Cynoglossum creticum - Cretan Hound’s Tongue, Blue Hound’s Tongue - Kretische Hundszunge - The pretty shading of the petals combined with striking veining makes this plant very photogenic. Its prickly seed pods were used by children in games, as they stick easily to clothes.
Cynoglossum columnae - Hound’s Tongue - Hundszunge - The form of the cynoglossum’s leaves is reflected in its botanical name ‘kyon’ – hound and ‘glossa’ – tongue (from the Greek).
Fritillaria messanensis - Messina fritillary - Messina Schachblume - One of my favourite flowers! I was so excited when I found my first fritillary on Crete. I have now found this delicate bloom in several areas in the east of the island and am always delighted to see it.
Gladiolus italica - Italian gladiolus - Saat-Siegwurz (Italienische Gladiole) - Apparently this gladiolus is more common in the west than in the east. There are, however, large colonies to be found around Aghios Nikolaos and Elounda. It is believed that the gladiolus was the ‘hyacinth’ of Ancient Greece.
Lotus tetragonolobus - The vibrant and rich red flowers of this ‘pea’ are followed by edible seed pods.
Muscari comosum - Tassel hyacinth - Schopfige Traubenhyazinthe - The bulbs of this muscari ‘volvi’ are sold in supermarkets and shops in spring. They are cooked, often boiled with vinegar, to produce a bitter ‘pickled onion’ like vegetable. Often seen on taverna menus as ‘skordoulaki’, as an appetiser or meze. Not to my taste – I prefer the beautiful flowers that the bulb produce.
Muscari spreitzenhoferi - Spreitzenhof’s muscari - This little endemic muscari has a much less pronounced ‘tassel’. As with other muscari the bright tassel composes of sterile flowers. The true flowers are the much duller purplish brown flowers which are ranged lower down the stem.
Ophrys ferrum equinum - Horseshoe ophrys - I may have misidentified this ophrys, which apparently has not been positively identified on Crete. It was found growing alone in the hills above Plaka. I was fascinated by the deep velvety black of its lip.
Ophrys cinereophila - Small flowered brown ophrys - Another ophrys I find difficult to identify – it appears so similar to others in this group. Common in the east of Crete it seems to everywhere in March. It has small flowers clearly edged with yellow.