Island biology


Islands, islets and cliffs of the Vis archipelago are habitats to as many as 126 bird species of which there are 11 targeted bird species within the ecological network Natura 2000, such as the characterstic open-sea species of Eleonora's falcon (Falco eleonorae), Scopoli's shearwater (Calonectris diomedea) and the Yelkouan shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan). Eleonora's falcon is of great significane since it is almost nowhere to be found in Croatia, outside of the open-sea islands. Approximately 80 to 100 pairs nest in the area of Vis, Biševo, Svetac and the surrounding smaller islands.There are 17 known species of mammals known in the Vis archipelago, of which the most significant is the bat fauna, with the total of 10 known species of which 4 are targeted within the Natura 2000 network: Schreibers' long-fingered bat (Miniopterus schreibersii), Geoffroy's bat (Myotis emarginatus), the greater horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum) and the lesser horsheshoe bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros).

The most endangered island species are the greater horseshoe bat, Geoffroy's bat and Scrheibers' long-fingered bat. Only one amphibian species was found of the island of Vis – European green toad (Bufo viridis), at only two localities. Vis archipelago is also home to 9 recorded reptile species, of which the most significant is the endemic type of karst lizards on some islets (Podarcis melisellensis var. melisellensis).Four-lined snake (Elaphe quatuorlineata), also a targeted species within the Natura 2000 network.Interestingly, there are no poisonous snakes on the island.


Until now, the total of 872 plant species were researched in the Vis island's flora, 485 of higher plant species in the flora of the island of Biševo, 383 vascular plants in the flora of the island of Svetac, 258 plant species in the flora of Palagruža's archipelago, 47 plan species on the island of Brusnik, 23 plant species on the islet of Jabuka and 24 plant species on the islet of Kamik. Among the flora of the Vis archipelago, there are 30 species targeted within the Natura 2000 network.

Econonically relevant plant species on the islands of Vis and Biševo include the grapevine, carob tree and recently also the olive tree. The island of Vis is known for its authentic grape variety Vugava,producing outstanding white wine once served to Austrian emperors at the Viennese court. An autochtonous carob variety also grows on the island – it is known as the Komiža Carob and it stands out from the other varieties in exceptional quality and bountiful crop.


Vugava, also known as Bugava, Ugava and Viškuljka, is an almost endangered species. But, it is also among the best white grape varieties in Croatia.

The origin of the sort is unknown, but, according to all available data, it does not grow anywhere else in the world and is considered the Croatian autochthonous variety. On the island of Vis, Vugava has been cultivated for centuries, as evidenced by the work "The Gosh of the scholars". Written in the 2nd century BC by Agatharid, a Greek historian and geographer from Knid, this work contains the first mention of our wines. It suggests that the Vugava was either brought to Vis during the Greek colonization of the Adriatic (IV-VI century BC) or was created during Greek rule, when the island was known as Issa.

Vugava is widespread on the island of Vis, and to a lesser extent on the neighboring islands and coastal areas. It is the most famous white grape on the island of Vis. It has high fertility, and since ancient times has had an excellent reputation. It gives wines a fullness of taste, and a fine, pleasant, and fruity aroma that often resembles a too mature fruit, sweet with freshness and longevity. Because of its early age of maturity and because of the extremely hot summers in Dalmatia, it often maintains a high percentage of alcohol. Vugava's wines are recommended to be paired with fish, shellfish, seafood salads and light, white chicken meat.

Due to its beautiful appearance and flavor, the grape was used as food. Today, however, its dessert wine is particularly appreciated, especially when it is made in the traditional Mediterranean way, which involves using sun-dried grapes. Today it is one of the most important varieties of the island of Vis.


There is a saying: "Praise every kind of grape variety, but plant Plavac mali".

The autochthonous Croatian variety Plavac mali, the most important variety, is subdivided into Middle and South Dalmatia. Plavac mali is one of the Dalmatian varieties whose populations are not endangered. The wine is the first wine with the protection of geographical origin in the Republic of Croatia.

Plavac mali stands out with qualitative potential, with a strength no less than 13.5%. The wines are very intensely colored red wines. A dark ruby color is obtained from tannins found in the leather grains of the grape. Its specificity is rich in acids and is deeply and complex with the aromas of dried plums, mature blackberry,cherry ... It has a slightly bitter and strong taste.

There are a number of factors that influance the quality of wine produced from Plavac mali. When it is planted on rough soil, maintains favorable exposure conditions, and has the necessary amount of insolation (reflection from the surface oft he sea), the top quality of wine is produced. The yield of this kind of wine is lower, but the sugar content, coloration, and aromatic grape profile oft he wine are excellent. It is also quite strong, and for these reasons this type of wine is often called „wild wine“.

This wine is served at temperature from 16-18 ° C. It is well suited to seafood, such as blue fish prepared in various ways, or meals from dark meats and venison, as well as with mature cheeses.

On the island of Biševo, 90% of vineyards raise only the Plavac mali variety. Biševo island, with a total surface area of 5.84km², and located southwest of the town of Komiža, is famous for its Blue cave, sandy beaches and Plavac mali.

The residents of the Vis archipelago are famous grape and wine producers, so with a pleasant stay in the geopark, you can also use the cellar services and taste wines from local autochthonous varieties.

CAPERS (Capparis orientalis)

Other popular names: Caper bush, Flinders rose, Spineless caper

The caper is a species of bush in the genus Capparis (family Capparaceae). It grows to a height of up to one meter, and its branches can reach up to three meters in length. The root oft he caper is an exceptionally powerful and penetrating root which not pierces not only through the land but also through the cracks of rocks and stone. On the tops of its branches, big buds grow and bloom into beautiful flowers. The bloom happens from April to September, and the fruit produced are egg-shaped caper berries. The clabber flower buds (capers) are recognized throughout the world as a specialty for fish and meat and numerous sauces are made from them.

The caper is widespread throughout the Mediterranean and is used all the way to southwestern Asia. In Croatiait is widespread from Istria to Dalmatia, but only by the sea int he warmest enviroments.

On the Plant List of the Republic of Croatia are mentioned three cultivated varieties, two of which belong to the Vis archipelago: The Palagruža or Palagruža caper and Saint Andrea, probably from the island of St. Andrew.

IMMORTELLE (Helichrysum italicum)

Other folk names: Mediterranean plants, Everlasting, Helichrysum

The immortelle is a woody and branched subshrub with numerous blossoms. It grows to 60 cm, and its leaves are greyish-green. The blossoms are golden-yellow, color which is the namesake of the genus (Greek helios-sun, chrysum-gold). It blooms from April to July. After blooming, the flowers get their characteristic brown color and fruits are being developed into a small hams.

Immortelle is an indigenous Mediterranean plant spread throughout the Mediterranean. The population of the immortelle, in Croatia has become more and more endangered because of excessive and uncontrolled harvesting.

A large population of immortelle grows in Dalmatia and only the wild species is used for distillation. In addition to distillation, today the immortelle has many uses. It is used as decoration of dishes, flower arrangements, and in a smaller quantity as a supplement to salads. It is also used in apothecary, since it is excellent as an essential oil. Other various uses span the fields of medicine (it is an antipyretic – as wound healing), botany (as a fungicide), the food industry (bakery products, sweets, ice cream), and in the pharmaceutical industry (especially for the creams and perfumes).

LAVANDULA (Lavandula xhibrida)

Other names: Lavender, Lavandin

Lavandula (known by its common name lavender) is a genus of 47 known species of flowering plants in the mint family Lamiaceae. Lavander develops in the form of a bush with a height of up to 1m, aand a multitude of upright branches covered with narrow leaves of light blue color. The flower grows at the top of the extended flower stems. Lavander blooms from June to August. The whole plant has a very pleasant smell. In relation to the standard lavender, lavander hybrids are referred to as Lavandins, which are more resistant and suitable for cultivation, because they endure low temperatures. Lavandin was probably created by hybrid introgression of lavender.

Lavender came from the ​​sunny rocks area of the western part of the Mediterranean, begining in the 13th century and spread to Europe. In the 16th century the cultivation of hybrid lavender began in Dalmatia after the First World War, during a famous wine crisis. Today, lavender is cultivated as lavandin on the island of Hvar, Brač, Korčula and Vis, and in Zagora area. The main area of ​​cultivation is the island of Hvar, and the most "domestic lavender" is cultivated under the popular name Hvar's lavender/ Lavandin.

Lavender is plant which is naturally aromatic, spicy, medicinal, honeyed, decorative and is visully attractive in a landscape. It has big importance and potential for Dalmatia.

ROSEMARY (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Vertical rosemary is a perennial bushy herb plant height up to 2m, made of many thick branches densely covered with leaves. Its leaves are very narrow, thick and dark on the front and light on the back. Between the leaves are flowers ranging from blue to violet. It blooms almost year round, from September to May, and the whole plant has a very pleasant smell.

Rosemary is an indigenous plant of the Mediterranean area, widespread throughout the whole of Dalmatia, and the population status is satisfactory. Dalmatian rosemary is a plant of outstanding importance and with big potential for Dalmatia, as it is an important aromatic, spicy, medicinal, honeyed, and ornamental and landscape species.

Within the rosemary population in the area of ​​Dalmatia, several types have been identified. Clambering plant rosemary is similar to upright one, except for the bush habit, which is crawling. The whitebloom rosemary differs in the white color of its flowers.

Rosemary as a cultural plant has been known long before Christ. In the Middle Ages, it was served as a spice and its significance as medicinal plants grew. The tradition of picking and using rosemary in Dalmatia dates back to 1462, when the first record of a pharmacy supply order was found in Hvar. The industrial production of rosemary leaves and oils began in the 17th century and spread in the 18th century. Rosemary cultivation began at the end of the 19th century on the islands of Hvar, Vis and Šolta.

FIG (Ficus carica var. Sativa)

The fig tree is a deciduous shrub which is related to the mulberry tree (Moraceae), it is ash - gray colored bark and reaches a height of over 10m. The whole plant contains white dense liquid. The fig is cultivated for the sake of a deliciously fleshy crop fruit - figs. Some figs bloom once, twice or even three times per annum. During ripening, the skin of the fruits turn a yellowish color and grow into one of three colors: purple, brown or black. Today there are 650 varieties of fig in the world, including 30 varieties in Dalmatia.

The long tradition of growing figs in Dalmatia is attested by Edict of Emperor Diocletian from 301, who confirms that in these areas figs were raised before Christ. Today, Croatia has only one collection of figs in Split, preserving 14 of the most important Croatian varieties. Traditionally fig has been used as table fruit, for the production of jam and brandy. Dry figs were especially popular, and were a significant export product of Dalmatia.

The dry fig is produced in a completely natural way (drying on the net and on the sun), and is a very important raw material for the production of fig cake (hjib, hib). 'Hib' from Vis, as a product of dry figs, has recently become increasingly recognized and appreciated in the market. In recent years, more and more ecological plantations of fig trees on the island of Vis have been raised, because there are very favorable natural conditions for the cultivation of this fruit tree and good economic potential.

In Dalmatia, as well as in the wider Croatian region, we find several varieties of figs: Bjelica, White Petrovača, Šaraguja, Termenjača, Zamorčica, Black bruise, Vodenjača, Crnica, Petrovača black, Zimica, Golden fig ...

The fig is an indispensable element of the Mediterranean landscape, having been cultivated more than 6,000 years ago. It belongs to one of the oldest cultivated fruit types, and is often mentioned in the Bible. The fig was a highly prized fruit to the ancient Greeks. It was a symbol of power and of manhood.

CAROB (Ceratonia siliqua)

Carob  is a flowering evergreen tree or shrub in the pea family, Fabaceae. It can reach up to 15m in height. Its bark is scarlet and smooth in youth, and later bark cracks into the dominant red color. The Carob tree blooms in September and October.

It is widely cultivated for its edible pods, whic are solid, reddish brown pod horn-shaped. Giving it the scientific name Ceratonia siliqua. This name derives from the Greek kerátiοn 'fruit of the carob (from keras 'horn'), and Latin siliqua 'pod, carob'. The duration of the pod's maturation is almost a whole year. The fruit is meaty and sweet, with a sugar content of over a 50%. There are up to 15 claim seeds in the fruit. One carob seed weighs 0.18 g, regardless of storage conditions and moisture content. For this reason, the carob seedwas used in the antique period as a standard meausure for weight in gold (1 carat = 0.18 g). Thus, the word carat comes from the Latin name of the carob (Ceratonia = keration).

Carob comes from ​​the Middle East, and was dispersed by ancient Greeks throughout the whole Mediterranean. It is mentioned in the Talmud and the Old and New Testaments, and is also called the bread of St. John the Baptist. According to legend, St. John was fed with a carob during his stay in the desert. Carob is a very old and appreciated seed variety in Dalmatia, and is either used as a fresh (dried) table fruit or is processed, mostly into carob flour. It is also used for the production of schnapps, which is valued in sweet alcoholic beverages. It is also used for animal feeding, especially for pigs.

We have several kinds of carob: Komiža's, Šipan's, Pula's, Boglić, Medunac. In some parts of Dalmatia, such as the island of Vis, carob was a significant export product.

The Komiža carob is cultivated only in a limited area of ​​the Island of Vis, specifically in the ​​Komiza area, from where its name derives. Its cultivation was not recorded outside of this area. There are 13 seeds in the pod, containing about 45% sugar, about 4% fat and about 4% protein, in among the best type of carobs. This variety is listed in the Croatian List of Sort. In history this type was highly valved, and all exports to overseas countries were produced on the island of Vis.

TEUTA'S BELLFLOWER (Campanula teutana)

The Teuta's bellflower (Campanula Teutana) is a stenoendemic species, meaning a strict endem enters narrowly into smaller areas. This Dalmatian island's endemic is currently only known from the surroundings of the Oključina on island of Vis.

The Teuta's bellflower is a herbaceous plant with leaves and four flowers on top of it.

Bellflower is bluish, bell-shaped and blooms from mid-May until the end of June.

The Teuta's bellflower grows in the vegetation system of Dalmatian limestone vertical rocks above the sea. It occupies the hard-to-reach cracks of north-facing vertical limestone cliffs , which have slightly more shade and moisture.

According to present knowledge, the Teuta's bellflower grows on a single locality on the island of Vis. Its population numbers about 250 individuals and it is possible that the species is endangered, although because of its very inaccessible habitat, it is not directly affected by man's influence.
It was discovered by Sandro Bogdanović in 2014.