Morocco’s Fascinating Flora

There is more to Morocco than meets the eye at first glance. It is filled with magnificent sights, historical wonders and mythical deserts, with a range of activities that include everything from camel riding to extreme sports. If visitors take the time to look closer at the flora that blankets the various parts of Morocco, they will find that the country is actually rich in plant life and boasts numerous rare species. Morocco is divided into eight phytogeographic zones that preserve these breathtaking plant species, which are vital to the existence of animal, insect and bird life in the country.

The flora found in Morocco is extremely diverse. The eight phytogeographic zones are the Cedar Zone, Mediterranean Zone, Semi-Desert Scrub Zone, Oases, Sandy Desert Zone, the Reg Zone and the Sub-Alpine Zone. Approximately 4 900 taxa can be found in these zones and there are approximately six hundred and fifty of these taxa which are endemic. Of these numbers, an estimated 1282 are classified as subspecies.

The Mediterranean Zone is also referred to as the Coastal Zone and there are some areas that are not accessible due to them being protected areas, as they have been previously degraded and are now preserved, allowing the vegetation to recover. Some of the plants found in this zone include Lonicera, Asparagus, Clematis, Citrus, Smilax, Casuarina, Loquat, Eucalyptus, Opuntia ficus indica and Fennel. Other plants featured here include Narcissus tazetta, Juniperninus, Clamatis cirrhosa and many more.

The Central Zone is home to the cedar forests, covering a large region of the Middle Atlas, and is very impressive. Some of the species found here include Prunus amygdalus, Cedrus liabani var atlantica and Iberis, to name a few. The Middle Atlas Lakes, such as Lac Ouiouane, Lac Bin El Ouidanne Ouaouzerth and Lac Aguelmame Aziza can also be found here, but are protected areas, and the Parc National de Tazekka is also in this zone.

Onobrychis cornuta is the dominant species of the Sub-Alpine Zone, and it is also an area that does not feature trees. It is mostly Acantholimon, Astragalus and Onobrychis. The Alpine Zone is located at a height of 2 500 meters and features large quantities of Vicia canescens, and has plants that are unique to the zone that cannot be found in other areas of Morocco.

The Desert Zones include the Little Atlas and Sahara, featuring semi-desert scrub and plants such as Tamarix spp, Rarama reta, Zixiphus and Pistacia altantica, with various other scrubs and small bushes breaking the sandy landscapes. Oases also offer a break in the desert landscapes, with beautiful botanical gardens and orchids bringing beauty to the regions they are located in. Morocco is most definitely a flora diverse region, and will surprise visitors with its rich plant life.