JULY 2008 | JULY 2007

July 2008 continued...

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Omalos - One of the most beautiful areas of Crete, the Omalos Plateau is home to many unusual and endemic plants. A real treat for nature lovers, photographers and artists, it is somewhere I shall be returning to from time to time over the next twelve months.

Scolymus hispanicus / Spanish oyster plant / Ασκόλυμπρο / Spanische Golddistel - The delicate stems and the roots of this compositae are delicious and eaten steamed or boiled and drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice. The roots, however, are very difficult to dig up in barren and rocky soil, so are best bought in the supermarket.

Red berries - These red berries took my eye as they glistened in the sunshine near the Kallergi Refuge.

Satureja alpina ssp. merionalis - It was very windy when I was trying to photograph this little satureja and the image is a little blurred. This was the best shot I could get, so include it here, as I have not seen this little alpine before.

Siderites syriaca ssp syriaca / Mountain Tea / Μαλοτήρα / Bergtee - This plant, although called ‘syriaca’ is endemic to Crete. It is the herb used to make ‘mountain tea’ and is found in the White Mountains.

Verbascum spinosum / Spiny mullein / Βερμπάσκο το ακανθωτό / Dornige Königskerze - The sharp spines on this Verbascum made it easily identifiable. Low growing and very beautiful, it grows in the White Mountains. V. spinosum is endemic to Crete.

Verbascum arcturus / Βερμπάσκο η άρκτος - Another endemic verbascum, the bright yellow of its flowers with its rich reddish purple staining make it one of the most attractive. It has straight, erect stems which grow from a base of hairy leaves. It can be found often growing from the sides of ravines or steep cliffs in the west of the island.

Galactites tormentosa / Galactites / Ασπράγκαθο / Milchfleckdistel - The white veins of this plant make it look as if filled with milk (‘gala’ – Greek). Its flower heads are delicate and beautifully shades from white to mauve. It is not found in the far east of the island.

Nerium oleander - The oleander can be found in dry river beds, along roadsides and spotted on mountainsides and blooms in pink, red and white. All parts of the oleander are poisonous and should not be gathered. This great drawing by Hans de Vries shows the oleander in all its stages.
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