A Flora and Fauna of Symi

A personal guide to the wildlife of Symi and beyond

header photo


This site is dedicated to the wildlife of Symi and in particular anyone who has an interest in birds.

Symi belongs to the Dodecanese group of islands about 25 miles North West of Rhodes and over 250 miles from the Greek port of Piraeus. Symi lies between two peninsulas of  Turkey and at its closest is just six miles from Asia. Symi is mountainous and rocky with its highest peak, Vighla, at 620m.  The coastline is irregular  and measures about 85 km with numerous bays and headlands whilst being surrounded with a score or more islands and rocky islets. The island is mostly infertile and rocky (limestone) supporting a typical Mediterranean garrigue comunity of  dwarf shrubs and many aromatic herbs. There are a few small cultivated areas dotted throughout the island, notably above the harbour, Pedi  and elsewhere. Inland there are areas of coniferous forest consisting of cypresses and pine trees. The once cultivated valley of Pedi still supports a wide and varied range of flora and fauna. 

I hope you find this site interesting and I would encourage visitors to send in any pictures or comments you have that would add to the interest of those looking at the wildlife on Symi. Please go to the contact page for an email address.

Latest Sightings and Reports.

Scarce Swallowtail

June 25, 2017

Ascends rapidly on rising warm air with wings flapping but descends gracefully in a floating manner gently using its tail to steer it to a perch on a nearby plant.

Spiny Plants

June 24, 2017

Summer is here now with temperatures in the low 30's. There aren't many wild flowers to be found with goats and sheep having eaten everything except poisonous and very spiny plants. Echinops spinosissimus or the spiny globe thistle does well and is a source of nectar for the honey bee.

Summer Solstice

June 22, 2017

I like to mark the longest day or the summer solstice in some fashion or other every year, so I and a group of friends went up the Vigla last night which at 617 metres is the highest point on the island of Symi. This view is of the Datca peninsular on Turkey.



Scops Owl

June 21, 2017

This cracking picture of a scops owl was sent in by Rene Nielsen. The ear tufts clearly differentiate it from a "little owl". However the fledgling nearby was caught up in some twine and had to be fetched down from the tree and is now being fed by a local headmaster while it recovers.

Wild Onions

June 19, 2017

There seems to be a good showing of wild onions on Symi this year. Allium amethystinum.


Sympetrum fonscolombii

June 18, 2017

A female red veined darter on a stick!

Olive Trees...

June 17, 2017

Just to complete the trio of trees here's a pic of an olive tree blowing in the warm breeze and showing its silvery undersides.....



June 15, 2017

Pistacia lentischi is a small tree or shrub that has very similar properties to the phoenician juniper (see below). In Greece the main product is the gum that is collected in late summer and used to flavour a spirit called mastica. This is the drink that has made the island of Chios famous. Here it is seen without flowers or berries.

Phoenician Juniper

June 14, 2017

This shrub like tree is found all over the Mediterranean and has a life span of about 25 years. It is quite drought resistant and the small berries seen here contain 3 to 8 seeds which are mainly dispersed by birds. The shrub contains an essential oil which is used for many ailments by different countries and apart from the more obvious use to flavour gin the oils from its leaves have been shown to treat diabetes type 2 and help regenerate a damaged liver.

To Bee and not to Bee

June 12, 2017
Honey bees feeding on a myrtle bush and a robber fly feeding on a bee.

View older posts »