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eTwinning Project – The International Year of Forests

Summary of the Information found. Amphibian:


Painted Frog

Discoglossus pictus

7cm. The only Maltese amphibian. Colour very variable: olive-green, grey, yellow or brown, sometimes reddish, with






sometimes present on the back; ventral surface always whitish. Found in localities where fresh water is present, whether flowing or stagnant. Prefers shallow pools in valleys, and water reservoirs, where it rests in the water leaving the head above the surface. In summer it lies concealed in damp places. Lays around 500 eggs in a layer held together by a gelatinous covering. Egg-mass often becomes attached to vegetation, stones or the sides or bottom of the pool. Each egg grows to a diameter of about 4mm before hatching. Young (tadpoles) have a long tail and do not resemble adult. Tadpoles spend 5-8 weeks in the water, breathing through gills. In time, lungs develop, enabling them to breathe air. Hind legs develop before forelegs. Tail shortens and eventually disappears. Diet also changes gradually from vegetable matter to insects and other small animals. Common. Reptile:

Gremxula ta’

Maltese Wall



Podarcis filfolensis

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eTwinning Project – The International Year of Forests


The Maltese Wall Lizard ( GREMXULA TA' MALTA) is about twenty eight centimetres and consists of four subspecies. Maltensis found on the islands of Malta, Gozo and Comino is generally greenish and often speckled. Filfolensis is found on Filfla and is blackish with blue or pale blue spots, it is the largest of the four races. Kieselbachi found on Selmunett islands varies in colour from brown to grey with small black spots and a yellow belly. Generalensis found on Fungus Rock is coloured reddish below with bluish flanks. Lizards feed mostly on insects, but also on fruit and vegetatble matter. When cornered by a predator, as a last resort they shed their tail. This is possible due to an anatomical arrangement whereas by the use of certain muscles a special bone breaks. Blood vessels are immediately closed by spasms and the tail falls off writhing vigorously for a few minutes. Whilst the predators attention is so occupied the lizard tries to escape. This tactic however is costly in energy requirements since it entails the loss of a store and the necessity of growing a new tail. In rare circumstances the tail is only partially broken off and a new one grows. The end result is a two tailed lizard. This is possible in all the races. Females and young lack the bright colours of the males, and are generally brownish. Male shows territorial behaviour, claiming a small patch of land and threatening other approaching males. During their threat display, the males puff themselves up, tremble and raise their heads to display the bright colours below the neck. When a female approaches, the male makes similar movements, which now serve to attract the female for eventual mating. This takes place in Spring, soon followed by the laying of 1-2 eggs in the soil or under a stone. Eggs normally hatch between June and Mid -August. Endemic to Malta and the islands of Linosa and Lampione, where a fifth subspecies occurs. A separate race probably exists on Kemmunett. Very common.

St. Ignatius College GJL Blata l-Bajda - Malta


eTwinning Project – The International Year of Forests Reptile:






(KAMALEONT) greenish







markings. Colours can turn lighter or darker. When threatened, apart from changing colour, it puffs up its body and opens its mouth wide to look larger and more fierce. Female leaves the trees in order to lay eggs in a hole dug near the base of the trunk; the eggs are then covered with soil. Adapted for life in wooded areas, but often seen in garigue habitats. Was introduced in the 19th century by protestant missionaries who used to bring specimens over from North Africa, then released in the gardens of what was later to become the Jesuit college of St Ignatius in St Julians. Has since spread to all parts of the island of Malta. Also occurs on Gozo. Frequent. Trees:

Si[ra tal-}arrub


Ceratonia siliqua

Carob is a species that has a long history of use by humans. Other names commonly used for Carob are St John's Bread and Locust. Legend has it that St John ate the pods of this species and hence the name. Evidence of the use of Carob products by humans date back to ancient Greece and Egypt where the plant was used as a source of food. The seeds from the Carob tree are extremely consistant in size and weight and are believed to have been the original guage for the 'carat' used by jewellers. The species itself is ancient having survived the last ice age and flourished throughout the Mediterranean region since. It is well adapted to

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eTwinning Project – The International Year of Forests

harsh climates and poor soils. Throughout its natural range the species has been widely cultivated because of its reliability as a food and fuel resource even during times of drought. Description: The carob tree is a slow growing, medium sized evergreen tree originating in the eastern Mediterranean. It is a member of the Legume (Pea) family and is the only member of the genus Ceratonia. It is a xerophilous scleophphyllous species well suited to dry infertile environments. The species is trioecious with male, female and hermaphrodite inflorescences and is often multi stemmed growing up to 15 meters in height. The production of fruit begins around the age of 15 and continues for the life of the plant. The leaves are broad, dark green and offering substantial shade. The pods are long and leathery often growing up to 300mm long.


Si[ra tar-Ri`nu

Castor Oil Tree

Ricinus communis

Habitat disturbed ground Small tree with large palmate leaves. Flowers in large, terminal bunches with male flowers below female ones. Following pollination, a round, spiny fruit is formed, which splits into three to expose large smooth seeds with a marbled pattern. Flowers virtually all the year round. Grows chiefly in disturbed habitats, but also invades valley bottoms, especially if they hold water. An African native which was introduced as a medicinal and ornamental species. Seed is poisonous. Can harm natural habitats by smothering native plants. Common.

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eTwinning Project – The International Year of Forests Trees:

Bajtar tax-Xewk

Prickly Pear

Opuntia ficusindica

An evergreen Perennial growing to 5m by 5m It is hardy to zone 9 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf all year, in flower from June to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects. The plant prefers light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires dry soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.


Si[ra ta\-|ebbu[ Olive

Olea europaea

The olive is an evergreen tree growing to 50 ft. in height with a spread of about 30 ft. The tree can be kept to about 20 ft. with regular pruning. The olive's feathershaped





another. Their skin is rich in tannin, giving the mature leaf its gray-green appearance. The leaves are replaced every two or three years, leaf-fall usually occurring at the same time new growth appears in the spring. Flowers: The small, fragrant, cream-colored olive flowers are largely hidden by the evergreen leaves and grow on a long stem arising from the leaf axils. The olive produces two kinds of flowers: a perfect flower containing both male and female parts, and a staminate flower with stamens only. The flowers are largely wind pollinated with most olive varieties being self-pollinating, although fruit set is usually improved by cross pollination with other varieties. There are

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eTwinning Project – The International Year of Forests

self-incompatible varieties that do not set fruit without other varieties nearby, and there are varieties that

are incompatible with certain others.

Incompatibility can also occur for environmental reasons such as high temperatures. Fruit: The olive fruit is a green drupe, becoming generally blackish-purple when fully ripe. A few varieties are green when ripe and some turn a shade of copper brown. The cultivars vary considerably in size, shape, oil-content and flavour. The shapes range from almost round to oval or elongated with pointed ends. The trees reach bearing age in about 4 years.


Si[ra ta\-|nuber

Aleppo Pine

Pinus halepensis

The Aleppo Pine (Pinus halepensis) is a pine native to the Mediterranean region.

P. halepensis cones It is a small to medium-size tree, reaching 15-25 m tall and with a trunk diameter of up to 60 cm, exceptionally 1 m. The bark is orange-red, thick and deeply fissured at the base of the trunk, and thin and flaky in the upper crown. The leaves ('needles') are in pairs, very slender, mostly 6-10 cm long, and distinctly yellowish green. The cones are narrow conic, 5-10 cm long and 2-3 cm broad at the base when closed, green at first, ripening glossy red-brown when 24 months old. They open slowly over the next few years, or after being heated by a forest fire, to release the seeds, opening to 5-8 cm broad. The seeds are 5-6 mm long, with a 20 mm wing, and are wind-dispersed.

St. Ignatius College GJL Blata l-Bajda - Malta


eTwinning Project – The International Year of Forests Trees:

Si[ra ta’ l-



Tetraclinis articulata

Habitat: Mostly Mediterranean maquis, a type of community characterised by small evergreen trees like carob and olive, but is also capable of colonising and growing on rocky slopes. Height and shape: It is an evergreen tree reaching a height of about 15m with a reddish-brown scented trunk. If it grows in rock fissures and rocky slopes it never attains such heights and may grow up to









Cultural Importance: Some Maltese localities bear names related to the tree, as for example San Gwann tal-Gharghar, a locality located in what is nowadays better known as San Gwann. Other localities which were classically stated to bear their names form the tree (like Gharghur) are more probably derived from the local name Girgor. Trees:

Si[ra tal-Luq

White Poplar

Populus alba

White poplar can grow to 50 feet (15.3 meters) tall and has white-grayish bark. Young twigs and terminal buds are woolly. The leaves are white and woolly on the underside. Leaves on larger shoots tend to be palmately 3-7 lobed and, on shorter shoots, tend to be ovoid or irregularly dentate. White poplar is dioecious, that is, staminate and pistillate flowers occur on different trees. The

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eTwinning Project – The International Year of Forests

seeds produced are minute and have silky hairs. No female trees are known to










White poplar grows in open sunny habitats. It will grow in most soil types and under varied conditions.


Si[ra tal-Ballut

Evergreen Oak

Quercus ilex

Evergreen Oak, is a large evergreen oak native to the Mediterranean region. It is a member of the white oak section of the genus, with acorns that mature in a single summer. It is a medium-size tree to 20-27 m tall with finely square-fissured blackish bark and leathery evergreen leaves. The old leaves fall 1-2 years after new leaves emerge. The leaves are dark green above, and pale whitish-grey with dense short hairs below. The leaf shape is variable, the adult leaves are entire, 4-8 cm long and 1-3 cm broad, while those on the lower branches of young trees are often larger (to 10 cm long), and are toothed or somewhat spiny. This is presumed to be for protection from grazing animals. The name ilex is originally the classical Latin name for the Holm Oak, but was later also used as a botanical genus name for the hollies. The flowers are catkins, produced in the spring; the fruit is an acorn, which matures in about 6 months. Trees:

Si[ra tat-Tin


Ficus carica

The fig is a tree of small dimensions, 10 to 30 ft (3-9 m) high, with numerous spreading branches and a trunk rarely more than 7 in (17.5 cm) in diameter. It contains copious milky latex. The root system is typically





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eTwinning Project – The International Year of Forests

covering 50 ft (15 m) of ground, but in permeable soil some of the roots may descend to 20 ft (6 m). The deciduous leaves are palmate, deeply divided into 3 to 7 main lobes, these more shallowly lobed and irregularly toothed on the margins. The blade is up to 10 in (25 cm) in length and width, fairly thick, rough on the upper surface, softly hairy on the underside. What is commonly accepted as a "fruit" is technically a synconium, that is, a fleshy, hollow receptacle with a small opening at the apex partly closed by small scales. It may be obovoid, turbinate, or pear-shaped, 1 to 4 in (2.5-10 cm) long, and varies in colour from yellowish-green to coppery, bronze, or dark-purple. Tiny flowers are massed on the inside wall. In the case of the common fig discussed here, the flowers are all female and need no pollination. There are 3 other types, the ''Caprifig'' which has male and female flowers requiring visits by a tiny wasp, Blastophaga grossorum; the "Smyrna" fig, needing crosspollination by Caprifigs in order to develop normally; and the "San Pedro" fig which is intermediate, its first crop independent like the common fig, its second crop dependent on pollination. The skin of the fig is thin and tender, the fleshy wall is whitish, pale-yellow, or amber, or more or less pink, rose, red or purple; juicy and sweet when ripe, gummy with latex when unripe. Seeds may be large, medium, small or minute and range in number from 30 to 1,600 per fruit.




Capparis orientalis

Perennial. Leaves almost round, borne on numerous slender stems which curve or hang down. Flowers white with numerous violet stamens. Blooms in summer.







fortifications. Found also in garigue and maquis. The edible flower buds are pickled in vinegar. Common.

St. Ignatius College GJL Blata l-Bajda - Malta


eTwinning Project – The International Year of Forests Plants:

Buttuniera Sweet Alison Lobularia maritima

low-growing flowering plant in the family Brassicaceae, native to the Mediterranean region and Macaronesia It is an annual plant (rarely a short-lived perennial plant) growing to 10-30 cm tall. The leaves are 1-4 cm long and 3-5 mm broad, oval to lanceolate, with an entire margin. The flowers are sweet-smelling white (rarely pink or lavender), with four petals; they are produced throughout the growing season, or yearround in areas free of frost.


{ar[ir Abjad

White Mustard

Diplotaxis erucoides

Annual. Flowers white, sometimes tinged with violet, about 2cm wide. Flowers from early autumn to late spring. Seeds borne in long siliquae. Grows mainly in areas where the soil is frequently worked. Leaves are edible and can be used in salads. Very common.

St. Ignatius College GJL Blata l-Bajda - Malta


eTwinning Project – The International Year of Forests Denb il-}aruf White Mignonette Resede alba

(Reseda) is a genus of fragrant herbaceous plants native to the Mediterranean region and southwest Asia, from the Canary Islands and Iberia east to northwest India. The species include annuals, biennials and perennials, and grow to 40-130 cm tall. The leaves form a basal rosette at ground level, and then spirally arranged up the stem; they can be entire, toothed or pinnate, and range from 1-15 cm long. The flowers are produced in a slender spike, each flower small (4-6 mm diameter), white, yellow, orange, or Plants:


green, with four to six petals. The fruit is a small dry capsule containing several seeds. }axixa Ingli\a

Cape Sorrel

Oxalis pes-caprae

Habitat Disturbed Ground Herbaceous perrenial, spending summer as a bulb. Leaves trifoliate with long petioles. Blooms in winter and spring. Introduced in the 19th century, it spread from Malta to the entire Mediterranean and even up the Atlantic coast to the British Isles. The Maltese name means the English plant as its introduction coincided with the start of British rule in Malta. Grows virtually everywhere. Very Common An almost glabrous plant with perennial roots buried deep in the ground and subterranean shoots that bear small, perennial bulbils. Leaves trifoliate, green, with obcordate lealets. Flowers yellow. Cuneate petals, 2025mm. Umbellate inflorescences arising from the base on long, bare stems. Sometimes the flowers are

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eTwinning Project – The International Year of Forests


double (var. flore-pleno). Habitat: fallow cultivated fields of lowland and submontane zones. Flowers March-May."

"O. pes-caprae (soursobs, sour-grass) is a common weed with stalked leaves and many-flowered inflorescences on cylindrical stalks that grow from deeply placed tubers and bulbs. Leaflets often spotted or marked. The bright yellow flowers appear in later autumn and winter. A major weed of crops, pastures, orchards, gardens, roadsides, wasteland and disturbed native vegetation throughout the islands. May cause oxalate poisoning in sheep.

Fidloqqom Borage Borago officinalis Annual. Rough with many spinescent bristles, basal leaves oval. Flowers bright blue with a whitish centre, 20-25mm, star-shaped. Grows on fallow ground and on garigue. Highly respected by Maltese elders and used in folk medicine, its Plants:

flowers, when boiled, helped ease the wintry cough, whereas its boiled leaves, when drunk, helped relieve those with urinary problems. Thus the Maltese adage “Ghax jitfejjaq ma satax, dawwar wiccu ghall-burrax” [borago]. Common in Malta.

St. Ignatius College GJL Blata l-Bajda - Malta


eTwinning Project – The International Year of Forests Plants:


Crown Daisy

Chrysanthemum coronarium








(Chrysantemum segetum), it is slightly hairier and its dark leaves pinnately-lobed. Flower-heads 30-60mm, it is pale yellow, hence it other Maltese name Zofran, also used in Berber. Grows on cultivated or fallow ground, seashores and garigue. Suffers indiscriminately with the ‘love-me, love-me not’ (thobbni, ma thobbnix) game. Flowers from December to June. Very common in Malta. Plants:

Xewk Abjad

Boar Thistle

Galactites tomentosa

Xewk Abjad (Galactites tomentosa), boar thistle Annual, at times growing to one metre, though often less. Leaves pinnately-lobed, toothed with white veins above. Flower heads on Malta remain white, whereas those on the continent turn to purple and lilac, solitary or in branched clusters. Found on dry ground, fallow land and garigue. Flowers between April and July. Not found in the Eastern Mediterranean. Very Common.



Turtle Dove

Streptopelia turtur

26-28cm. Passage migrant. Large numbers often arrive during the night and at daybreak. Formerly more numerous. Following spring migration, some pairs attempt to breed in woodland areas, but rarely succeed. Common in spring, scarce in autumn.

St. Ignatius College GJL Blata l-Bajda - Malta


eTwinning Project – The International Year of Forests Birds:

G]asfur tal-Bejt /



G]ammiel tal-






hispaniolensis) Mediterranean

Sparrow occurs and






southern Asia. It is a 14-16 cm long sparrow closely






Sparrow, and it will interbreed with that species to produce hybrids such as the Italian Sparrow of northern Italy, which show characteristics of both species. Although, like its relative, it is found near habitation, it more often breeds in trees. It builds a closed nest. 4-8 eggs are laid. The male is similar to the House Sparrow, but has a chestnut cap, blacker back, and underparts heavily streaked with black. The female is effectively inseparable from its relative. It sometimes hybridizes with House Sparrows. This species feeds principally on seeds, like other sparrows.




Erithacus rubecula

The European Robin (Erithacus rubecula) is a small







Muscicapidae. The European Robin is a common European songbird. It is 12.5 - 14.0 cm (5.0 - 5.5 inches) long and it is known for its pugnacious behaviour despite

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eTwinning Project – The International Year of Forests

its small size. The distinctive red patch on the chest of both sexes led to its original name of redbreast. Robins have a fluting, warbling song in the breeding season. Robins often sing into the evening, and sometimes into the night. Both males and females sing during the winter, when they hold separate territories, the song then sounding more plaintive than the summer version. The female Robins move a short distance from the summer nesting territory to a nearby territory that is more suitable for winter feeding. Male Robins keep the same territory throughout the year. Robins build a neat cup nest in crevices, holes or artificial sites such as discarded kettles. When juvenile birds fly from the nests thay are all brown in colour and do not have a red breast. After 2 to 3 months out of the nest, the juvenile birds grow some reddish feathers under their chins and over a further 2 to 3 months this patch gradually extends to complete the adult appearance. Male Robins are noted for their highly aggressive territorial behaviour. They will ruthlessly attack other males that stray into their territories, and have been observed attacking other small birds without apparent provocation. Such attacks sometimes lead to fatalities, an aspect of the birds' behaviour which is at odds with its wholesome, gentle public image. Insects:


Common house

Musca domestica

fly The






common flying insect that is found throughout the world. Anatomy: Like all insects, the house fly has a body divided into three parts (head, thorax, and abdomen), a hard exoskeleton, and six jointed legs. Flies also have a

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eTwinning Project – The International Year of Forests


pair of transparent wings. The house fly can taste using its its feet and with its mouthparts. Adults are about 6 - 12.5 mm long with 13 - 15 mm wingspan. House flies are dark gray, with four dark stripes down the top of the thorax. They have sponging mouthparts (they cannot bite); house flies can only eat liquids, but they can liquefy many solid foods with their saliva. Reproduction: The complete life-cycle of a house fly takes from 10 to 21 days. On the average, 12 generations of house flies can be produced in one year. Adult females lay 120-150 tiny white eggs, usually in manure or other warm, moist, decaying organic matter. A female lives for about 2 1/2 months and can lay up to 1,000 eggs in her short life. The eggs are only about 0.04 inch (1 mm) long and hatch into white, worm-like maggots in about 12 hours. The maggots grow to be about 12.5 mm long. When they are this big, they burrow into the ground to pupate. An adult will emerge in about 5 to 6 days (in warm weather) or about a month (in cold weather).

St. Ignatius College GJL Blata l-Bajda - Malta

Studying a "forest" in Malta  

Our summary of our studies at Buskett - Malta.

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