Source Ciane Nature Reserve in Syracuse
The Natural Reserve of the Ciane River and Saline of Syracuse , located on the outskirts of the city, protects the papyrus and preserves the environment of the salt pans located near the mouth of the Ciane river. This area, together with the area of the Natural Reserve of the mouth of the Fiumefreddo River, constitutes the only site where papyrus grows spontaneously .
The river Ciane, whose name comes from greek cyanòs which means blue, was born in Cozzo del Pantano, in the alluvial plain of Syracuse, from the Testa di Pisimota and Testa di Pisima springs, the latter is the main one and appears as a lake of blue water, known as Fonte Ciane, on whose banks the papyrus grows. The river Ciane, after a path of 8 km partly natural and partly artificial following numerous human interventions, flows into the Porto Grande of Syracuse. Near the mouth are the salt pans, which remained in operation until the 1980s, have now been abandoned and today constitute an important wetland for the rest of migratory birds.
The plant that characterizes the reserve is the typical papyrus of North Africa, belongs to the Ciperaceae family which has an erect triangular stem, submerged in its lower part, 3 to 6 m high, which bears an umbrella-shaped inflorescence at the top consisting of long and thin twigs ending in a spikelet of flowers. This plant is linked to the development of writing because the papyrus paper of the ancient Egyptians was produced from its stem. In the Papyrus Museum of Ortigia, it will be possible to relive the historical importance of this plant.
The arboreal component consists mainly of ash trees which often have numerous lichens on their bark. In the waters of the river there are Potamogeton and Ceratophyllum together with duckweed and Azolla caroliniana, an allochthonous species introduced a few years ago. In the salt flats there are plant species adapted to the high degree of salinity. The pre-reserve area has numerous eucalyptus trees planted in the 50s and 60s.