Nature in Corsica

Nature in Corsica

Corsica harbors one of the best preserved natural environment in the Mediterranean, with in particular large patches of nearly undisturbed coast. Many original species of plants and animals can be found there, some of which are endemic to the island.

 

The coast

coast near Campomoro

The coast near Campomoro (Sartène, Corse-du-sud). This area free of seaside roads, one of the wildest in Corsica, can be discovered thanks to a beautiful coastal path.

 

Punta di scalonu

La Punta di Scalonu (Sartène, Corse-du-sud). The granitic rocks of the coast get eroded under the action of wind and salt, yielding amazing shapes.

 

 Flora  

Corsican evax (Filago tyrrhenica)

The Corsican evax (Filago tyrrhenica). This tiny plant forms small cushions on sandy grounds near the sea, in the area receiving sea spray. It is native to Corsica and Sardinia.

 

Requien's romulea (Romulea requienii)

Requien's romulea (Romulea requienii). This small plant from the Iris family flowers in spring in rock cracks and sandy areas near the sea. It is found only in Corsica, Sardinia and west Italy.

 

Anchusa crispa

Anchusa crispa. This plante, extremely rare in Corsica, is found only on a few beaches from the south of the island. Growing in busy sites, this plant is endangered.

 

red cytinus (Cytinus hypocistis subsp. clusii)

The red cytinus (Cytinus hypocistis subsp. clusii). This strange plant is found in scrubland below pink-flowered species of the rock-rose family (Cistus), where it parasites their roots. It can be seen together with the yellow cytinus (Cytinus hypocistis subsp. hypocistis, see below), which parasites white-flowered rock-roses !

 

yellow cytinus  (Cytinus hypocistis subsp. hypocistis)

The yellow cytinus  (Cytinus hypocistis subsp. hypocistis). This sub-species is a parasite of the roots of white-flowered rock-roses species.

 

Wind-swept vegetation near Murtoli

Wind-swept vegetation near Murtoli (Sartène, Corse-du-sud). Hundred-year-old Phoenicean junipers (Juniperus phoenicea) are found along the coast. The grassy spots between the rocks harbor uncommon plants such as Requien's romulea (Romulea requienii) and the Corsican evax (Filago tyrrhenica).

 

Illyrian sea lily (Pancratium illyricum)

The Illyrian sea lily (Pancratium illyricum). This beautiful sea lily is easily recognized at its large white flowers. It grows in rock cracks along the coast. This plant is found only in Corsica, Sardinia and in the Tuscan archipelago.

 

small-flowered tongue orchid (Serapias parviflora)

The small-flowered tongue orchid (Serapias parviflora). Corsica harbors many wild orchid species, especially in the limestone area at the southern tip of the island, around Bonifacio. The small-flowered tongue orchid is found in olive groves, meadows, ... It is rather common on the island, while it is rare in mainland France, and fully protected.

 

 Fauna  

ribbed Mediterranean limpet (Patella ferruginea)

The ribbed Mediterranean limpet (Patella ferruginea). This shellfish, one of the most threatened of the Mediterranean, is found in France only in a few spot in Corsica and in the Hyères islands. It is identified by its large size (up to 3 inches) and the deep grooves on its shell. This species is fully protected in France.

 

Tiger beetle (Calomera littoralis)

Tiger beetle (Calomera littoralis). This very agile small carnivorous beetle dwells on sand beaches, where it hunts for preys using its excellent eyesight. The long hairs underneath the eye are distinctive of this species.

 

Corsican tiger beetle (Cicindela campestris corsicana)

The Corsican tiger beetle (Cicindela campestris corsicana). This species is widespread in sandy areas near the sea. Like all tiger beetles, once disturbed it rapidly flies over a few meters before landing again. Corsican populations display an unusually high proportion of melanic individuals, as displayed on this photo.

 

Mediterranean black widow (Latrodectus tredecimguttatus)

The Mediterranean black widow (Latrodectus tredecimguttatus). This spider is probably the only European species whose bite is potentially dangerous for man. It occurs in southern France and Corsica, where it is most common. It lives hidden under rocks, along the coast.

 

Tyrrhenian wall lizard (Podarcis tiliguerta)

The Tyrrhenian wall lizard (Podarcis tiliguerta). This lizard is abundant on rocks and in sandy areas along the coast, but it colonizes almost every habitat including mountains. In spring, males display blue scales along their flanks. This species is endemic to Corsica and Sardinia.

 

pygmy Algyroides (Algyroides fitzingeri)

The pygmy Algyroides (Algyroides fitzingeri). This strange little lizard, endemic to Corsica and Sardinia, is often found on shadowed walls. It is relatively common near Bonifacio (Corse-du-Sud).

 

Sardinian tree frog (Hyla sarda)

The Sardinian tree frog (Hyla sarda). This little frog is abundant in coastal marshes, but can also be found in mountain streams, where it sometimes displays an unusual coloring. It occurs in Corsica, Sardinia, and in the Tuscan archipelago.

 

Tyrrhenian painted frog (Discoglossus sardus)

The Tyrrhenian painted frog (Discoglossus sardus). This small frog only occurs in Corsica, Sardinia, the Hyères islands and in the Tuscan archipelago. In Corsica, it ranges from sea level to 1800 m. In spring, it reproduces in small temporary ponds along the coast. It is very similar to the Corsican painted frog (Discoglossus montalentii), who is scarcer and prefers mountain streams.

 

The mountains

Mountain stream near Soccia

Mountain stream near Soccia (Corse-du-Sud). Corsica has plenty of wild and unpolluted rivers, which support remarkable ecosystems.

 

 Fauna 

Corsican painted frog (Discoglossus montalentii)

The Corsican painted frog (Discoglossus montalentii). This small frog is restricted to Corsica, where it is rather rare. It appreciates clear mountain streams. It looks very similar to the Tyrrhenian painted frog (Discoglossus sardus), also occurring in Corsica, who prefers ponds and rivers at lower elevation. Seen from the side, the Corsican painted frog has a rounder snout. 

 

Corsican painted frog (Discoglossus montalentii) in its habitat

The Corsican painted frog (Discoglossus montalentii) in its habitat. This photo shows how mimic this frog can be, with the green, brown and white patches of its skin perfectly merging with the surroundings of granite stones.

 

 Sardinian tree frog (Hyla sarda)

The Sardinian tree frog (Hyla sarda). This individual, found in a mountain stream pool, exhibits an unusual coloration achieving a perfect camouflage against the lichen-covered granite wall.

 

Corsican fire salamander (Salamandra corsica)

The Corsican fire salamander (Salamandra corsica). This salamander is a Corsican endemic. It typically lives in forests, in the midranges of the Corsican mountains. This juvenile, showing orange (instead of yellow) patches, was found in a small mountain lake.

 

Bedriaga's rock lizard (Archaeolacerta bedriagae)

The Bedriaga's rock lizard (Archaeolacerta bedriagae). This lizard is identified to its characteristic green and black mottled pattern. It is mainly found on rocks and walls in mountains, but sometimes also at sea level. This species is endemic to Corsica and Sardinia.

 

Bedriaga's rock lizard (Archaeolacerta bedriagae)

The Bedriaga's rock lizard (Archaeolacerta bedriagae). During the mating period, males display a few bright blue scales on their flanks.

 

Tyrrhenian wall lizard (Podarcis tiliguerta)

The Tyrrhenian wall lizard (Podarcis tiliguerta). This lizard, restricted to Corsica and Sardinia, is abundant on the coast but also inhabits the mountains. The individual on this photo displays a quite unusual colorful pattern.

 

 Flora  

Crocus minimus

Crocus minimus. This beautiful little plant belongs, together with the Corsican crocus (Crocus corsicus), to the two Corso-Sardinian endemic species of crocus. Both species grow in mountains, sometimes together, and flower in spring. Crocus minimus is readily identified by the golden color of its stigmas.

 

Helichrysum frigidum

Helichrysum frigidum. This delicate plant, endemic to Corsica and Sardinia, grows in cracks of granite walls in mountains up to 2700 m. It flowers in July-August.

 

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