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FEBRUARY 2009 | FEBRUARY 2008

The weather in February has been very mixed. The early part of the month was mild and sunny, but suddenly the rains arrived and the temperature plummeted.  So the early promise of spring was put on hold for a while.  However, the snow capped mountains look splendid and remind me that it will soon be time to search for Scilla nana and Crocus sibieri. 

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Anemone coronaria / Crown or Poppy anemone / Ανεμώνη η στεφανωματική / Kronen-Anemone - The anemone coronaria has been slow to bloom this year, but I did find a meadow full of purple and mauve blooms – a sight that always lifts the spirits.

Anemone hortensis ssp. heldreichii / Anemone hortensis / Ανεμώνη η κηπαία υποείδοζ του Χελντράιξ - This pretty little anemone is endemic to Crete and the Karpathos islands. Most often found with white petals, it is sometimes pink or mauve/blue.  It is found in olive groves, rocky places and phrygana.

Barlia robertiana / Robert’s Giant Orchid / Μπάρλια του Robert – γιγαντορχιδέα / Roberts Mastorchis - Sometimes reaching to 50 cms tall, this wonderful orchid is in bloom in olive groves and on hillsides all over the island.  It is gathered for its wonderful scent, which is very sad, and is found in offices and homes everywhere.  Nevertheless it does seem to continue to propagate.  A field of B. robertiana is truly an amazing sight.

Eruca vesicaria
Eruca vesicaria - I was struck by the simple beauty of this flower, easily overlooked, and yet so delicate and striking on closer inspection.  It is found in association with cultivation.

Leontodon tuberosus / Προβάτα - A common weed all over Crete.  It is gathered as horta.  The roots, which look a little like small dahlia roots, can be boiled or steamed.  The leaves can be eaten raw or lightly steamed.

Gathering horta - On the way to the Nature Reserve at Pezoulia, we stopped so that I could photograph the Leontodon, and Dimitris Kiriakakis, President of the Vrahassi Syllogos, showed us how villagers would gather this plant, particularly during Lent.

Cyclamen creticum / Cretan Sowbread, Cyclamen / Κυκλάμινο το κρητικό / Kretisches Alpenveilchen - An endemic cyclamen which is usually pure white, but sometimes is found in a delicate, dusky pink.  Cyclamen creticum is found in shady, damp places.  It is the only spring flowering cyclamen on the island.

Dikte in the snow - On a crisp, chilly morning, as we were driving over the mountain road to Pezoulia, we just had to stop to photograph the snow capped peaks of Dikte in the distance.  This view is looking across the Fourni valley towards Dreros.

Orchis collina / Hill orchid / Ορξιδέα του λόφου / Hügel-Knabenkraut - One of the first orchids to bloom, early in the season.  It is fairly common all over the island.  This very pale example was found above Plaka near Elounda and it stood out amongst the others that were the more usual pinkish grey.

Horta - The leaves of Leontodon tuberosus – Προβάτα.

Iris unguicularis ssp cretensis / Cretan Iris / Ιριζ η κητική / Kretische Schwertlilie - An endemic iris, which is one of the most beautiful on Crete.  Its grass-like leaves form untidy clumps with many striking flowers.  It is found in open, stony places, and phrygana, often on slopes.
 
   
 
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