Flora

The fertility of the Azorean soil is visible through the abundant green pastures bordered by colourful flowers. The thick natural vegetation is composed of numerous endemic species which are complemented by many newer arrivals. Agricultural activity is therefore limited not only due to the landscape, inaccessible and steep slopes,  but also to the abundance of a noncommercial vegetation.

The vegetation of the Azores is composed of 56 indigenous species and is considered one of the most interesting in Europe. A short list of the dominant species is as follows: Cedar (Juniperus brevifolia), English Holly (Ilex perado ssp.azorica), Sheepberry (Viburnum tinus, ssp.subcordatum), Scotch Heather (Daboecia azorica), Heath (Erica scoparia, ssp.azorica), Wildberry (Vaccinium cylindraceum), Spurge-flax Daphne (Euphorbia stygiana), “Pau Branco” (Picconia azorica), Morello Wild Cherry (Prunus lusitanica ssp.azorica).

Co-inhabiting with these various species, in the most barren areas are flora of the “Macaronesia” species which enrich the region not only botanically and scientifically but also by enhancing the  visual beauty of the landscape. Among these, the most distinguished are the Brazilian Mahogany (Persia indica), the “Tamujo” (Myrsine africana), the Dogwood (Frangula azorica), and the Laurel tree (Laurus azorica), to name just aa few.

Many other species were introduced to enhance the beauty of the countryside and for commercial development. The Japanese Cryptomeria, which was introduced to the region about 100 years ago, is highlighted due to its extreme importance in lumber production for both the regional market and for export. The Acacia (Acacia melanoxylon) is another species strongly implanted in the Region and is second to the Cryptomeria in lumber production.

There remain a large variety of species varying from sub-shrub to large trees which are used as ornaments, as property dividers, or as shelter from the wind for the many fruit farms, vineyards, and cultivated lands. The most common examples of this are the garden walls of the Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla), the picturesque groves of Azaleas (Rhododendron indicum), and the elegant hedges of Camellias (Camellia japonica).

The Bead Tree (Hedychium gardnerianum), the Agapanthus (Agapantus praecox), the Belladonna (Brunsvigia rosea), the Aroids-Jarra (Zantedeschia aethiopica) and many others complete the beauty of the Azorean landscape.