Parco delle Querce

Nature reserve

BOSCO DELLE PIANELLE NATURAL RESERVE

The Parco delle Querce is inserted in a unique naturalistic context. It starts from the hills between Mottola and Martina Franca, descending rapidly towards the plain of Massafra, passing from 460 meters above sea level to the Gulf of Taranto, offering paths, caves, glimpses, a flora and fauna that is rich and at times typical and unique for the area.

The highest part of the wood is mainly made up of holm oak trees (Quercus ilex), in association with different species including the ornella, the viburnum, the strawberry tree, the mastic tree, the phillyrea, the alaterno, the terebinth and the butcher’s broom. The Mediterranean scrub is enriched by the presence of wild olive, spiny broom, almond pear, red cistus, Montpellier cistus, female cistus, daphne gnidium, sage triloba, the latter species of Balkan origin. In the Reserve it is possible to identify a real hornbeam wood, characterized by the eastern hornbeam (present only in this area of Italy) and by the black hornbeam associated with the holm oak, where, thanks to cooler temperatures and considerable humidity, they develop carpets of moss and lichen.

As the altitude degrades towards the plain it is replaced by the Fragno, which rarely forms woods. More generally, downy oak is associated with fragno. The fragno, oak with semi-caducous leaves, has a Balkan origin and reached Italy by expansion during the last ice age. The presence of the species in the Italian peninsula is limited to the south-eastern Murgia and in the neighboring province of Matera. In the forest of fragno, in addition to the aforementioned downy oak, there are the priest’s hat, the hawthorn, the blackthorn, the honeysuckle, the common medlar, the dog rose, the St. John’s rose, the bramble, the coronilla, the butcher’s broom and the asparagus. There are several herbaceous plants such as violet, wild geranium, wild saffron, yellow saffron, Liburnian asphodel, lesser pearl grass and the rare male peony.

Note the orchids as at least 30 species are known for the Bosco delle Pianelle. The site assumes considerable importance because it hosts, due to the microclimatic peculiarities of some slopes, sciaphilous species, present in the Taranto area, only here or in very rare other places with similar characteristics.

The fauna instead features medium-sized mammals, but above all reptiles and birds of particular importance. In fact, the ornithic community of the “Bosco delle Pianelle” Regional Reserve is rich and interesting from a conservation point of view as the area is characterized by a high environmental diversity. It is in close continuity with the area of the ravines of Taranto and is scarcely disturbed by human activities. 108 species of birds are known for the protected area. The Bosco delle Pianelle is home to various species of birds of prey in particular related to the forest environment such as buzzard Buteo buteo, sparrow hawk Accipiter nisus and biancone Circaetus gallicus, and which use the open areas for trophic activity, as well as being an ideal refuge for numerous species of Passerines, both in migration and in winter.

For more information and guided tours in the reserve click here.