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Plant of the month

Crocus orphei Karamplianis & Constantin.

Local endemic geophyte. Cr. orphei prefers the clearings in Quercus, Fagus and Pinus forest and the margins of melting snow patches in subalpine grasslands. It is known only from the type collection (three subpopulations on Mt. Falakro), at an elevation range of 600 to 1500 m a.s.l. The plants flower from mid-February to mid-May, depending on the weather severity (mainly during the melting snow period) and the elevation.

Helleborus odorus Waldst. & Kit. subsp. cyclophyllus (A. Braun) Maire & Petitm.

Helleborus odorus subsp. cyclophyllus is a Balkan endemic subspecies. It occurs in open forests, shrublands and meadows, mainly at the montane zone (700-1500 m), in the north and central part of the Balkan peninsula, from Mt Erymanthos in Peloponnisos to Albania, south Bulgaria and Serbia. The taxon is the unique representative of the genus Helleborus in Greece, as the presence of one more species, Helleborus orientalis, is not yet confirmed.

Muscari commutatum Guss.

Πολυετές ποώδες φυτό με ωοειδή βολβό. Τα φύλλα είναι συγκεντρωμένα στη βάση του φυτού, ενώ άφυλλος βλαστός καταλήγει σε έναν πυκνό βότρυ, που αποτελείται από γόνιμα και άγονα άνθη. Φύεται σε περιοχές χαμηλών υψομέτρων, σε ανοικτές πετρώδεις θέσεις σε φρύγανα, αραιά πευκοδάση, ελαιώνες και εγκαταλελειμμένους αγρούς. Ανθίζει συνήθως από τον Φεβρουάριο έως τον Απρίλιο. Στην Ελλάδα είναι αρκετά κοινό και έχει καταγραφεί από όλες τις χλωριδικές περιοχές.

Arbutus unedo L.

The strawberry tree is an evergreen shrub (height 1.5-3 m), common in the Mediterranean Basin found in moist, wind-protected areas, in light and fertile soils, in forest edges and in limestone areas. The bark is rough, dull brown and exfoliating. Leaves are oval or lanceolate, bare, shiny and dark green, with short petiole and jagged edges. The flowers are white or pink shaded, bell shaped, in dense inflorescences. The fruit is spherical, fleshy and edible berry (diameter 1.5-2.0 cm), originally yellow-green and dark red when ripe, with a rough and granular surface.

Pinus peuce Grieseb.

Pinus peuce is an endemic pine species of the southern Balkan peninsula. Apart from Greece, it occurs in South Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, FYROM and Bulgaria, where it forms pure or mixed stands with other conifers and broadleaved species. In our country it meets the southernmost part of its distribution, occurring in isolated locations of the northern border in Macedonia and Thrace. It grows in the montane zone, at altitudes up to 1700 m, avoiding limestone soils. It usually reaches a height of 30-35 m, but individuals that reach 42 m have been reported.

Taxus baccata L.

Evergreen tree or shrub with a height up to 20 m. Flowering takes place in March-April and seed ripening in September-November. It occurs at deciduous forests, on limestone, at altitudes from 600 to 1800 m, in small groups or individuals. It is found sporadically in the mainland, Evia and Thasos. The species is distributed in W. and C. Europe, the Caucasus and Iran. All pats of the plant, except for the fleshy fruit coat are poisonous for animals, particularly seeds.

Abies cephalonica Loudon

Endemic Greek tree extending from Kefalonia to Evvoia, the Peloponnese and Sterea Ellas (northern to Olympos mountain and Athos, it forms a hybrid with Α. alba Miller, A. borisii-regis Mattf).It occurs in pure or mixed stands (with Pinus nigra), at altitudes (600)900-1800(1900) m, at montane or semi-montane slopes, on deep, fertile soil, onflysch and limestone. Tree height 15-30 m, monoecious, masting every (2) 3-4 years. The fruits are erect, cylindrical cones that contain up to 300 seeds. Flowering occurs May-June and seed dispersal September-October.

Centaurea immanuelis-loewii Degen

Centaurea immanuelis-loewii is a perennial herb that grows in dry stony meadows, mostly on silicate substrate of southern-southwestern exposure. It is 30-50 cm tall and flowers during June and July. The taxon is a Balkan endemic, occurring in seven localities in southwestern Bulgaria and in eight localities in northern Greece. The populations are extremely fragmented in both countries; however they are relatively stable. Human activities, such as road works, as well as extensive grazing by sheep and goat herds present the highest pressure to its habitat.

Campanula oreadum Boiss. & Heldr.

Campanula oreadum is a perennial chasmophytic species. The species is local endemic to Olympus mountain, where it occurs in rock crevices, at altitudes 1800-2900 m, occasionally at lower altitudes, c. 1200 m, in ravines, on limestone. Flowering takes place from end of June to mid-September. Campanula oreadum is one of the 50 greek endemic species of the Campanulaceae family, which comprises 98 species in total in Greece.

Centranthus sieberi Heldr.

Centranthus sieberi is a local endemic species of the higher altitudes of the Lefka Ori massif in W. Crete, being a distinctive element of the local endemic flora which colors the numerous bare and wild slopes of Madara (as the local people call the Lefka Ori massif). It grows among stony ground, on screes and on rock crevices at altitudes between 1800 and 2300 m. The flowering period is between June and July.