SEPTEMBER 2009 | SEP 2008 | SEP 2007

Early rains, particularly in the west of the island meant that the blooming of some autumn species was particularly early.  A trip over to the White Mountains and Elafonissi was a delight, as it was our first chance to see C. graecum this year.

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Pheonix theophrasti / Cretan Date Palm, Theophrastus Palm - Believed to be the forerunner of the edible date palm, this elegant, endemic palm is listed as endangered on the Greek Red List.  Found in only a few locations, several of its habitats are now threatened by development.  It is essential that steps be taken to protect this palm and its environment.

Pheonix theophrasti / Cretan Date Palm, Theophrastus Palm - The flowers of the female palm are pollinated by the wind from the stunning clusters of white male flowers on adjoining palms.  By the time the dates are ripening, the male flowers have withered and died.

Scilla (Prospero) autumnalis / Autumn squill - This little member of the hyacinth family shows considerable variation of form and is subject to study and chromosome  counts to establish whether there are, indeed several species on Crete.  For the moment they are classified as Scilla autumnalis. This species can also be found in Britain.

Castanea sativa / Sweet chestnut - The sweet chestnut is widely cultivated around the village of Elos in western Crete and elsewhere. During the autumn, an annual Chestnut Festival takes place in Elos. This year it will be held on the 26th-28th October.  Sweet and savoury delicacies made from chestnuts are served and there is always a variety of traditional entertainments.  During October huge numbers of freshly picked chestnuts are sold from the back of pick-up trucks. Subscribers to the Flowers of Crete newsletter will find a recipe for Cretan Chestnut Stew in the September issue.

Cakile maritima / Sea Rocket - As with many shoreline species, the seeds of Cakile maritima are dispersed by the sea.  The dry pods float away to be washed up eventually on another hopefully distant beach.

Centaurea pumilio - This very attractive Centaurea is only found on beaches in the extreme west of Crete including the island of Elafonissi, where this image of its seedheads was taken. The flower blooms in April-May and an image of this will be posted shortly in the section of the calendar for May.


Sternbergia sicula - One of the first of the autumn bulbs to bloom and always a welcome sight.  There are three Sternbergia on Crete.  S. sicula is common in eastern Crete and the bright, cheerful yellow of its petals is a wonderful contrast to the grey rocks amongst which it flowers.

Viscum album ssp. Creticum - The endemic Cretan mistletoe can be found growing high in the branches of Pinus halepensis sps brutia.  This Cretan subspecies has recently been described as having broader and shorter leaves than is typical.  This colony of parasitic mistletoe was discovered growing in a mountainous area above the village of Kroustas near Kritsa in eastern Crete.
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