December this year has been quite cold by Cretan standards, with a fair amount of rain and snow on the high mountains. A succession of dull days meant no chance of photography, but the flowers I did manage to capture were a delight.

Androcymbium rechingeri Photograph
Androcymbium rechingeri - This lovely image is produced courtesy of Zylogos member Jennifer Neal. A. rechingerii grows on the remote beaches of western Crete and is one of the most endangered of our flowers here. Local people often refer to this as the Minoan Lily and it is endemic to the island.

Androcymbium rechingeri Drawing
Androcymbium rechingeri - It is with enormous pleasure that I am able to include this fantastic botanical drawing of A. rechingerii in the December calendar, as the first of, I hope, a regular contribution by artist Hans de Vries. Hans is a professional botanical illustrator and an artist who is committed to the flora of Crete and has kindly allowed his work to be featured here.

Androcymbium rechingeri Watercolour
Androcymbium rechingeri - As an ongoing and new feature of Flowers of Crete, I am also including a watercolour study of A. rechingerii by myself, in the hope that it will give an added dimension to the calendar and will give pleasure to visitors to the site.

Anemone coronaria - Last winter there was very little sign of this lovely anemone, but the rains this season have brought them out again in full bloom. Ranging in colour from the palest pink to vibrant purple, they are always a welcome sight.

Arisarum vulgare
Arisarum vulgare - This pretty little Arisarum is known as Friar’s Cowl for the curious shape of its flower. In Greek it is known as Snake Flower – again because of its form and colour. Growing in the shade of olive trees it is easily overlooked, but worth seeking out.

Bryonia cretica
Bryonia cretica - A form of the White Bryony found in the UK, the pale greenish flowers of this climbing plant are delicate and very attractive in the bright sun of a warm winter day. It is poisonous and later in the year will bear greenish berries.

Clematis cirrhosa
Clematis cirrhosa - A Mediterranean form of Virgin’s Bower, the trees around Havgas and Plaka are draped with this wonderful clematis. The lovely image shown here is by courtesy of Allan and Lin Edwards. A common climber around the island, it is no less beautiful for that.

Cyclamen hederifolium
Cylcamen hederifolium - I photographed this pretty and unusual cyclamen in the west of the island. Growing in abundance it was difficult to capture as the light was fading and the colony were growing under a dense canopy of trees. This delicate flower has ivy shaped leaves which make it very distinctive, although its diminutive pale pink flowers look very like Cyclamen graecum.

Mandragora officinarum
Mandragora officinarum - Previously known as M. autumnalis this native species has pale violet or almost colourless flowers, which are followed by yellow berries in spring. The root is said to resemble a man and to dig it from the ground would result in instant death, driven mad by the piercing screams emitted as the plant is wrenched from the ground. Local lore suggests that to remove mandrake from your land, you should tie a hungry dog near to the plant and then bury a piece of raw meat under its leaves. The unfortunate dog will then suffer the consequences of its actions in uncovering the meat, rather that its owner.

Pine cones
Pine cones - With not so many flowers and fewer insects around, I turned my lens to this lovely pine cone – a symbol of the winter solstice and the Christmas celebrations.

Viscum Album
Viscum album - Another Christmas symbol - the endemic Cretan mistletoe grows on the branches of Pinus halepensis subs. brutia - the Calabrian pine. It can be found in various sites in the east of the island. Shot from high branches by locals it looks wonderfully like golden baubles against the dark pines around Christmas and the New Year.
Calendar » December ...
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