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Crete's Kedros Massif

griffon vultureEast of the village of Spili are the little-known Kedros Mountains (kedros is the Greek word for cedar tree). Their highest point is at 1776 meters (5825 feet). On the road to Yerakari (in the Amari Valley) at about 800 meters, in the western end of this range, are found some cultivated fields which are one of the few sites for an endemic red tulip; there are also red crown anemones, and another bluish anemone, tassel hycacinths, corn marigolds, and other flowers. A very impressive array of orchids are found on low hills across the stream, with some 25 species in flower simultaneously, and often in great numbers. There are also some special irises, sand crocuses, fritillaries, and daffodils. Along the stream, trees include Oriental planes, wild pear and cherry. Tree frogs and Balkan green lizards are among amphibians found here; griffon vultures, golden and Bonelli's eagles are sometimes seen overhead, along with other birds.

Above the village of Nea Kria Vrisi, at the southeast end of the massif, another good orchid site is located in a large limestone maquis area. The garrigue here is has both yellow and white asphodels, spiny spurge and spiny burnet, along with other plants resistant to grazing, with some 30 species of orchids concealed among them. Barbary nut tree grows here and the tall Cretan arum, with yellow spikes. Griffon vultures fly over this area.