Holly forests, alpine laurel forests

Holly forests, alpine laurel forests


Las Acebeas

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.

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Esparto grass badlands

Esparto grass badlands


From Ceal to Hinojares

You cannot say you really know the Nature Reserve’s vegetation until you have visited the semi-arid areas at the south end. These are harsh, treeless landscapes with an extreme climate and high temperatures. The harshness, however, is compensated by the beauty of the scenery, the variety of colours and the highly interesting vegetation in the area, which is home to many unique species.

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Hazel groves

Hazel groves


River Segura, Pontones

When we talked about the “North in the South”, we invited you to discover the hazel trees in the Las Acebeas area, but there are many other places where unique plant communities are a refuge for northern plants that grow in the south.

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Box groves

Box groves


La Bojeda, Puerto de Tíscar

The box groves are one of the most surprising plant formations in the Nature Reserve. Their presence is extraordinary for several reasons: one, because they no longer exist south of Spain and Portugal; two, because many northern species find shelter in them; three, because household utensils made of box (Buxus sempervirens) have become popular; and four, because they prevent soil erosion in riverbeds and slopes.

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Mediterranean laurel forest

Mediterranean laurel forest


River Borosa

Laurel forests are probably the most pure and best preserved forests you will find on the lower slopes of the Nature Reserve’s mountains, tucked away in ravines and unspoiled slopes where the soil is deep and rich. There are still some vestiges of the primeval laurel forests and the lower part of the Borosa river basin is one place where you can find them. A striking laurel forest with strawberry trees, barberries and laurustinus covers the basin’s slopes. The highlight of this forest is the entrance to the Cerrada de Elías canyon, where strawberry trees and barberries form a canopy over a long section of the route.

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Alpine deciduous forests

Alpine deciduous forests


Collado del Cerecino

This area is very special owing to the large variety of species that grow here. You can enjoy a walk through one of the few alpine deciduous forests that are left in the Nature Reserve.

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Deciduous forests in the valley floor

Deciduous forests in the valley floor


Paraje de Tejerina, Guadalquivir valley

Some valley floors have deep, rich soil combined with thermal inversion. Such special soil and weather conditions enable deciduous forests to grow there. The forests underwent drastic transformations owing to human activities and now they are restricted to small pockets in the Guadalquivir valley.

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Gallery forests

Gallery forests


River Segura, La Toba

You can find good examples of gallery forests growing in many places in the valleys of the Segura and Guadalquivir rivers. The one described here is in the headwaters of the Segura river as it flows past the charming village of Toba.

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Terebinth woods

Terebinth woods


Lancha de Pilatos, Borosa river

This cluster of terebinths grows around the Lancha de Pilatos, near the headwaters of the Borosa river, where the largest trees of this kind that can be found in the Nature Reserve grow.

Trees are the most popular types of plant formations but many of the mountains in this area are mostly covered in shrubs. Such is the case of terebinths, which are highly important from an ecological and scenic point of view, especially in autumn when the leaves turn almost red.

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Summits

Summits


Cumbre del Empanadas and Piedra del Cuervo Summits

The summits leave a lasting impression on the minds of visitors to the Nature Reserve. The main summits are Las Empanadas (the highest point of the Nature Reserve, at 2107 m above sea level), El Cabañas, El Blanquillo, El Yelmo, El Almorchón, Las Palomas, El Gilillo and El Rayal.

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Oak grove

Oak grove


Fuente del Roble

The aim of this itinerary is to see one of the Nature Reserve’s most spectacular oak groves, where huge oak trees grow, and a fairy-tale forest. Park your car and continue on foot, following the track for around 6 km. It is an easy climb.

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Oak groves and juniper

Oak groves and juniper


Las Navillas, Peña Gallinera

The groves of holm oak (Quercus ilex ballota) and juniper (juniperus oxicedrus) are a unique feature of these limestone mountains. Groves that comprise only holm oaks and juniper are rarely seen, because normally they include ilex, pine and patches of Mediterranean forest.

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El Hornico Botanical Garden

El Hornico Botanical Garden


Diversity and contrasting landscapes are the main characteristics of the south end of the Nature Reserve and this is particularly noticeable in the composition and structure of the plant formations that cover the territory. A short, pleasant stroll around the El Hornico Botanical Garden will show you the Nature Reserve’s forest ecosystems and the plants they are made of, from the sub-desert esparto grass badlands in the Guadiana Menor river to the alpine broom and pinewoods in the mountains, including the forests found throughout the area. At the Botanical Garden you can go from the lowlands to the highest summits in a few minutes and with little effort.

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Torre del Vinagre Botanical Garden

Torre del Vinagre Botanical Garden


This large botanical garden boasts a broad and well-kept selection of plants from the Nature Reserve, ranging from small grasses to big trees. It is the perfect place to observe and learn how to identify plants or simply to enjoy a pleasant stroll amidst lush vegetation. Your visit will help you to understand that the extraordinary botanic wealth of these mountains is one of the main reasons why they were declared a Protected Area. Admission is free.

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Hanging gardens: Rock plants

Hanging gardens: Rock plants


Poyo Sequillo and Cerrada de San Ginés

Small rock-plant formations abound in the Nature Reserve, owing to the number of rock walls there, some of which are damp and others dry.

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