July's Plant Highlights
July is upon us and the birdsong is falling away somewhat. But it's a great time for plants. Here are this month's plants to look out for.
Aldrovanda vesiculosa L.
A free floating aquatic plant, found at the outer edge of reed beds, with Nymphaea alba, Myriophyllum spicatum, Utricularia spp., etc. Like Utricularia it is a carnivorous species, trapping small animals in special, bladder-like leaf lobes. Lake Lesser Prespa is the only Greek locality for this species, which is generally rare in Europe, widespread but scattered in subtropical regions.
Butomus umbellatus L.
A robust, erect perennial up to 150 cm tall, growing in reed beds by the lakes. All leaves are basal and linear. The stem is tipped with an umbel of attractive, 6-merous, white or pinkish flowers, and the fruit is a whorl of follicles. This species is widespread in Europe, but not common in Greece where it is scattered on the mainland.
Centaurea graeca Boiss. & Spruner
A Balkan endemic with scattered localities in the C & N parts of the Greek mainland. In Greek Prespa it is found on rocky limestone slopes and road embankments at 860-1000 m, e.g., at Koula where it grows together with Cephalaria ambrosioides. It is a tall perennial with fairly large, ovoid capitula; the phyllaries have an appendix with a variously developed central spine.
Cirsium eriophorum Scop.
A robust, erect biennial 50-120 cm tall with strongly spinose leaves and subglobose capitula 30-45 mm in diameter and densely arachnoid-tomentose. This species is widespread in C & S Europe. In the Prespa area it is found on roadsides, in open scrub and damp meadows at 860-1200 m. Like many large thistles it is unpopular among collectors and the distribution is thus imperfectly known.
Dianthus stenopetalus Griseb.
A Balkan endemic scattered in N & C Greece with an isolated locality on Mt Parnonas (SE Peloponnisos). It is a short-lived perennial forming small tufts, with linear-setaceous leaves and small, dense capitula; the petals are small, linear-spathulate and deep carmine-purple.
Geranium subcaulescens L’Hér. ex DC.
This attractive, eastern Mediterranean mountain species is often cultivated in rock gardens. In the Prespa area it is not uncommon in meadows at high altitude (1800-2200 m) on Mt Varnous, and also scattered on the somewhat lower limestone mountains.
Lilium chalcedonicum L.
This attractive, scarlet lily is found in semi-shaded places in woodland at altitudes of 900-1400 m, generally over limestone. It occurs from Taigetos and Parnonas in the south to the borders of Albania and fYR* of Macedonia in the north. It is larger than L. albanicum and flowers later.
Lysimachia atropurpurea L.
This is a rhizomatous perennial 20-40 cm tall, occurring throughout the Greek mainland and on some of the larger islands. It often grows in clay on road embankments where it may be gregarious and is easily recognized on the long inflorescence, which is very dark and nodding when young.
Thanks to Prof. Arne Strid for the texts and all photos.