The vegetation of Elba is, for the most part, characterised by evergreen scrubland, but tall trees like holm oaks and, in specific areas, deciduous broadleaves (on the southern slopes of Mount Capanne, for example) are not uncommon. The strange chestnut forest in the Mount Marciana area is also particularly interesting as it contains rare examples of yew and holly trees. There are also man-made pine groves containing domesticated pines and Aleppo pines. Over the last few years, however, many of these have been destroyed by numerous fires which has led to the expansion of the Mediterranean scrub.
The flora on Mount Capanne is particularly special. Standing at over 1000m high despite its vicinity to the sea, this places is home to species that are typical of the Tuscan mountains like: the S. Giovanni lily, the wild tulip, the Corsican crocus and various native orchids like the Elba viola, the Elba cornflour, the Elba broom and Pancratium Illyricum.
Near Rio, on the eastern side of Elba, 160m up the slopes of Mount Serra, you will find the Orto dei Semplici, that stands where the ancient Santa Caterina Hermitage was. Centred around Mediterranean scrubland, this garden primarily contains plants with medicinal uses but also has some native and naturalised species from the Tuscan Archipelago.
The marvellous Giardino dell’Ottone (Brass Garden) came into being in the early 1900s thanks to Dr. Garbari, a wealthy man who was passionate about botany. As in the equivalent gardens in Liguria and Tuscany (among these the dell’Ottonella Garden, which is nearby but not open to the public), the Giardino dell’Ottone is home to many exotic plants that are the fruit of Dr. Garbari’s experiments in adapting them to the climate of Elba.