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Rare Species of Orchids Give Life to Lesvos Petrified Forest

Lesvos forest orchids Ophrys lesbis
The jaw-dropping Ophrys lesbis orchids now growing in Lesvos’ Petrified Forest. Credit: AMNA

Due to impassioned conservation efforts in Lesvos’ Petrified Forest, a breathtaking, rare endemic orchid species named Ophrys lesbis is now flourishing. This species of orchid — which only grows on Lesvos and nearby island Chios — is a stunning addition to the forest.

Unique ophrys lesbis orchids flower in Lesvos Petrified Forest

The Petrified Forest conservation efforts have the goal of protecting the distinctive fossil remains, but the prevention of grazing in the area has had a very pleasant side-effect.

The rare ophrys lesbis orchids, which grow only there and on the island Chios, are sure to delight visitors to the area. Perfect symbols of springtime, the orchids can now be viewed by visitors and nature lovers.

According to Lesvos Petrified Forest director Nikos Zouros the forest will “allow safe access and observation of flora by park visitors via the implementation of measures to prevent grazing within the park, and protection and observation of the plant population in order to ensure the health and sustainability of this rare habitat.”

Entire fossilized tree discovered

Greece’s Museum of Natural History of the Petrified Forest of Lesvos recently announced a major discovery on the beautiful island of the eastern Aegean Sea.

The Museum said that they discovered a massive, almost completely intact fossilized tree — which is still complete with all its branches and roots.

The major archaeological discovery was made during excavation works conducted along the Kalloni-Sigri provincial road of Lesvos. The fascinating find is considered by fossil experts as an extremely rare one.

This is the first time in 25 years that such a discovery has been made.

“Fine-grained volcanic materials covered and kept the trunk, the branches, and the roots of the tree intact,” Zouros explained, speaking with AMNA.

The Museum of Natural History of the Petrified Forest is one of the island’s many cultural gems. It is a center for the study, management, and preservation of the petrified forest of Lesvos and for public education about the site. The museum is also a founding member of the European Geoparks Network and a member of UNESCO’s Global Geoparks Network.

Lesvos forest one of many Greek world heritage sights

In 2014, it was placed on UNESCO’s world heritage list of cultural and natural landmarks.

Zouros referred to some of the seventeen other Greek monuments that have been included in the World Heritage Sites, including the Acropolis of Athens, Meteora, Olympia, and the royal tombs of Vergina.

The Petrified Forest is a unique monument on an international level and is very deserving of its place on the list. In the past, it has drawn geoscience students from all over the world as a fascinating and unique phenomenon to study.

Zouros referred in detail to the protection and promotion of history of the site, where the geological evolution of the Aegean Sea over the last 30 million years is recorded.

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