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Flora and Fauna

The proximity of the Atlantic Ocean, the geological characteristics and its high altitude mean that the Serra de Monchique (Monchique Mountain) has a microclimate where plant species thrive that are not found in other parts of the Algarve (Portuguese oak (Quercus faginea), laurel (Laurus nobilis), black alder (Frangula alnus subsp. baetica), mock privet (Phillyrea latifolia) and firetree (Myrica faya), common rhododendron (Rhododendron ponticum)Campanula  primulifolia.

Along the banks of its water lines, several riparian species still occur, i.e. trees that are able to live in the water, such as alders, ash trees and willows.

All this diversity has given rise to specific habitats for species of fauna and flora, making the Serra de Monchique (Monchique Mountain) a true "living laboratory". Here, plant species are born that are almost unique in the world, such as a subspecies of rhododendron known as adelfeira, a relic of the Laurissilva (laurel) forest that once existed there and which lilac blossom embellishes the green of the mountains in spring.

In addition to adelfeira, there is also holly, the strawberry tree (the fruit of which is used to produce the famous medronho [a Portuguese liqueur]), the rhododendron and various types of broom, gorse and heather which dominate the exuberant vegetation. The oak, chestnut and cork-oak trees, which once existed in abundance, are giving way to the profitability of pine and eucalyptus trees.

The Serra de Monchique (Monchique Mountain) is also home to the Monchique oak, a rare and threatened species that in Portugal only occurs in this location. This fast-growing tree, which seeks to be close to the maritime climate, can live for more than 300 years and is part of relict forests that date back to the Miocene (between 23 and 5 million years ago).

As far as fauna is concerned, the unique conditions of this mountain have made it the privileged habitat of various species of mammals, reptiles and birds. Endangered, the Iberian lynx has already roamed these hills and valleys, and there is hope that it can be reintroduced here in the future.

Other protected species in the Serra de Monchique (Monchique Mountain) include the otter, the Cabrera’s vole, the Iberian emerald lizard, the terrapin, the boga-portuguesa, the Bonelli's eagle (which has one of the most important populations in the country, but is difficult to observe due to its discreet habits) and the short-toed snake eagle.

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