With over 1150 plant species, the Danube Delta has an extremely rich flora. It is more complex and interesting, scientifically speaking, than anywhere else in the world, representing euro-asiatic elements (28%), eastern elements (24%), European elements (14%), and mixed and adventitious elements. There are several types of plants:
1. Floating plants (with their roots in water and their leaves above the surface): white water lily (Castalia alba), yellow water lily (Nuphar luteum), frogbit (Hydrocharis morsusrane), water caltrop (Trapa natans), pondweed (Potamogeton natans), rizac (Stratiotes aloides), club mosses, sword flags, marsh thistles, épis d’eau etc. Only a quarter of the species (26%) are related to aquatic medium (hydrophilic, hygrophilic and hygromesophilic).
2. Riverine and floating reed islets i.e. reed – 80% of Phyragmites genus and 20% of mace reed: water fern (Nephrodium thelypteris), sorrel (Rumex hidrolapatum), “Forget-me-not” (Myositis palustris), brook mint (menthaaquatica), water hemlock (Cicuta virosa). In the Danube Delta the reed plot swamp vegetation is predominant and it covers about 78% of the total area. The floating reed islet is a thick layer of 1-1.6 m, made up of a combination of reed rhizome and roots of other aquatic plants mixed up with organic remains and soil. Initially fixed, the floating reed islet detaches from the marshes and pools ground, turning in to floating islands with distinct sizes, which pushed by wind, moves on the surface of the water.
3. Plants growing on land – white willow (Salix alba), poplar (Populus), alder (Alnus), ash tree (Fraxinus), mixed woods on the banks. The forests on the marine fields Letea and Caraorman are steppe mixed foliage forests, locally called ” hasmac”, with light gray oak (Quercus pedunculiflora), pedunculate oak (Q. robur), ash (Fraxinus angustifolia), aspen tree (Populus tremura), elm (Ulmus foliacea) and with climbing plants, Periploca graeca, Vitis silvestris, Hedra helix. It represents only 0.8% of the total area of the Danube Delta.
Tall trees, mostly willows and poplars grow on Delta’s land. But Delta offers you rare species easy to find in natural reservations.
A series of rare species may be found in the delta such as Ephedra distachya, Carex colchica, Nypmhaea candida, and Colvovulus persicus.
The salting vegetation covers 6% of the total area, developing on salinizated soils and on marine saline salt soils the presence of the following species make the Delta distinguishable: Salicornia patula, Juncus marinus, Juncus littoralis, Plantago cornuti.
With the support of UNESCO, the entire Danube Delta was declared a Biosphere Reservation in August 1990, and with over 500 sq. km. strictly protected areas, the zone was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991.
In the Delta there are three areas of woodland strictly protected as natural reservations: Letea an ancient forest located at the highest elevation in the Delta, situated in the NE. It is a particularly impressive virgin forest with old trees many of them over 500 years old. The other two protected areas are Caraorman and Erenciuc. In these forest you can find oaks, Quercus robur, Quercus pedunculiflora, Fraxinus angustifolia, Fraxinus Pallisae, Ulmus foliacea, Populus alba, Populus canescens, Populus tremul,fluffy ash trees (quite rare); shrubs – Prunus spinosa, Cartaegus, Rosa canina, Berberis vulgaris, Ligustrum vulgare, Hyppophae rhamnoides, Tamarix gallica; and the climbing plants: Vitis silvestris, Hedera helix, Humulus lupulus and the most interesting: liana, with a 25 m length in Periploca Graeca.