The Petrified Forest of Lesvos is one of the finest and rarest monuments of geological heritage worldwide. Created 20 million years ago, when volcanic materials covered and petrified the forest that was covering the area at that time. The Greek state recognizing the great environmental, geological and paleontological value of the Petrified Forest of Lesvos , declared the area “a Protected Natural Monument ” ( PD 433/1985 ) .
The first references for the Lesvos Petrified Forest are dating back to the 19th century. Since then the Petrified Forest aroused the interest of many travelers and scholars. Scientists who studied the Petrified Forest mention its uniqueness and its great scientific value which has been kept in excellent condition to this day.
The creation of the Petrified Forest is associated with the intense volcanic activity in the area of Northern Aegean 20 million years ago. The large number of standing petrified tree trunks and their fully developed roots systems is a proof that the trees were petrified in their original position and they have not been transferred to the location that we find them today. It is an autochthon petrified forest .
Today the natural erosion of volcanic rocks reveals impressive standing and laying tree trunks with a length of more than twenty meters and with a diameter of up to three meters. In recent years findings of particular scientific importance, were brought to light due to the systematic excavations that are being carried out in the area by the Natural History Museum of the Lesvos Petrified Forest.
The Petrified Forest reveals information about the composition of the palaeoflora (an important indicator of the past climatic and environmental conditions and their changes), and at the same time it is a unique book where it is recorded the geological history of the Aegean basin for the last 20 million years.
The findings in the Petrified Forest reveal that the area was part of a mixed forest of conifers and angiosperms, an indicator that the flora of the region has been evolved considerably. Conifers are represented by genera of the families Taxodiaceae , Protopinaceae, Pinaceae, Cupressacea. Several of the fossil species which have been identified belong to angiosperms, such as cinnamon trees , laurel , poplar , walnut , beech , alder, platanus , maple , many kinds of oak etc. Findings of fossilized palms are of particular importance as they constitute the first record of standing petrified palms. The composition of fossilized flora shows that the Petrified Forest of Lesvos grew in a subtropical climate.