The vegetation landscape and the altitudinal distribution
The distribution of the variety of species included in the flora of Etna, suffers of the peculiarities of a completely selective and differential landscape, due to the pedoclimatic conditions, limiting the presence of the single vegetable entities only when certain environmental factors verify (temperature, wetness, light and wind) variable and dependant on the different altitudinal conditions.
Piero Bladense, found an epigraph reported on the Aponiensi baths referring to the life that keeps going and it is affirmed on the slopes of Etna: "Who would think that this land is sterile?
Still steaming pastures flourished again, returns fertile the burnt flint, while the hard stones melt in the fire, lush grass grows green braving the flames ".
It is sufficient to stop by and analise the various environmental factors peculiar to Etna in order to discern certain types of flora and vegetation in the area.
So that, the floral parades, much more varied in the disappeared wetlands of the area, with a prevalence of igrofite vegetation, we pass (through the intermediate category of mesophyte entities), to ever poorer floral compositions and to examples of calcareous grasslands vegetation types when the conditions of drought and harsh winter determine more and more the colonization of the slopes of the volcano until the altitudinal limit of vegetation.
This can be distinguished, according to altitudinal belts, in strips or belts of vegetation, which appear to be classified according to an obvious reference to the different environmental conditions.
We refer then to a zoning, which for the Etna area vegetation can be distinguished as it follows: Mediterranean basal plane, in which they differ, just down the end of the plan baseline, wreckage flaps of the typical Mediterranean vegetation; upper and mountainous Mediterranean level with prevailing aspects of forest vegetation in mesophilic and thermophilic character, affecting particularly the band of the mountain level; upper-Mediterranean plan, clearly differentiated by the dominance of a typical xerophila vegetation of the Mediterranean high mountain.
To this considerable heterogeneity of distributed environments according to this proposed zoning connect certain special entities that are part of the endemic Etna flora, which just for the significant natural vegetation value give the Etna landscape a complex and unique appearance to justify the old time suggested proposals aiming at a thorough preservation and rational exploitation of the territory.