Garrigue is a type of low, soft-leaved scrubland found on limestone soils around the Mediterranean Basin, generally near the seacoast, where the climate is ameliorated, but where annual summer drought conditions obtain. The term has also found its way into haute cuisine, suggestive of the resinous flavours of a garrigue shrubland. . UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre described garrigue as "discontinuous bushy associations of the Mediterranean calcareous plateaus, often composed of kermes oak, lavender, thyme, and white cistus. There may be a few isolated trees.
Aside from dense thickets of kermes oak that punctuate the garrigue landscape, juniper and stunted holm oaks are the typical trees; aromatic lime-tolerant shrubs such as lavender, sage, rosemary, wild thyme and Artemisia are common garrigue plants.
The aromatic oils and soluble monoterpenes of such herbs leached into garrigue soils from leaf litter have been connected with plant allelopathy, which asserts the dominance of a plant over its neighbors, especially annuals, and contributes to the characteristic open spacing and restricted flora in a garrigue. The fines (charred wood and smoke residues, or charcoal dust) of periodic brush fires also have had an effect on the patterning and composition of the garrigues. Clear summer skies and intense solar radiation have induced the evolution of protective physiologies: the familiar glaucous, grayish-green of garrigue landscapes is produced by the protective white hairs and light-diffusing, pebbled surfaces of many leaves typical of garrigue plants. Deforestation of the indigenous oak forest since the Late Bronze Age, for cultivation of olives, vines and grain, the introduction of sheep and especially goats and charcoal-making for heat and iron-working, exposed the land surface to weathering and resulted in erosion of the topsoil. The wild garrigue, then, is a man-formed landscape. The intensity of grazing pressure has had a direct response in the ecotope, reflected today in the decline of goat-pasturing.
The word is related to quercus, the Latin word for oak, which in turn perhaps comes from an older, pre-Indo-European, root, kar, meaning to be hard. (Compare the Latin cornu calx, from which the word calculus is derived.)
The dense, thrifty growth of garrigue flora has recommended many of its shrubs and sub-shrubs for gardens. Though they are grown under cooler, moister conditions, many shrubs and flowering perennials of the garrigue are mainstays of the "mixed border" of herbaceous and woody plants found in English gardens.