January 1, 2010
What is Mediterranean Climate?
The Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub biome can be found around the world. Regions of Mediterranean type climate occur roughly between 30° and 40° latitude on the west coasts of continents, where there are cold ocean currents offshore.
The Mediterranean climate is unique in that the wet season coincides with the low sun or winter period. Summers are dry. Total annual precipitation ranges between 15 and 40 inches per year. Temperatures are those of the subtropics moderated by maritime influence and fogs associated with the cold ocean currents. The result is a very limited, but predictable, growing season when there is both sufficient soil moisture and adequately warm temperatures. Many plants are adapted to withstand drought.
The lands around the Mediterranean Sea form the largest area where this climate type is found, but it also prevails in much of California, in parts of Western and South Australia, in southwestern South Africa, sections of Central Asia, and in parts of central coastal Chile.
The Mediterranean proper including Europe, North Africa, and Asia Minor around the Mediterranean has the largest collection of Mediterranean flora.
The chaparral, from the Spanish chapa or scrub oak, of southern California consists of two plant associations, the coastal sage and the foothills chaparral. The former is indicated by the presence of “soft” shrubs such as true sage, Salvia species. California's Mediterranean region is restricted more or less to coastal areas by the surrounding mountain ranges.
In Chile, the matorral, from the Spanish mata for shrub is confined to the coast by high mountains. The flora consists of many more deciduous species than are found in California's chaparral and many species also have thorns.
The fynbos of the Cape region of South Africa displays a high degree of diversity in each family represented in the flora. Perennial forbs, or herbaceous flowering plants such as amaryllis and gladiolus are found in the fynbos, as are the succulent aloes.
The mallee scrub vegetation of subtropical Australia is dominated by pungent, evergreen shrubs of the genus Eucalyptus, close relatives of Australian forest species. The mallee scrub occurs in two regions of southern Australia separated by the arid Nullarbor Plain.
Read more about Mediterranean Climate
Mediterranean Climate Maps by Pacific Bulb Society