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Holly forests, alpine laurel forests

Singular places

, Siles

In woods where holly (Ilex aquifolium) is the predominating tree or bush, the trees stand so close together that there is no undergrowth. To find a forest like this one in Andalusia, in southern Spain, is a luxury. Holly forests can be found in the centre and north of the country, and the ones here in the south are a gem. The little trees arrived here thousands of years ago, pushed southward by the icy cold of the last glacial period.

As the ice retreated, holly migrated in the opposite direction, recovering lost territory to the north. Thus it can be said that Spanish holly is the ancestor of all the holly in Europe. When you stroll through these woods, bear in mind that the trees are waiting for the next glaciation, when they will populate Europe with holly once again, after the ice retreats.

This forest is accompanied by a canopy of Corsican pines and a bed of ferns (Pterydium aqulininum) and grass species (Dactylis glomerata, Poa nemoralis, Festuca nevadensis, Brachypodium sylvaticum, Viola kitaibeliana, Bellis perennis, Sanicula europaea), as well as other well-known plants such as wild strawberries (Fragaria vesca), angular solomon’s-seal (Polygonatum odoratum), rock thyme (Acinos alpinus) and greater plantain (Plantago major, P. media).


Take the road that heads towards Acebeas, one kilometre outside of Siles. Follow it until you come to a wide crossroad on your right, where there is a barrier and a sign announcing the public path to Navalperal. You will only have to walk 500 metres to come to the forestry house in Acebeas. The path is flanked on both sides by a splendid forest of holly and hazel.

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