Flora

Estonia is traversed by the border-line between the East- and Middle-European biogeographic provinces, which is reflected in the composition of the flora by the fact that 538 species or subspecies of vascular plants (35% of the total number of taxa) reach the border of their distribution area here. The majority of such species reach their area’s northern, north-eastern or eastern border in Estonia (for instance the meadow sword lily, the Siberian iris, the short-spurred fragrant orchid, the long-leaved and red helleborines, the ivy, and the blackthorn), which provides evidence of the fact that most of Estonia’s flora originates in Europe. However, there are also species that grow on the western, northwestern or southern border of their area here (e.g. the blunt-leaved sandwort, the Siberian iris, the Arctic bramble).

Species that reach the border of their distribution area in Estonia have spread into the country during different climatic periods and are thus regarded as relics of the relevant periods. Several plant species, that are unique to the country, have developed here and cannot be found elsewhere in the world. Well-known among these is the Saaremaa yellow rattle and the lesser-known the Estonian saw-wort. Altogether, 83 endemic taxa have been identified in Estonia, most of them being small species of the hawkweed genus. The indigenous flora has been gradually supplemented by many species whose spreading is facilitated by human activity. As a result of, in particular, agricultural activities and transport of goods, numerous weed species have spread here as late adventives, while several meadow plants (such as the tall buttercup, the tufted hair grass and the ox-eyed daisy) settled in Estonia much earlier. Of lower plants, more than 2500 species of algae and 680 species of lichens have been found in Estonia. According to the latest data, 1441 species of vascular plants are represented in the flora of Estonia. Including subspecies, the total number reaches 1538.

Details about this article