The vegetation of the island is characterized by tropical luxuriance, - the moutainous regions being clad with dense forest, in which various species of palms, the camphor-tree (Laurus Camplaora), and the aloe are conspicuous.
Even in ancient times it was famous for its groves of bay-trees (laurus) from which its name was perhaps derived, and which in imperial times gave the villas of its territory a name for salubrity, so that both Vitellius and Commodus resorted there.
Among the fruits Ettingshausen records Quercus, Liquidambar, Laurus, Nyssa, Diospyros, Symplocos, Magnolia, Victoria, Hightea, Sapindus, Cupania, Eugenia, Eucalyptus, Amygdalus; he suggests that the fruits of the London Clay of Sheppey may belong to the same plants as the leaves found at Alum Bay in the Isle of Wight.
Among the more interesting plants of this deposit may be mentioned Torreya nucifera, now Japanese; an evergreen oak close to the common Quercus Ilex; Laurus canariensis, Apollonias canariensis, Persea carolinensis, and Ilex canariensis; Daphne pontica (a plant of Asia Minor); a species of box, scarcely differing from the English, and a bamboo.
These are made up, as Prince Max zu Neuwied found in southern Bahia in 1817, " of the genera Cocos, Melastoma, Bignonia, Rhexia, Mimosa, Inga, Bombax, Ilex, Laurus, Myrthus, Eugenia, Jacaranda, Jatropha, Visinia, Lecythis, Ficus, and a thousand other, for the most part, unknown species of trees."