Flora and the fauna of Madeira
|On the 1,500 species of indexed plants, 234 are endemic plants macaronésiennes and 156 meet only in Madeira, that is to say 67%. Of all the plants which exist only in Macaronésie, two thirds thus exist only in Madeira.|
On all the slopes, in the gardens and even along the roads, the flowers and the plants abound: hydrangeas, geraniums, hibiscuses, agapanthes, bougainvilleas, fuchsias, euphorbiums, but also orchises, anthuriums and strelitzias, cultivated for export.
|Bird of paradise (Strelitzia reginae)||Pink amaryllis (Amaryllis |
|Blue Agapanthe (Agapanthus umbellatus)|
|Trumpets Angels (Brugmansia sp)||Vipérine of Madeira (Echium fastuosum)||Orchis|
|Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla)|
|Joubarbe plate (Aeonium glandulosum)|
|Sea level up to approximately 300 m, it is the subtropical zone. Several species of trees cover flowers periodically: the mimosa, the magniolia, the sumauma (red flowers or pinks) and the jacaranda (mauve flowers).|
Above 300 m, and up to 750 m, it is the hot moderate zone, of Mediterranean climate, field of the vine, cereals (corn, corn, oats) and of the fruits. The latter are varied: fruits of the European countries like exotic oranges, pears, apples, plums, and fruits, with the guavas, lawyers, mangos, pineapple and maracujàs (fruits of passion).
Between 750 and 1,300 m, one find the laurisylve, of which the origin goes back to the tertiary era, primarily made up of various species of bay-trees (lii, vinhático, laureiro) which reach sometimes 30 m in height, still populates some wild sectors of the northern coast.
This forest, which formerly recovered most of Europe, was destroyed by the glaciations and exceptionally preserved in some islands, such Madeira. Single, it today is entirely protected and known botanists of the whole world. She saw in a medium that she contributes to create, where moisture is constantly higher than 85%. Often in the clouds, it absorbs moisture and accumulates of it thus more water still than that brought by the rains, however important (between 1,500 mm and 3,000 mm per annum). She plays a central role in the protection of the grounds and the infiltration of rainwater, and makes it possible to slow down the effects of erosion.
It is thought that the various plant species present on the Madeira before the man puts the foot at it would have been brought in the form of seeds by the birds, the wind and the Ocean. One thus finds there species of ferns unknown in the rest of Europe, but present at the Antilles in particular.
As for the summits, above 1,300 m, they are the field of the pastures and the ferns.
|Eucalyptus, blue gommier (Eucalyptus globulus)|
|Tulipier of Gabon (Spathodea campanulata)|
Insects and Arachnida
|One knows in Madeira more than two hundred species of birds, of which a kinglet which seems to be particular in this island, the bisbis (Regulus maderiensis); other birds, of very restricted number, are known only in Madeira, the Canaries and the Azores. But one will be certainly surprised by the scarcity of the birds, and the silence of the forests where one could expect their pépiements and with their songs.|
But, in all and for all, there exist only 36 species of birds nicheurs on the island (43 on the whole of the archipelago): tubes, falcons, sparrowhawks, larks, owls, goldfinches, wagtails gray and yellow, kinglets of Madeira, robins, Trocaz pigeons and especially the petrel of Madeira.
Let us note that the Trocaz pigeon exists only in Madeira and that it is enfeoffed with the forests of bay-trees of the northern coast of which it appreciates bays as well as cabbages in the cultures. Just like its medium, it is recently entirely protected.
But the many migrating ones make stopover, of which a small number of victims come from the American continent with the storms of the west.
|Finch of the trees (Fringilla coelebs madeirensis)|
|The shores of the Madeira are very full of fish: fishing with large is one of great attractions of Funchal. The tuna (atum), the black swordfish (espada), the shark, the cachalot (increasingly rare) there is caught systematically, either with broad outlines with the multiple hooks â depths reaching 1,000 m easily, or with the harpoon. The catches intended for everyday consumption are carried out with the net. To announce: the presence of some marine tortoises, rather small, of the size of those which one will observe with the aquarium-museum of Funchal.|
The most known fish is without any doubt the espada (fish sabers, a kind of eel), this famous fish which one especially finds off Madeira and at sea of China.
|No snake in Madeira, but of the hundreds of thousands of gray lizards which adore the grape (a calamity for the vines!) and very familiarly come to nibble in the hollow of the hand the sugar refineries that one offers to them. The lizards are, with the seals, only vertebrate terrestrial the already present ones on the island at the time of colonization.|
|One will find here or there rabbits, some marked wild pigs, pipe cleaners.|
Madeira counts few pets, and practically not of draft animal except for the few mules which still draw from the carts in the streets of Funchal, and of the oxen which one harnesses with these curious carriages of lazy kings for tourists, the acclimatization was never possible. Moreover it would have been vain: sometimes only the man can circulate and work in these fields in terraces, staged with the side of the abrupt mountains, and not broader than a path. One raises however cows, which live in cattle sheds with the thatched roof, the palheiros, when they do not graze the flowers at the edge of the roads; goats which run away themselves with the noise of the engines; some black sheep even more savage.
A species, although in theory protected, is that of the seal monk, decimated a long time by the fishermen and of which it does not remain any more that about twenty individuals along the Desertas islands. The animal was however well represented on the Madeira when the Portuguese unloaded there. The village of fishermen of Câmara de Lobos, i.e. the room of the wolves testifies some by its name. The first colonists were indeed impressed on their arrival by these animals, which they named of the old seamen.
Off the coasts of Madeira, one finds cachalots and other species of marine mammals. Today, these endangered species all are practically protected. A cachalot female measures on average 11 m and can reach 18 m length.
Of all the species of whales, the cachalot, which can reach some 3 m depths, is the champion of the diving. As of the 16th century, one fished the whale in Madeira, in particular for his grease and his oil, used at medical and industrial ends. The meat and the bones were eaten or were used as manure. Amber was required for its scent, the oil of liver was consumed for its content of vitamin D. It is in Caniçal that one brought back then cut up the poor animals. The museum of this city recalls all this epopee very well.