North Cyprus has its own Herbarium, located at the Alevkaya Forest Station up in the mountain area between Esentepe and Değirminlik on the east coast. The first Herbarium in Cyprus was actually located in Lefkoşa, and its collection was built over many years during the British colonial era, but it was subsequently cut off from North Cyprus in the divisions of 1974.
The current Herbarium has been open to the public since 1989, and it was the culmination of efforts by one Dr. Deryck Viney, a one-time British resident who lived in the village of Karaman. He worked with other foreign experts and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to develop the project. Dr. Viney, a qualified botanist and a true English gentleman, (to those of us who have had the pleasure of knowing him), spent many years studying and documenting the flora of North Cyprus and publishing his findings in various books such as ‘An Illustrated Flora of North Cyprus.’ He also had the benefit of help from personnel at Kew Gardens.
The Herbarium now houses around 800 species, which are all found in various locations across North Cyprus, and it features a wonderful collection of pressed flowers, all with their descriptions – both Latin and common – and the locations where they were found. There is also what is known as the Spirit Collection, which forms the findings of rare orchids, stored and contained in bottles with chemicals added to preserve them.
There are also various line drawings by Dr. Viney, produced over a long period of time, with 750 being finished by the time the Herbarium officially opened, and these are shown in a calendar order fashion to enable viewers to see at what time of year they can be found.
You can get to the project either by the scenic mountain road via Çatalköy and Arapköy, following the main coastal road, driving past the five finger mountain range (Beşparmak), and once past this you will see a turning on the left signposted for Alevkaya. From here it is another 5 or so miles along a decent track road.
Alternatively there is a shorter route, via the Esentepe/Karaagaç end of the coast road, where you can follow the road right up to Alevkaya.
At the time of writing the Herbarium is open between 8am and 4pm weekdays and weekends, and should be on your list of places to see if you are a budding botanist or someone who loves the outdoors, as the surrounding forest area is a superb place to walk too.
Please also refer to our tags below for other related articles on other nature and wildlife.