Malta’s national tree is the Sandarac Gum Tree, known by us Maltese as Is-Siġra tal-Għargħar.
Some hundred years ago this tree used to cover large tracks of land, but nowadays only a relatively few specimens remain in the wild.
The Sandarac Gum tree is an evergreen tree which is capable of growing 6 to 15m in height. Its flattened delicate branches are covered with small scale-like leaves. On the same tree, both female and male cones can be present. The female cones, which occur almost all year round, are around 15mm long and divided into four segments. On the other hand, the male cones, which are smaller, are around 3mm in length and found at the branches’ edges.
The Sandarac Gum tree is a strictly protected tree under national legislation and permits are required from the relevant authorities to prune, fell or uproot such trees.
In addition, under the EC Habitats Directive the habitat type formed by our national tree is considered to be a priority habitat. According, to a report prepared by MEPA under this Directive, this habitat type has an unfavourable conservation status, mostly noting its limited area cover. It is expected that such status improves in the future. MEPA is indeed helping to protect the wild communities of the Sandarac Gum Tree through the designation of Special Areas of Conservation.