Palagianello’s territory is characterized by the presence, in an area particularly small, of different habitats, there is the presence of all the habitats of the SIC (sites of communitarian importance) except the Quercus trojana fosrests. The habitats’ calcareous walls, caves and Euphorbia’s formation are typical of the gravine’s sloping sides; Pine woods are present on the sloping sides ,on the bottom and plains. The wood of Quercus ilex is reduced into little areas on the bottom of the gravine and the formation of high bush is more present it is a degraded form of the Quercus Ilex wood.
The actual vegetable organizations are about 350 species (data which were stated by the project Life Natura named “Conservazione habitat Thero-brachypodietea SIC Area delle Gravine”); the 56% of these is formed by the organizations of the sub-steppe’s pasture, the rest of the vegetable taxa were censured in: rupicolo’s, wood environment, ruderal environments, garrigue and bush. The endemic species are very interesting, the ones included in the Red List and those of python-geographical interest. Among the endemic species, characterized by a restricted zone of distribution, in Palagianello we find the Cytisus Spinescens, the Thymus Spinulosus, the Helianthemum Jonium, the Ophrys Fuciflora Ssp. Apulica, the Serapias Orientalis ssp. Apulica, the Iris Pseudopumila, the Crepis Apula, the Crepis Bursifolia, the Centaurea Deusta, the Crocus Thomasii, the Arumapulum. Among the species included in the National Red List or in the Regional one regarding Italian plants we find the Campanula Versicolor, the Ophrys Tarentina, the Apulian Arum Italicum, the Acinos Suaveolens, the Oriental Serapis, the Allium Moschatum and the Gagea Foliosa. From the fauna point of view the territory has a rich avifauna, with some species defined by the European Union as priority. The steep chalky slopes are among the rare bird’s- nest sites for several species (especially birds of prey), as the Hawk Biarmicus, the Lesser Kestrel, both priority species, and the rarest Eurasian Eagle-Owl and the Egyptian Vulture. The priority habitat through the sub-steppe trails where wild grass and annual plants are present is the best zone for birds’ nests of several species including in the Bird’s Directive as the Melanocoripha Calandra, the Calandrella Brachydactyla, the Lullula Arborea, the Anthus Campestris, the Burhinus Oedicnemus, besides it is the hunting ground for the Hawk Biarmicus and the Lesser Kestrel. Among the other species included in the Bird’s Directive there are the Testudo Hermanni, the Bombina Variegata, the Elaphe Quatuorlineata, the Elaphe Situla. Among the reptiles, besides those aforementioned there are the Vipera Aspis and the Cyrtodactylus Kotschyi. The most common mammals are the Vulpes Vulpes, the Hystrix Cristata, the Meles Meles, the Martes Foina, the Mustela Nivalis and small rodents.
Some flora species testify an ancient connection between the Apulian peninsula and the Balkans area. In fact, some periods before the Pliocene (5 million years ago), the Mediterranean sea level was much smaller than the actual one and the exchange between flora and fauna was possible where today this area is separated by the Adriatic sea. Several among these plants called “paleoegeiche” are present in the Balkans area but present only in very restricted Italian areas. The most well-known is the Quercus Troiana, which is present in the surrounding areas but not in the Palagianello area. Among the other species there are the Alyssum Saxatile, the Euphorbia Dendroides, the Euphorbia Apios, the Phlomis Fruticosa, the Scrophularia Lucida, the Asyneuma Limonifolium, the Satureja Cuneifolia and the Campanula Versicolor. Many of these plants are on the rocky Palagianello gravine slopes.
In the Mediterranean bush-plain of Palagianello’s gravine there are some clearings, in the high part of the slope, where we can find several species of orchids as the Orchis, the Ophrys, the Serapias and the Anacamptis. Some of them are endemic species as the “Ofride Tarantina”, the “Ofride dei Fuchi Pugliese” and the “Serapide Orientale Pugliese”. Particular attention is due to the Stipa Austroitalica, endemic wild grass family of the South of Italy, typical of dry and sub-steppe pastures, a species which is considered priority in the Habitat Directive of the European Union. In Palagianello’s territory the Stipa Austroitalica is present in small areas in the rupestrian zones or more often in the dry pasture of the Thero-brachypodietea habitat, in the less pastured area or near the rocky slopes.