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Forming very dense thickets in some areas and a more open vegetation cover in others and depending on the present soil composition, this plant society is typically made up of various species of gorse (Genista salzmanni, Spartium junceum, Calicotome villosa) and rock rose (Cistus monspeliensis, C. salviifolius, C. reticus, C. albidus, Halium haliumifolium, Tuberaria guttata) to which are commonly added spurges (Euphorbia dendroides, E. spinosa, E. paralias, E. characias), butcher's broom (Ruscus aculeatus), and a variety of aromatically scented herbs that can be used for kitchen and therapeutic purposes, like winter savory (Satureja montana), origanum (Origanum vulgare), lavender (Lavandula stoechas), laurel (Laurus nobilis), rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), sage (Salvia officinalis), or thyme (Thymus capitatus), and numerous bulb-forming plants. In many situations, garrigue is dominated by masses of prickly ivy (Smilax aspera) and wood asparagus (Asparagus acutifolius), and the multitude of thorny bushes often makes it impossible for a human visitor to access areas with an overgrowth of garrigue.


Even though garrigue is often thought of as an impoverished form maquis, the name actually refers to a separate shrub society that forms the predominant vegetation in low-altitude regions near the coast. Here, the ground is often very rocky or extremely dry and sandy. Garrigue usually comprises dwarf shrubs of only about one metre in height.