SEP 2009 | SEPTEMBER 2008 | SEP 2007

I had another chance to go over to the west of the island this month and was able to, once again, explore an area that I am just getting to know.  A visit to the Rhodopou peninsula was very rewarding, as we found the first cyclamen in bloom.  I searched again in vain for the rarer white C. graecum ssp. candicum, despite having been provided with a map with the area pinpointed. 

The weather was mixed and becoming chilly in the evenings, but the days were warm and sunny, with some light cloud.  Perfect for photographing!

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Quercus coccifera / Kermes Oak / Δρυς η κοκκοφόρος / Kermeseiche - With an absence of flowers to photograph I turned my camera to the glorious acorns which were everywhere. The beetle, Kermococcus vermillio, lives on the leaves of this oak and its scales produce the red colouring known as cochineal.

Allium guttatum ssp. dilatatum - I am not sure of the identification of this allium which I photographed on the Rhodopou peninsula.

Butterfly on Dittrichia viscose / Aromatic inula / κόνυςα / Klebriger Alant - This butterfly was one of hundreds fluttering around this Dittrichia viscose found on the roadside.  The plant was used in dyeing to produce lovely shades of green. Now chemical dyes are used to produce the same results.

Carlina gummifera / Pine Thistle / Αγριομαστιχιά / Mastixdistel - This plant is poisonous, but, despite this, was used in folk medicine in former years.  Children also used to use the white resin exuded by the plant as a mastic or chewing gum, hence the German name.  It is not a practice to be recommended.

Centaurea calcitrapa / Red Star Thistle / Κενταύριια η πεδιλοπαγίς / Fussangel-Flockenblume - In folk medicine, this plant was used to reduce fever and as a general tonic.  It is commonly found on roadsides and at the edges of fields.

Chicorium spinosum / Spiny Chicory / σταμναγκάθι / Stachelige Wegwarte ‘Stamnagathi’ - The woody stems of this plant used to be used to cover water jars to prevent insects falling in.  The popular Greek name reflects this – στάμνα – water jar and αγκάθι – spine. This plant was in the shade and its petals were closed, but its vibrant blue ensured that it did not go unnoticed.

Chicorium intybus / Chicory / Ραδίκι / Gewöhnliche Wegwarte - The more common C. intybus has paler blue flowers than its cousin C. spinosum.  It also grows taller and can be found at lower altitudes.  Its young leaves are collected and steamed as a vegetable.  In ancient times it was known as ‘chicorion’.

Colchicum cretense / Cretan Colchicum / Κολχικο το κρητικο - On the hill above the refuge the first autumn bulbs were putting in an appearance, mainly C. cretense – an endemic colchicum which can be found in the three main mountain ranges.

Crepis sibthorpiana / Sibthorp’s crepis / Κρεπίς κου Sibthorp - If I have correctly identitifed this little Crepis, it is endemic to the high mountains of Western Crete.  The plant takes it name from the English botanist John Sibthorp (1758-1796), co-founder of the Linnean Society in London.  His work was to provide the basis of the massive ‘Flora Graeca’, for which he provided funds in his will.  He died in Bath of consumption, contracted on his way home from Greece in 1796.

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