisilva forests around the Mediterranean are believed to have disappeared approximately 10,000 years ago at the end of the Pleistocene, when the Mediterranean basin became drier and with a harsher climate, although some remnants of the laurel forest flora still persist in the mountains of southern Spain, north-center of Portugal and northern Morocco, and two constituent species (Laurus nobilis and Ilex aquifolium) remain widespread. The location of the Macaronesian Islands in the North Atlantic Ocean moderated these climatic fluctuations, and maintained the relatively humid and mild climate which has allowed these forests to persist to the present day.

See also


  1. ^ UNESCO: "Laurisilva of Madeira
  2. ^ Susana Fontinha, et al. Os briófitos da laurissilva da Madeira: guia de algumas espécies ("The bryophytes of the laurisilva of Madeira: guide to some species"), Serviço do Parque Natural da Madeira, 2006.

Coordinates: 32°46′N 17°0′W / 32.767°N 17°W / 32.767; -17

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address