Mount Quacella Holm Oak Wood in the Madonie Park

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)

Mount Quacella is located within the mountainous area of the Madonie, a 99.000-acre Natural Park created in 1989; this area features a naturalistic, historical and artistic heritage of remarkable importance, with an impressive mountain range overlooking the sea.
Mount Quacella rises north of Vallone degli Angeli, a well-known area which includes most of the 30 local specimens of Abies nebrodensis, unique in the world and growing only here. Like all the Madonie Mountains, this part of the Park is also characterized by peaks, pinnacles and gullies which stretch in a semicircle from Mount Mùfara to Mount Quacella – they form a natural amphitheatre surrounded by landscapes and natural habitats reminiscent of the Alps.
Incidentally, a renowned botanist from Palermo, Michele Lojacono Pojero, named them “the Sicilian Alps”.

The local climate features strong wind and cold winters, with a remarkable temperature range between day and night, as well as no rain during the summer. All the plants growing here have, therefore, well adapted to such a hostile environment over the years.
There are species of small size but with strong and well-developed roots, which allow them to withstand the wind and dig deep into the cliff soils. There are few tree species here, including beeches that can be found along the scree; on Mount Mùfara, an extensive beech forest has even managed to adapt and thrive.

On the southern slope of Mount Quacella, there’s a thick holm oak forest, made of several specimens of Quercus ilex (holm oak) and Mediterranean oaks; in other environments, they don’t usually grow at altitudes exceeding 3.280 ft, but here they can be found up to 1.859 ft. Other plant species actually grow on these slopes, although they seem bare at first glance. Among the endemic ones, there’s Astracantha nebrodensis, a bushy plant with a creeping habit, featuring spiny ash-grey leaves at its apex.

Another endemic thorny bush is /Genista cupanii, which grows beautiful yellow flowers in the spring. There are also Jurinea bocconei (Guss.) DC. and Alyssum nebrodense – they’re both endemic and stand out among the stones with their beautiful coloured flowers (respectively purple and yellow).

Not to mention Stipa sicula Moraldo et al., a typical local grass species with long, feathery and supple appendixes, Sideritis syriaca, ,
Saponaria sicula Raf.
(with slightly sticky leaves and small pink flowers in late spring), and Iris pseudopumila (with purple or yellow flowers).

This area of the Madonie Park, on Mount Quacella, is very popular also when it comes to orchids, such as Moth orchids, Neotinea tridentata Scopoli (Scop.) R.M. Bateman, Pridgeon & M.W. Chase, Sicilian orchids, Orchis italica, Orchis quadripunctata, Ophrys lutea, and Ophrys fusca subsp. caesiella (P. Delforge) Kreutz.
It’s a true botanical garden where nature never fails to put up a wondrous show, especially in spring, when plants offer their very best, thus making the surrounding landscape truly unforgettable.

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)


90027 Petralia Sottana (PA)

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