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ALGERIA
Plants and Animals

Plants and Animals

Plants

Due to the size of the country, the landscapes of Algeria show all the vegetation types found in North Africa. A visit to Algiers' botanical garden Jardin d'Essai du Hamma is highly recommended in that regard. This botanical garden was founded in 1830 and contains one of the largest botanical collections in Africa.

Jardin d'Essai du Hamma, Algeria's largest botanical garden Photo: Ludovic Courtès Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

Approx. 5000 years ago, much of the mountainous coastal region was covered with deciduous and coniferous forests. Cedars, pine, stone and cork oaks grew right up to the surf of the Mediterranean.

<p">As in many places in Africa, the landscape has changed drastically over thousands of years, mainly due to man. By clearing trees for more agricultural land, enormous areas of forests disappeared. There were also many forest fires, including during the War of Independence (1954-1962). Normally nature recovers quite quickly after a fire, but in Algeria new plantings and young shoots were immediately eaten by large goat herds. Since the late 1970s, forests have been planted again in a systematic manner.

New plant species were imported from other regions, such as tropical Africa, Southwest Asia, India and South-America. Thus, the olive tree spread as a characteristic tree throughout the Mediterranean region. This was introduced about 600 BC. by Phoenician merchants in Carthage (Tunisia) and Marsilia (Marseilles), and the Romans often used the olive tree as a border tree. At the time of Alexander the Great's conquests (331-324 BC), rice, cotton and citrus fruits were introduced in the Mediterranean, citrus trees at first even only as ornamental plants. Arab tribes spent between the 7th and 12th centuries AD. date palms, sugar cane and papyrus to North Africa. Even more exotic plants and trees were brought by the Portuguese from East Asia, after rounding the Cape of Good Hope in the 15th century. After 1492, completely new varieties were imported from the 'new world', North, Central and South America, including potatoes, corn, tomatoes, peanuts, paprika, agave, cacti and bougainvillea. From the mid-18th century, under the colonial rule of France, the Canary Islands palm, eucalyptus species and the mandarin tree were introduced.

Trees

The olive tree is one of the longest living cultivated plants, specimens more than a thousand years old are no exception. The fruits of this evergreen tree, with an oil percentage of 30-35%, are harvested between November and March.

Olive grovePhoto: Petr Pakandi Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic no changes made

Large contiguous coniferous forests are not common anymore in Algeria. Still, conifers such as the Aleppo pine, the maritime pine can still be seen in many places, but more in a solitary environment. Cypresses, including the Atlas cedar, which can also become very old, are also characteristic of the Mediterranean.

Special is the Algerian silver pine, which only occurs in Algeria, especially on the slopes of the Djebel Babor, the second highest mountain in Algeria.

Cork Oak AlgeriaPhoto: Ballista Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 no changes made

Cork oaks are mainly found in the western Mediterranean, and when they are 15-20 years old one can start 'harvesting' the cork.

The fast-growing eucalyptus tree, about 50 species were introduced around 1850 from Australia, has a smooth, greenish trunk, is often lined with streets and provides plenty of shade.

Macchia of maquis

Macchia or maquis, thriving in a rocky, dry environment, is an evergreen and fairly impenetrable type of vegetation with man-sized (2-4 meters high) trees and aromatic bushes with often small, hard leaves. Typical species for this vegetationtype are the European dwarf palm, the only native palm species, heather broom species and spiny spurge species. If the conditions for the macchia deteriorate, a scrubland vegetation develops with mainly shrubs that do not exceed 1.5 meters, including the kermesik.

Palms

With the exception of the European dwarf palm, all palm species in Algeria come from tropical or subtropical regions such as the Cape region in South Africa or the coastal region of California. The dwarf palm is the only wild palm species native to the Mediterranean. The royal palm, native to South America and the Antilles, can often be found in parks.

European dwarf palm, the only native palm species of Algeria Photo: tato grasso Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic no changes made

Fruit trees

The fig tree, which flowers three times a year and bears figs twice a year, is native to western Asia Minor. The crooked, thorny and multi-branched pomegranate tree also occurs as a shrub. The pomegranate forms the basis for grenadine, and the watery, sweet-tasting core of the fruit is eaten as a dessert. Apricots were used in the first century AD. from China via Persia, Armeni to Italy brought. The Arabs ensured the further spread of the apricot, as far as Algeria. Citrus fruits are exported from Southeast Asia and spread India to the rest of the world. Algeria has about 22,000 hectares of mandarin trees in use.

An ancient culture plant is the vine, which originated in the eastern Mediterranean and was spread by the Phoenicians and the Romans. Watermelons came to the countries around the Mediterranean already before Christ. These fruits thrive around Tamanrasset in the south of the Algerian Sahara.

In the culture of the Maghreb, the date palm is a symbol of life. The true date palm (Phoenix dactylifera), which is from Persia and Arabia has been found on the shores of the Mediterranean for 4000 years, making it one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world. The trunk of the date palm grows to a height of 10-30 meters, and the tree annually supplies about 20-50 kg of dates, also known as the 'bread of the desert'. Most dates are harvested from October when the tree is between 40 and 80 years old, and a tree can bear dates for about 100 years.

Dates are also used to make flour, the heart of the tree is used in salads, pressed dates yield 'date honey', the soft date wood is used in construction, mats, brooms, hats, baskets and sandals are made from the fibers of the trees, and the palm leaves are used for fences, among other things. There are about a hundred different types of dates, developed and cultivated over thousands of years, feeding millions of people. Algeria has about 7 million date palms, 6.7 million tons of dates were harvested in 2004, 450,000 tons in Algeria alone. In the entire Maghreb there are about 20 million date palms, 90% of the dates harvested in Algeria are for the local population, only 10% is exported.

Date palm is full of datesPhoto : B Simpson Cairocamels Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported no changes made

Flowers and plants

The oleander is a beloved evergreen, but poisonous shrub that is found throughout Algeria. From May to autumn, the oleanders bloom in many colors, from white, rose yellow to dark red.

The coasts of all countries bordering the Mediterranean are impossible to imagine without the beautiful creeper bougainvillea, they bloom from February to late autumn in the colors white, yellow, pink and dark red. The plant is native to South America and was introduced to Brazil for the first time. discovered by the French Admiral Antoine de Bougainville.

Typical steppe plants that occur in Algeria are agave, esparto or esparto grass, opuntia or disc cacti and castor or castor oil tree.

Agaves and disc cacti often together form the secretion between agricultural plots to keep sheep and goats out. Agaves only develop candlestick-like flowers of up to three after 10-15 yearsmeters high. The esparto or esparto grass is a very characteristic steppe plant that thrives on stony, marl-like soil. Esparto grass is used, among other things, to make rope; The fibers are used to make high-quality paper. Disc cacti still grow well on a dry, infertile soil where nothing else can grow. From March to April, the disc cactus bears large yellow flowers, from which fig-like, juicy fruits emerge at the end of August, which, for example, is used to make jam. The castor tree or castor oil tree is actually a shrub, belongs to the spurge family and can grow to a height of more than ten meters in a few years. Seeds of this very old cultivated crop have been found in 4,000-year-old Egyptian graves. Castor oil (castor oil) is pressed from the highly toxic castor oil beans, which is used in soaps, lubricants, perfumes and medicines.

Castor oil beans are poisonous but can be used for many purposes used Photo: Schnobby Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

In the Sahara, plants have each developed their own survival technique to defy the drought, because the soil of the Sahara is fertile, but it simply lacks sufficient water. For example, a single shower of rain can make the desert look like a sea of flowers. However, this is only an appearance, because the rain is retained by the plants until enough has fallen and the plant can germinate. The special thing about the seeds of these plants is that plants of the same species germinate under different humidity conditions. Some seeds germinate after one rain onion, others germinate after years. This varied germination keeps the species alive. Other species store moisture in roots or leaves to survive drought and scorching heat. Typical desert plants are the Sahara acacia, tamarisk, sodom apple, bitter melon and the herb cistanche. Special and very rare is the Sahara cypress or 'tarout', a conifer species of which there are only a few hundred in the Algerian Sahara. These trees grow to about 11 meters high and have roots that penetrate up to 60 meters deep into the soil to absorb water. All trees are in a national park that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They are among the oldest trees in the world with ages of over 3500 years.

The Sahara cypress is a of oldest trees in the world Photo: Gruban Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic no changes made

Extract from plants, trees, flowers, herbs and grasses that are found in Algeria

strawberry treeyellow lookMale Orchid
field bedstrawyellow stenbergiamyrtle
Algerian oakcommon jasmineMarsh Orchid
Algerian sagegreat nymph herbswamp bedding
Algerian silver pinelarge-flowered lavaterared flax
anaboombig loosestrifeWhite Willow
atheltamariskharlequinornamental onion
Atlas cedarBumblebee Orchidsniporchis
henbanecentenary aloeSpanish barge or field maple
bosbingel herbhulsteikspear thistle
brown mirror orchidthin dravikprickly juniper
Chinese privetCarob treestemless primrose
three-horned bedstrawsmall canary grassSlender Thistle
true goldenrodlittle nymph herbfunnel malva
real bay leafsmall sea grasstreacle narcissus
squirrel grasslittle honey cloverfig tree
esparto or feather grassnodding thistleeyelash pearl grass
Phoenician Juniperbullet lookwoolly snowball
cow parsleycrow lookmaritime pine
French tamariskcrooked tailblack pine
yellow hypocistcrop pair

Yellow hypocistPhoto: Bouba Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

Animals

Prehistoric petroglyphs by Tassili N'Ajjer, among others, indicate that elephants, giraffes and rhinos once roamed Algeria. At the moment, however, few mammals are left and can only be seen in very remote places. There are fewer than 100 mammal species in Algeria, of which several dozen are endangered in their existence. Species that are still common are gazelles, porcupine, antelope, common or golden jackal, Egyptian ichneumon or Egyptian mongoose, spotted hyena, wolf, wild boar and genet cat.

Fennec fox or desert fox, national animal of AlgeriaPhoto: Umberto Salvagnin Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic no changes made

In the mountainous areas of the Sahara, the very shy barbary sheep can still be found and the fennec fox or desert fox is perfectly adapted to the harsh conditions. The largest rodent in the Sahara is the North African gundi. In addition, in the Sahara there are also: desert cat, Cape hare and sand fox, dorcas gazelle, tailless Barbary macaque, Sahara cheetah, serval and Mediterranean or common monk seal.

Algeria has about 200 endemic bird species, of which about ten are endangered. Hundreds of millions of migratory birds still fly over the Sahara every year on their way to the warmth of Central Africa. Some complete that grueling journey in just 40 hours, about half dying along the way. Birds encountered in Algeria include lanner falcon, marble duck, muscovy partridge, blue rock thrush, greylag goose, golden eagle, crossbill and black-throated bunting. The desert sparrow is also referred to as 'moula moula' by the Tuaregs and this bird is said to bring good luck if it stays near a Tuareg camp.

Desert Sparrow or moula moulaPhoto: L .Shyamal CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

The Algerian Nuthatch is an endemic passerine bird found only in the mountain forests of the Kabyli region. The Algerian Nuthatch is very similar to the Corsican Nuthatch and was only discovered in 1973. The El-Kala National Park, located between Annaba and the Tunisian border, is an important resting place during the migration for rare water birds such as tufted duck, white-headed duck and white-eyed duck. All heron species of North Africa are also found in this area, with Lac Tonga and the lagoons around El Kala as the most famous locations.

Overview animals in Algeria

BATS
Blasius' horseshoe batregular round-leaf noselate flyer
forest batgreat horseshoe batLong-winged bat or Schreiber's bat
Canary Islands long-eared batgreat red-tailed batMehely's Horseshoe Bat
Capaccini's batHemprich's Long-eared Batpurple horseshoe bat
trident leaf batpotted bat or eyelash batRueppel's piping bat
Egyptian blow-nosed batbald-bellied burial batSavi's pipistrelle bat
European free-tailed batlesser horseshoe batTheban slit-nosed bat
Phoenician-eared batlittle blow-nosed bat
Common Pipistrelle BatKuhl's Pipistrelle Bat

Deceased Theban Splenosed bat Photo: Bernard Dupont Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic no changes made

PREPARATIONS
African Wildcatstriped hyenalionserval
caracalstriped weaselleopardweasel
Egyptian ichneumoncommon jackalswamp mongoosedesert cat
fennekhoney badgerotterwolf
genetcatcheetahred foxsand fox

Desert cat or sand catPhoto: Greg Hume Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

RODENTS AND INSECT EATERS
Abyssinian hedgehogCape Hareshaw desert mouse
acomys seuratiCape cliff badger or rock cliff badgersteppe short-tailed badger or yellow-spot short-haired badger
Algerian gerbilsmall Egyptian race mouseSundeval gerbil
Algerian mouselittle desert jumping mousedraft hedgehog or Algerian hedgehog
Barbary ground squirrelrabbitgarden shrew
wood mouseLibyan gerbilfat sand rat
fat-tailed mouse or fat-tailed gerbilNorth African goendieyelash shrew
Egyptian spiny mouseNorth African elephant shrewdesert goendi
common porcupineGiant Desert Spring Mousedesert dormouse
large North African gerbilsavanna harezebra grass mouse

North African goendiPhoto: Oona Räisänen Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

MARINE ANIMALS
blue marlinbig-faced sharkbluntnose sixgill shark
bluefin tunaGreat Hammerhead Sharkiron roughshark
blackberry sharkporbeaglespinning top shark
Cuvier's dolphinShortfin mako sharkbottlenose dolphin
Dark Belly Lantern Sharkleatherback turtleFalse Spurdog or Black Shark
minke whaleLoggerhead Turtlewhite shark
scalloped hammerhead sharkkiller whalesandbar shark or great finned shark
striped dolphinsperm whaleblacktip shark
Common Dolphinbasking sharkblacktip reef shark
regular octopus or crackrough gullet sharksand tiger shark
fin whaleDusky SharkBlack Killer Whale
gramper or gray dolphinbeaked dolphin
pilot whalebeaked sevengill shark

Blacktip SharkPhoto: Public Domain

ANIMALS
addax of Mendes antelopeduingazelleman sheep
algazel or sabeloryxred deerNorthern Algerian Gazelle
damagazelleedmigazellewild boar or wild boar
dorcasgazelleheartbreak

Dorcasgazelles AlgeriaPhoto: Osado Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported no changes made

AMPHIBIAËN AND REPTILES
African Thorn-tailed Dragoncommon chameleonwall gecko
boomslangregular pathSahara sand viper
Egyptian cobragreen pathtwo-fingered skink
European pond terrapinlittle three-fingered skinkdesert horn viper
European tjitjakMediterranean tree frogdesert monitor
fringe lizardSpurr-tighed tortoisesaw scale ladder

Spurr-tighed Tortoise, AlgeriaPhoto: Moise Nicu Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported no changes made

Click the menu button at the top left of the screen for more information

Sources

Agada, Birgit / Algerien : Kultur und Natur zwischen Mittelmeer und Sahara
Trescher

BBC - Country Profiles 

Beker, Michel / Algerije
KIT Publishers/Oxfam Novib

CIA - World Factbook 

Elmar Landeninformatie

Ham, Anthony / Algeria
Lonely Planet

Kagda, Falaq / Algeria
Marshall Cavendish

Oakes, Jonathan / Algeria
Bradt Travel Guides

Last updated September 2021
Copyright: Team Landenweb