April's plant highlights
The mountain tops still have snow on them, and it may well snow again, but it's getting warmer and early season flowers are poking through. Here's a round up of what to expect.
Anemone apennina L. subsp. blanda (Schott & Kotschy) Nyman
With irregularly tuberous rhizome and flowers varying from deep blue to almost white. This species in widespread in mainland Greece and in sub-Mediterranean parts of Europe, usually in semi-shaded habitats at moderate altitude and mostly on limestone.
Cornus mas L.
A deciduous shrub 2-4 m tall, with small yellow flowers appearing just before the leaves. The fruit is broadly cylindrical, 12-15 mm long, becoming red and cherry-like. The wood, known as krania (κρανειά), is hard and tough; straight-growing shoots are traditionally used for shepherds’ staffs. Jam and liqueur is produced from the fruits.
Helleborus odorus Waldst. & Kit. subsp. cyclophyllus (A. Braun) Maire & Petitm.
A robust perennial with digitately divided leaves and greenish, nodding flowers. It is found in meadows and open woodland; being poisonous it is avoided by grazing animals. H. cyclophyllus has often been regarded as a separate species but merges into H. odorus in the C Balkan Peninsula. Plants from Corfu (Kerkira) and northern mainland Greece are ± intermediate.
Narcissus poeticus L.
A bulbous plant forming small clumps. The flower are large, solitary and fragrant with snow-white perianth segments and a yellow corona. It is frequently cultivated as an ornamental, known as poet's daffodil.
Viola velutina Formánek
This is the most common violet at high and moderate altitude on Mt Varnous, Prespa, where it occurs both in yellow and violet forms, with occasional intermediates. It is often gregarious in damp gravel on embankments of forest roads, flowering from mid-April until June. The species is restricted to a small area in the central Balkans.