A phytosociological analysis of the Olea europaea L. var. sylvestris (Mill.) Lehr. forests in Sicily
This paper presents a phytosociological study on the forest vegetation of Olea europaea var. sylvestris of Sicily and of the smaller minor islands. In Sicily, Oleaster formations show considerable climacic potentiality in the bioclimactic belts between the infra- and the thermomediterranean with single edapho-climacic penetrations that are also in the mesomediterranean; however, these were largely destroyed by man in order to make room for crops. Furthermore, the residual expressions of the Oleaster forests are limited, and often exist as regenerated woodland made possible by the abandonment of agricultural land; they are often small forest nuclei – high maquis, woods and micro-woods – with a more or less discontinuous distribution within the agricultural landscape. The fieldwork is supported by 120 phytosociological surveys carried out in various areas of Sicily, which were statistically analyzed and compared with other published data from surveys of other communities that have been described for the Tyrrhenian (Sardinia and Corsica) and Balearic Islands up until now. The phytosociological and statistical analysis has led to the description of three new associations two of which are classified in the Oleo-Ceratonion alliance (Ruto chalepensis-Oleetum sylvestris and Chamaeropo humilis-Oleetum sylvestris), the third in the Erico-Quercion ilicis alliance (Calicotomo infestae-Oleetum sylvestris).