Maquis or macchia is a shrubland biome in the Mediterranean region, typically consisting of densely growing evergreen shrubs.

Maquis or macchia is defined by Helge Vedel as ‘one of three types of the remains of old forest cover found in the Mediterranean, being first stage in the degeneration of the evergreen forest – a process begun centuries ago – on its way to becoming garigue. A low scrub community consisting of small trees and bushes 2–4 metres high, tolerant of seasonal drought, the maquis derives its name from the Corsican word for a species of the Sun Rose (Cistus) – a striking component of the maquis community. Others are Tree Heather, Strawberry Tree, Lentisc and various brooms. Many, such as Rosemary, Rue, Mint, Thyme and Sage, are strongly scented, a factor which helps to protect them from grazing animals. Dominant plants are often stunted trees and bushes of Juniper or Kermes oak. The maquis is intensively used – as a source of fuel and leaf-fodder for animals, dye for clothing, tan for leather dressing, resin and rubber, briar root and a wide variety of materials for household use.’

Bibliography

Trees and shrubs of the Mediterranean by Helge Vedel, translated from the Danish by Aubrey Rush (Penguin Guides, 1978), p13-14.