Wildlife and Flora found at St. Michael Senior School

Vagrant Hedgehog
Erinaceus algirus
(QANFUD) 20-25cm (+ tail 2.5 – 4cm). Head with pointed snout, small round ears and a body-covering of rigid, spiny hairs parted over the head. Acute sense of hearing and smell. Nocturnal. Feeds on snails, slugs, insects, worms and small vertebrates such as frogs and lizards. Does not hibernate, but not active at temperatures below 20 degrees Celsius. Gestation lasts just over a month. Litter of 2-4 young between May and October. Common.

Hedgehog

Juvenile Hedgehog. Resident of our lettuce patch.

Hedgehogs are docile mammals

Mediterranean Chameleon
30cm long, normally greenish or brown with paler markings. Colours can turn lighter or darker. When threatened, apart from changing colour, it puffs up its body and opens its mouth wide to look larger and fiercer.
Female leaves the trees in order to lay eggs in a hole dug near the base of a trunk, the eggs are then covered with soil.
Adapted for life in wooded areas, but often seen in garigue habitats. Was introduced in the 19th century by protestant missionaries who used to bring specimens over the North Africa, and then released in the gardens of what was later to become the Jesuit collage of St.Ignatius in St.Julians. Has since spread to all parts of the island of Malta. Also occurs on Gozo. Frequent.

Chameleon - This one found in Buskett

Widnet Il-Bahar
Maltese name: Known as Widnet il-Bahar.
The translation of this name is Sea Scorpiurus, and is derived from the Semitic words widna (ear, but in Maltese also the name of scorpiurus plants) and bahar (sea).
Scientific name: Palaeocyanus crassifolius (Bertoloni) Dostál
General Distribution: This plant is endemic to the Maltese Islands, being found only in Malta and Gozo in the world.
Status in the Maltese Islands: It is rare with a restricted distribution in the Maltese Islands, being localised to the southern and western cliffs of Malta and the south-western cliffs of Gozo. With respect to population number, no precise counts were ever made, however, the total population is estimated to be of several thousand individuals.
Habitat:Mostly seaside coralline limestone cliffs and screes, where it grows with other Maltese endemic plants.
Height and shape: An evergreen shrubby plant with fleshy leaves shaped like a spoon-handle usually growing up to 50 cm. The leaves do not usually have a toothed margin (called serrations) but some plants, especially in Gozo, may show such serrations. By the end of May it starts to open its beautiful magenta coloured flower-heads which are borne on long stalks. Flowering continues till July.

Widnet il-Bahar Shrub

Widnet il-Bahar flower

Gharghar
English name:
Araar Tree
It is called by various other names, including: Sandarac Gum Tree; Barbary Arbor-Vitae; Alerce; Mediterranean Alerce; Citron-Wood Tree; and African Juniper.
Maltese name:
Known as Gharghar or Sigra tal-Gharghar.
The origin of this name is Semitic, derived from the Arabic word ‘ar’ar.
Scientific name:
Tetraclinis articulata (Vahl) Masters
General Distribution: This tree is confined to the island of Malta and the region of Murcia in Spain (in a small locality near Cartagena) in Europe. Nonetheless, it is widespread in North Africa (Morocco, Algeria & Tunisia, and reported from Libya).
Status in the Maltese Islands: In the wild, the tree is found only on the island of Malta, being completely absent from Gozo, Comino and the minor islets. It is very rare, with some 100 trees still surviving in the wild, most of which occur in Northern Malta.
Used to occur in various other areas, like Eastern Malta, localities from which it disappeared centuries to decades ago.
Habitat: Mostly Mediterranean maquis, a type of community characterised by small evergreen trees like carob and olive, but is also capable of colonising and growing on rocky slopes.
Height and shape: It is an evergreen tree reaching a height of about 15m with a reddish-brown scented trunk. If it grows in rock fissures and rocky slopes it never attains such heights and may grow up to 5m in height. The tree bear characteristic cones

GharGhar Tree

This entry was posted in Senior School. Bookmark the permalink.