Plant of the Month

September 2017

Crocus cancellatus subp. mazziaricus



The species Crocus cancellatus subps. mazziaricus is a geophyte with distribution almost in all Greece (with exception Crete and the islands of Northeast Aegean), the Balkans and northwest Turkey. It is the first Crocus species that flowers in autumn, with a flowering season from September to November. This species can be found from sea level up to 1500 meters in phrygana, forest edges and rocky locations.

In mythology Crocus was a young man. The god Hermes killed him during a game of discus by mistake and he turned his dead body into the flower he is today. In Iliad, Homer describes the colour of the rising sun by comparing him with the colour of Crocus.

S. Oikonomidis

August 2017

Origanum microphyllum (Benth.) Vogel



Origanum microphyllum (Cretan marjoram) is a perennial aromatic shrub, endemic to the island of Crete. It occurs in the wider area of Lefka Ori and Dikti massifs, in a notable altitude range, from almost sea level up to 1800 m. The typical habitat of the species is open stony and rocky sites, but also phrygana and forest clearings. Origanum microphyllum is flowering from June to August, which is the period where parts of the plant are collected, as they are used in the preparation of therapeutic brews, often together with the Cretan mountain tea (Sideritis syriaca subsp. syriaca). Its very special and intense aroma is attributed to the presence of monoterpenoids (rather than phenolic compounds) in the composition of the essential oil. In sites where Origanum microphyllum grows together with the common oregano (Origanum vulgarum subsp. hirtum), the hybrid Origanum x minoanum can be also found.

A. Kaltsis

July 2017

Teucrium montbretii Benth.



Perennial with woody base, leaves broadly ovate to suborbicular, white tomentose to both sides. Flowering shoots up to 15 cm, slender, brittle, tomentose-villous. Flowers with pink to reddish-purple corollas, forming dense and narrow spikes. It grows in vertical limestone cliffs up to 500 m and flowers from May to July (occasionally later). T. montbretii is a variable species divided into 5 subspecies, distributed in Greece (Dodecanese Islands), S. Anatolia, W. Syria, Lebanon and Palestine. T. montbretii subsp. heliotropifolium is probably endemic to Karpathos and Saria, while the rest of the records from the Dodecanese Islands seem to belong to T. montbretii subsp. pamphylicum.

I. Bazos

June 2017

Lilium albanicum Griseb.



Lilium albanicum is one of the five representatives of the genus Lilium in Greece and one of the two Greek species with yellow flowers. Its distribution within borders includes Pindos and the mountains of northern Greece, while outside Greece it is located in Albania, Bulgaria and the former Yugoslavia. This impressive plant occurs in meadows and forest openings at high altitudes, usually higher than 1450 m, and can reach up to 2200 m. It blooms in June and July. It is protected by the Presidential Decree 67/81 and is included in the world list of species that need protection of the UN.

K. Goula

May 2017

Helichrysum heldreichii Boiss.



Helichrysum heldreichii is a local endemic species of Crete and occurs only on vertical limestone rocks in two gorges of Chania Perfecture, the Samaria Gorge and the Aradena Gorge. The population of the species has a total of less than 2,000 individuals. It flowers from May to June.

K. Koutsovoulou