Island Flora: Oh so many Orchids!

Island Flora: Oh so many Orchids!

Blossoming on the islands of Naxos and Iraklia are over 45 different species of orchids combined.

When you think of the Cycladic islands, the first thing you think of is the sea.

And rightly so: the crystal clear waters of the islands are the main attraction.

But on the Cyclades’ largest and greenest island, Naxos, and its neighboring isle, Iraklia, the largest of the small cluster of islands known as the Small Cyclades, are dozens and dozens of beautiful orchids.

Orchid lovers may be interested to know that orchids on Naxos and Iraklia begin blossoming as early as January with the majority of flowering occurring and visible (depending on rain and cold) during the spring months of March and April, with a few in the mountains of Naxos, blossoming until late June.

According to experts in the field, the orchids tend to flower in areas where there are brushwood such as thyme (Coridothymus capitatus), small trees, bushes and shrubs growing in rows (known as pezoules) and in little-grazed areas.

Especially in the Cyclades most species are found in areas with North orientation that hold more soil moisture.

On Naxos, orchids are plentiful and may be seen in the stretch of road Galanado to Chalki. Other single varieties do appear in other parts of the island but in fewer quantities.

On Iraklia, orchids appear in the center of the island.

Significant-to-the-region orchids on each include:

On Naxos: Ophrys thesei (also known as Ophrys andria ssp halkionis)

On Iraklia: Ophrys herakleitiko, is endemic of Iraklia and found in great numbers. It is a new taxon.

For visitors seeking specific guidelines on what orchids to see where please contact John Gavalas, at

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