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Plant of the month

Alyssum fragillimum (Bald.) Rech. f.

Alyssum fragillimum is a dwarf perennial herbaceous species. Stems are thin, placed at the ground with a length of 5 cm, branched, that form roots. The species is a local Greek endemic in Crete and more specifically in the Lefka Ori massif at altitudes above 1500 m. Despite being a local endemic, it has very broad distribution within this zone and at least 15 localities are known to occur. It is very common locally - actually in many cases there are no distinct subpopulations but there is a continuous distribution.

Pinus heldreichii H. Christ

Heldreich’s pine is an evergreen pine that combines certain features that make it a unique species of Greek flora and nature. It is a tree very resistant to cold, and therefore it grows in adverse climatic conditions and at altitudes from 1,000 to 2,500 m, where the forests of black pine and fir usually stop. At a height it can reach from 20 to 40m, creating one of the most imposing images of the Greek mountains, with a trunk of many meters and a diameter that often exceeds two meters.

Platanthera chlorantha (Custer) Rchb

Platanthera chlorantha is an orchid with a tall, robust stem, bearing small, slender white-greenish flowers with a characteristically long spur. It appears in forests, shrublands and meadows, flowering from May up to August. Its distribution includes nearly entire Europe, the Middle East, Caucasus, reaching its easternmost borders in Iran. In Greece, it appears in almost all floristic regions, apart from the Cyclades and Crete, from an elevation of 800 m a.s.l. and above.

Campanula merxmuelleri Phitos

Campanula merxmuelleri is a biennial or perennial (monocarpic) species with numerous simple stems having flowers and leaves. The species is a local Greek endemic that occurs in Skyros and Psara, in limestone rock crevices and old walls (e.g. castles, churches) at an altitude from 30 to 450 m. The largest subpopulation of the species is distributed at the Mountain Kochylas, Skyros. The main pressures for the species are intense grazing and overcollection. Flowering takes place from April to May.

Aristolochia cretica Lam.

Aristolochia species are perennial herbs and frutescent climbers with alternate leaves and a very characteristic zygomorphic perianth. Aristolochia cretica is endemic to Crete, Karpathos and Kasos islands. It grows in ravines and rocky slopes with phrygana, semi-shady places by rocks or under bushes, usually on limestone. It flowers from mid-March to end of May.

Galanthus reginae-olgae Orph. subsp. vernalis Kamari

It blooms in the heart of the winter depending on the weather and the altitude from mid-January to late February or early March. The species is characterized by a winter flowering period, although the specific epithet vernalis refers to spring flowering, apparently as opposed to related Galanthus taxa that bloom in the autumn.

Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile

Posidonia oceanica the marine plant that causes unwarranted fear in so many swimmers that say "do not swim above the seaweed," is an Angiosperm monocotyledon and not a seaweed (alga). It is more widely known as Poseidonia, as god Poseidon had chosen it as its favorite plant in antiquity.

Malus trilobata (Poir.) C.K. Schneid.

Malus trilobata is one of the rarest trees of the Greek flora. It is an east Mediterranean element with constricted and disjunct populations in Israel, Lebanon, Syria and Asia Minor. In Europe, it extends only in the extreme NE Greece, in Evros prefecture, between the villages of Dadia and Makri.

Galanthus ikariae Baker

Galanthus ikariae is endemic to the Aegean islands (Ikaria, Naxos, Andros, Skyros). It grows in wet and shady places, usually in ravines and deciduous woodlands. Its flowering period starts in late November, peaking during December. It is distinct among the Greek Galanthus species and is considered related to G. woronowii from the Caucasus.

Centaurea vlachorum Hartvig

Centaurea vlachorum Hartvig was described only in 1981 from the mountains Milia and Aftia and it was initially considered an endemic species of Northern Pindos (N. Greece), but it was recently discovered on mountains of Albania, rendering it a Balkan endemic.

Although the genus Centaurea is represented by a 3-digit figure of species in Greece, C. vlachorum stands out quite easily due to a number of morphological characters, such as leaf shape, indumentum and the thickened stem below the capitulum.