PGG Study Tour of the Algarve – Ria Formosa

This is another post about the time I spent in Portugal earlier this year. To read the first post in this series please click here.

After Rosie let us see her garden she then took us to see a famous salt marsh plant community,  Ria Formosa, which was classified as a Natural Park in 1987. It encompasses an area of about 45,000 acres and is protected from the sea by five barrier-islands and two peninsulas. It extends from Anção, near Almancil, eastwards as far as Vila Real de Santo Antonio – covering some 60 kilometres of the eastern Algarve Coast.

View of the salt marshes

View of the salt marshes

Bridge across the salt marshes

Bridge over the salt marshes

Beautiful poolThe Ria Formosa Natural Park is one of the most amazing places of the Algarve, not only for its variety of landscapes but also because of its unique location. Recently elected as one of the 7 Natural Wonders of Portugal, it is a unique coastal lagoon which is constantly changing due to the continuous movement of winds, currents and tides.

Due to these natural features and its geographical location it was included in the list of wetlands of world-wide interest defined by the Ramsar Convention. It’s considered an Important Bird Area (IBA) and is part of the Natura 2000 Network.

Tamarix africana

Tamarix africana


Close-up of Tamarix africanaThe difference in variety of flora compared to other places we had visited was huge. I loved the huge Tamarix africana swaying in the sea breeze, it looked like sticks of candyfloss! The combination of Vicia sativa growing alongside Lupinus micranthus gave a beautiful effect spreading across the ground.

A plant which was hard to spot was Dipcadi serotinum, the brown bluebell. Its rust-coloured flowers camouflage seamlessly with the surrounding vegetation, a total contrast to the purple bluebells in the UK.

Faro docks in the distance

Faro docks in the distance

Pinus sylvestris

Pinus sylvestris

One of the sand trails

One of the sand trailsArmeria pungens with Lavandula stoechas subsp. stoechas was another marriage made in heaven. An interesting plant we came across was x Halimiocistus sahucii which are hybrids between Cistus and Halimium.

Euphorbia terracina is commonly found on open coastal habitats, a hairless euphorbia with umbels of green bracts. The shape of the stone pines, Pinus pinea, was a superb backdrop against the sandy trails and blue skies.

Lavandula stoechas subsp. stoechas

Lavandula stoechas subsp. stoechas

Pinus pinea

Pinus pineaSpartium junceum, the Spanish broom, were covered in vivid yellow flowers. This is similar to Genista hirsuta but has no spines.

Having a taste of plant life on the coast whetted our appetites for our planned visit to Cape St. Vincent at the end of the week – watch this space. . .

Lupinus micranthus

Lupinus micranthus


Close-up of Lupinus micranthus

Plants noted:

  • Anagallis monelli
  • Armeria pungens
  • Arthrocnemum perenne
  • Astragalus tragacantha subsp. vicentinus
  • Atriplex halimus
  • Carpobrotus edulis
  • Dipcadi serotinum
  • Euphorbia terracina
  • x Halimiocistus sahucii
  • Lavandula stoechas subsp. stoechas
  • Limoniastrum monopetalum
  • Lupinus micranthus
  • Matthiola parviflora
  • Muscari comosum
  • Narcissus bulbocodium
  • Ophrys bombyliflora
  • Paronychia argentea
  • Pinus pinea
  • Pinus sylvestris
  • Retama monosperma
  • Salicornia europaea
  • Scilla monophyllos
  • Silene littorea
  • Spartium junceum
  • Tamarix africana
  • Vicia sativa



6 thoughts on “PGG Study Tour of the Algarve – Ria Formosa

  1. Imagine a floral arrangement of those brown bells with your native bluebells? I think they would be rather stunning.
    When you get near the sea you always have me. Our marshes are filled with flamingo until next April. It is their nursery. 🙂 xx

    Liked by 1 person

What are your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s