Endemic and rare species
Plants that tell a story
Situated at the end of the Alpine chain and subject to the mitigating influence of the marine climate, the Maritime Alps were only marginally affected by the ice sheet that covered the Alps several times during the Quaternary period. Many plant species have thus managed to survive the glaciations by "taking refuge" in these mountains.
After the glaciations, in the changed environmental conditions of the post-glacial period and in the face of fierce competition from species that had differentiated in the meantime, some species have not been able to regain the lost ground and have remained confined in Maritime, where we still find them today.
These species are endemic, i.e. they grow exclusively in the territory of the Park. "Endemic" is not necessarily synonymous with "rare": for a species to be endemic it must be linked to a limited area, while there are botanical rarities that have a very wide distribution. On the contrary, if the distribution range of the endemic species is very small, we talk about restricted endemism.
Restricted endemisms are living, precious witnesses of past eras that tell us the history of the climate in remote times. It is essential to protect them because their disappearance from an area would coincide with the extinction of the species from the face of the planet.
Then there are endemic species that have a wider range of distribution: their presence distributed in " islands " on a given territory provides us with valuable information about the evolution of the plant cover during the changes caused by geological and climatic events. The Alpi Marittime Nature Park area has ten restricted endemic species and about fifty species with a wider distribution.