Some flatworms are brilliantly colored and the colors may warn of protective chemicals, and unpleasant tastes.Zelkova abelicea, also known as Cretan zelkova, and on Crete proper as abelitsia (αμπελιτσιά), is a species that belongs to the genus Zelkova and is endemic to the Greek island of Crete.
They are very flat, lack the well-developed head with elaborate tentacles and sensory structures, and have no feathery gills on their upper surface. Both partners can lay flat spirals of tiny eggs on rock surfaces.Flatworms crawl or glide over the bottom by beating microscopic hair-like projections called cilia against a trail of mucus they lay down.Some worm’s bodies have muscular edges that they can ripple to travel more rapidly, and they can even swim short distances in a current by undulating their body edge.The tree is strongly branched resulting in a dense, crown shaped habit that extends close to the ground.The leaves are small and green with serrated edges.Flatworms belong to a distinctive phylum of their own.
They are characterized by extremely flat, unsegmented bodies, with a simple head end.
Traditionally, they are appreciated mostly for its beauty and the shadow they give (tall trees usually are near "mitata", shepherd's huts) and of course for the even today famous use in the construction of the traditional club - the Katsouna.
It could also be the emblematic tree of Crete as it is found on all the mountains of the island in small or large populations and they are among the oldest "inhabitants" of the island.
Zelkova abelicea produces perfect hermaphroditic flowers which are small and scented, and pollination is therefore thought to be achieved by insects.
This species is capable of suckering, a form of reproduction where new shoots arise from an existing root system rather than from a seed. Root cutting seem to show a 50% success rate, though best results may be seen in the cuttings taken from late August.
Though the species was threatened by urbanization (habitat loss), overgrazing and wildfires, recent fieldwork seems to show that Zelkova abelicea is becoming more abundant.