Representative Habitats

Plants are not casually spread out on the dry land, but each plant lives within a specific interval of mutations of the environmental factors ( climatic, geographical, chemical and biological).

Therefore, a plant will disappear in a certain area, if the environmental factors are not compatible with its ecological needs.

So, the presence or the absence of a  plant species are important biological indicators and they are  precious in order to understand and classify plants.

The Habitats Directive 92/43/CEE refers to this classification in order to define the habitats that need to be safeguarded.


The followings are the habitats of community importance in the Golfo di Gela.


53.Thermo-Mediterranean and pre-steppe

5330 Thermo-Mediterranean and pre-desert scrub

32.23 Diss-dominated garrigues (Sughereta di Niscemi)


The Ampelodesmos is a big gramineae with thick leaves 1 meter long.

It belongs to the Mediterranean-Western area.  In Italy it is mostly common in the Tyrrhenian side of the coast and it gradually increases its presence from Liguria to Calabria.

It is extremely widespread in Sardinia and Sicily, except in the Etna area.


This species is so common thanks to its speed of recovering after a fire.

It usually grows on compact surfaces, rich in clay and  generally deep.


The physiognomy of the habitat is similar to a high and quite discontinuous grassland and the Ampelodesmos is accompanied by chamaephytes, evergreen shrubs, Smilax Aspera, black bryony Tamus Communis, other species of the Mediterranean scrub (Pistacia lentiscus, Myrtus communis and Asparagus acutifolius), Cistus salvifolius and Cistus monspeliensis.


Chamaerops humilis communities are characterized by the dominant co- presence of different species of the Mediterranean scrub.


  1. Sclerophyll Mediterranean forests

9330 Quercus suber forests

The habitat consists of woods  dominated by a considerable presence of the cork oak Quercus Suber, different from the Holm oak for a smaller arboreal area and  more herbaceous and shrub-like species.

There is an excessive grazing and a forest service that, if bad managed, might bring to the invasion of Holm oak species and the loss of others.


  1. grassy and arid semi-natural formations and facies covered by bushes

6220*Pseudo-steppe with grasses and annuals of the Thero-Brachypodietea

These are shortly extended mostly graminaceous prairies on calcareous substratum, except for the Ampelodesmos mauritanicus prairies, which refers to Habitat 5330 (Thermo-Mediterranean and pre-desert scrub under 32.23)

They host annual plants such as the purple false brome (Brachypodium distachyon),

Hypochaeris achyrophorus, Stipa capensis, Tuberaria guttata, Briza maxima, Trifolium cherleri, Linum strictum, Ononis ornithopodioides, Coronilla scorpioides, Lotus ornithopodioides e Polygala monspeliaca.

In Italy this habitat mainly exists in the South and on the islands, with particular micro-climatic conditions of the soil.

A dominant role have the Esparto grass(Lygeum spartum),Thatching grass(Hyparrhenia hirta), accompanied by Bituminaria bituminosa and Convolvulus althaeoides.


  1. Sea water and tidal areas

1110 Sandbanks which are slightly covered by sea water all the time

Sandbanks are elevated, elongated, rounded or irregular topographic features, permanently submerged and predominantly surrounded by deeper water. They consist mainly of sandy sediments, but larger grain sizes, including boulders and cobbles, or smaller grain sizes including mud.

In the coast of Golfo di Gela there are sandbanks permanently submerged with a vegetation composed of macrophytic species (e.g Zosteretum marinae, Cymodoceion nodosae).


  1. Mediterranean deciduous forests

92D0 Southern riparian galleries and thickets (Nerio-Tamaricetea and Securinegion tinctoriae)

Tamarisk (Tamarix gallica e Tamarix africana), oleander (Nerium oleander), and chaste tree galleries and thickets and similar low ligneous formations of permanent or temporary streams and wetlands of the thermo-Mediterranean zone.

The presence of exotic species, such as the the castor oil plant (Ricinus communis), the tree tabacco (Nicotiana glauca), is considerable especially along the streams where this habitat is disturbed by humans.


22: Maritime dunes of the Mediterranean coast

2210 Crucianellion maritimae fixed beach dunes

Fixed dunes with coastal crucianell (Crucianella maritima) and sea daffodil (Pancratium maritimum) on the coasts o f the western and central Mediterranean.

In Italy the habitat is very localized and in a state of regression, probably due to the erosion of the coast which decreases the development of the dunes that are needed.

The tourist exploitation of the coast has also a negative effect on the habitat, where there is also the presence of Seseli tortuosum and Helichrysum stoechas.


22: Maritime dunes of the Mediterranean coast

2230 Malcolmietalia dune grasslands

These are annual plant communities blooming in late winter and spring, occurring in a mosaic pattern with the perennial vegetation of embryonic, mobile, and fixed coastal dunes.

These communities grown on sands that are not excessively nitrified or impacted by human activities, and their survival depends on limiting these factors.

This habitat is typical of the coasts with both a Mediterranean and temperate climate.

This habitat id dominated by: Maresia nana, Evax astericiflora, E. pygmaea, Ononis variegata, Ononis diffusa, Pseudorlaya pumila, Leopoldia gussonei*, Hormuzakia aggregata, Medicago littoralis, Lagurus ovatus, Bromus gussonei, Chamaemelum mixtum, Vulpia membranacea, Alkanna tinctoria,  Lupinus angustifolius, Aetheorhiza bulbosa.


31 stagnant waters

3150 Natural euthrophic lakes with Magnopotamion or Hydrocharition-type vegetation

Lakes and ponds with mostly dirty grey to blue-green, more or less turbid, waters, particularly rich in dissolved bases (pH usually > 7).


  1. atlantic and continental marshes and grazing

1310 Salicornia and other annuals colonizing mud and sand

Formations composed mostly or predominantly of annuals, in particular Chenopodiaceae of the genus Salicornia or grasses, colonising periodically inundated muds and sands of marine or interior salt marshes. In Italy, this habitat also includes Mediterranean organisms typical of deposit areas  along the seaside and the salt marshes constituted of Suaeda, Atriplex and Salsola soda communities.

The vegetation of the habitat occur in micro-mosaics with the cliffs vegetation (Vegetated sea cliffs of the Mediterranean coasts with endemic Limonium spp.) and the dunes formations (2110 Embryonic shifting dunes).


14: Mediterranean and thermo-atlantic marshes and grazing

1430 Halo-nitrophilous scrubs (Pegano-Salsoletea)

Halo-nitrophilous scrubs (matorrals) belonging to the Pegano-Salsoletea class, typical of dry soils
under arid climates, sometimes including taller, denser bushes.

In this habitat there are species of Capparis ovata, Salsola oppositifolia, Suaeda vera (=S. fruticosa), Atriplex halimus, Artemisia arborescens, Moricandia arvensis e Anagyris foetida.

In certain areas, like badlands or littoral  cliffs, they indicate durable stages.