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Macchie (tightly closed stands on the left front and in the valley) and Garigue (loose bushes on the opposite slope) on Corsica

The maquis ? / i ( Italian macchia , Corsican machja , Croatian makija , French maquis ), also macchia or maquis , is a secondary, anthropogenic , evergreen bush formation of the Mediterranean hard-leaf vegetation zone . Audio file / audio sample


Mediterranean maquis near Fondachelli-Fantina , Sicily

The vegetation of the maquis is characteristic of areas with a Mediterranean climate . This occurs in an interrupted belt in corresponding latitudes around the earth on the rainier west side of the continents. The temperate subtropical climate is characterized by relatively abundant winter rains, summer droughts and the absence of night frosts throughout the year. Very low-precipitation or continental climatic regions are avoided. The corresponding biome of the Mediterranean vegetation occurs in addition to the Mediterranean region itself in four other areas of the world (California, Central Chile, South Africa, Southwest Australia). In these regions there are bush formations that are physiognomically very similar to the maquis and ecologically correspond, although they do not have a single plant species in common ( convergent evolution ). The vegetation corresponding to the maquis is called chaparral in America (also matorral in Spanish-speaking countries) and fynbos in South Africa .


The maquis emerged from forests that were overexploited by humans and their grazing cattle. Thousands of years of excessive human use (burning, grazing, wood removal) led to the degradation of the large, hard-leaved oak forests, which normally dominate the landscape, to a three to five meter high bush forest similar to the coppice. In the Mediterranean area, the tall and closed holm oak forest , which used to be characteristic of the region, has melted into tiny, mostly partially degraded relics. The natural forest vegetation has to be developed from relics and degeneration stages. The scrub vegetation has saved most of the plant species involved from extinction and can regenerate into forest.


Closed maquis are characterized by the dense bushes with their intertwined branches and the interwoven thorn or prickly reinforced lianas, which are difficult for humans and larger mammals to cross. The strong shading by the evergreen leaves means that the undergrowth has only a sparse and species-poor herb layer. The intensive grazing of the maquis and the associated soil erosion result in further stages of degeneration, rich in species, low-growing rock heaths . These types of vegetation are named differently, Garigue in France, Phrygana in Greece, Tomillares in Spain. Macchia and rock heather often alternate and merge.

Use by humans

The main farm animal of the maquis is the domestic goat , whose feed content can consist of 60 percent or more of leaves and branches. Sheep and pigs are far less at home in the maquis. When using pasture, the maquis was and is periodically burned down to allow grazing animals to access the pasture and to improve their forage. Today this is forbidden in all Mediterranean countries, but is still practiced in many cases. After a fire, the maquis can regenerate itself in a few years if there are no other degrading influences.

Macchia vegetation can be very extensive in parts of the Mediterranean, especially on the islands. More than half of Corsica is covered by maquis. The maquis is extremely endangered by bush fires . After such a damaging fire , however, the same plant community grows again within a few years (an example from Turkey and Sardinia). If the maquis is burned too often, it can no longer regenerate completely. Macchia vegetation, which is characterized by frequent fire, is noticeable due to the receding of the sclerophyllous evergreen tree and shrub species, especially in favor of the rockrose ( Cistus spp.). The evergreen, one to three meter high bushes are sometimes so dense that no herbaceous layer is formed underneath (similar to the hedges in Central Europe). As a rule, exposed areas with low vegetation are broken in like a mosaic.

Types of vegetation

Corresponding to its wide geographical and ecological amplitude, the maquis vegetation is different in different regions, depending on the geological subsoil, local climate and history of use. The species of the original forest formations form the basis of species everywhere. The scrub vegetation differs from the forest mainly in its lower growth height, but under favorable circumstances all types of hardwood forests can in principle also survive in the scrub. In terms of vegetation, the maquis and the high forests of the hard- leaf zone are therefore grouped together in the same vegetation class (the holm oak forests, Quercetea ilicis ). The holm oak ( Quercus ilex ) itself is regularly involved in the scrub vegetation in bush form, provided it is not too badly degraded. Other oak species, especially the more heat-loving , predominantly Eastern Mediterranean widespread Kermes oak ( Quercus coccifera ) can even survive as spherical dwarf bushes into the rocky heaths. Other widespread species are turpentine pistachio ( Pistacia terebinthus ), broad-leaved stone linden ( Phillyrea latifolia ), evergreen buckthorn ( Rhamnus alaternus ) and the creeping species of pointed-leaved asparagus ( Asparagus acutifolius ) and rough wind ( Smilax aspera ). Near the coast, the conspicuous tree spurge ( Euphorbia dendroides ) forms its own aspects.

The holm oak can fall out in particularly warm and dry locations, also mostly in the direct vicinity of the sea. Characteristic here are the wild forms of the olive tree ( Olea europaea var. Sylvestris ), the carob tree ( Ceratonia siliqua ), the mastic bush ( Pistacia lentiscus ), the germander bush ( Teucrium fruticans ) and others. Tree heather ( Erica arborea ), crested lavender ( Lavandula stoechas ), sage-leaved rockrose ( Cistus salviifolius ) and gorse ( Genista spp. ) Are typical of macchia in locations with little base . Lime-rich locations prefer e.g. B. Myrtle ( Myrtus communis ) and the eastern strawberry tree ( Arbutus andrachne ), which is only widespread in the East Mediterranean .


  • Salvatore Brullo, Lorenzo Gianuzzi, Antonio la Mantia, Giuseppe Siracusa: La classe Quercetea ilicis in Sicilia. In: Bollettino dell'Accademia Gioenia di Catania. Volume 41, No. 369, 2008, pp. 1–124 ( PDF file ).
  • R. Di Castri, DW Goodall , RL Specht: Mediterranean type shrublands (Ecosystems of the World 11). Elsevier SPC, Amsterdam, Oxford, New York 1981, ISBN 0-444-41858-X .
  • Emilia Poli Marchese, Lidia Di Benedetto, Giuseppe Maugeri: Successional Pathways of Mediterranean Evergreen Vegetation on Sicily. In: Vegetatio. Volume 77, No. 1-3, 1988, pp. 185-191, doi: 10.1007 / BF00045764 .
  • Richard Pott : General Geobotany. Biogeosystems and biodiversity (=  Springer textbook ). Springer, Berlin / Heidelberg / New York 2005, ISBN 3-540-23058-0 .

Web links

Commons : Macchie  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Macchie  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Ralf Jahn, Peter Schönfelder: Excursion flora for Crete . With contributions by Alfred Mayer and Martin Scheuerer. Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart (Hohenheim) 1995, ISBN 3-8001-3478-0 , p. 16 .
  2. Necattin Türkmen, Atabay Düzenli: Changes in floristic composition of Quercus coccifera macchia after fire in the Çukurova region (Turkey). In: Annales Botanici Fennici. Volume 42, No. 6, 2005, pp. 453-460. ( PDF file ).
  3. Ignazio Camarda, Giuseppe Brundu, Vincenzo Satta: Fire in Mediterranean Macchia: a Case of Study in Southwest Sardinia. In: General technical report. PSW-GTR-208, 2004, pp. 545-548 ( PDF file ).