It's been very hot of late. Unseasonably hot. As it has been around Europe.
That's not great for our usual display of plants, birds and butterflies, who are affected by less water than they'd expect. Still, many of our plant highlights are found on dry limestone.
Achillea holosericea Sm.
A perennial herb 20-50 cm tall, with silvery-sericeous leaves divided into sub-obtuse lobes. The capitula are usually 20-50, in a dense, compound corymb. The ligules are 1.5-3 mm long, sub-orbicular and golden yellow. It is a Balkan endemic occurring from Peloponnisos to Kosovo.
Buglossoides purpurocaerulea (L.) I. M. Johnst.
A rhizomatous perennial with long, scrambling non-flowering shoots and sub-erect flowering stems 20-50 cm tall. The flowers are purple when young, turning bright marine blue. The ovoid, whitish nutlets often remain on the plant until the following year. This species occurs in deciduous woodland throughout the Greek mainland.
Erodium absinthoides Willd.
A perennial herb with much dissected, more or less silvery-sericeous leaves and pink flowers. It is not uncommon on open, rocky limestone slopes in the Prespa area from the level of the lakes up to c. 1500 m. Plants in our area are referable to subsp. guicciardii (Heldr.) Maire & Petitm.
Geranium reflexum L.
A characteristic species with strongly deflexed, dark bluish-purple petals. It grows in damp, shady places in deciduous forest and along streams at 1000-1800 m. It occurs in the Balkans southwards to Sterea Ellas and also in Italy.
Albanian lily - Lilium albanicum Griseb.
This is the smallest of the four Lilium species in Greek Prespa, where it is locally fairly common on Mt Varnous in meadows at altitudes of 1800-2100 m. It is restricted to a rather small area in mountains of the western Balkan Peninsula, generally at high altitude. Greek plants have deep yellow flowers, in Albania they may also be orange or red.
Orchis purpurea Huds.
This is one of the largest and most showy of the Greek orchids. It is widespread in Europe and the western half of Anatolia. In Greece it is scattered in the north, usually in open deciduous oak woodland and meadows at moderate altitude.
Salvia argentea L.
This attractive, short-lived perennial is scattered on the Greek mainland, Peloponnisos and some of the Aegean islands. It is not uncommon in Prespa where it grows in dry meadows and on open, rocky limestone slopes at 860-1400 m. The hooked upper lip of the corolla is white with purple spots (actually short hairs).
Verbascum epixanthinum Boiss. & Heldr.
This is a biennial or short-lived perennial generally 25-80 cm tall, occurring from Mt Taigetos to the northern borders of Greece, probably extending into Albania and FYROM. It is generally found on rocky limestone slopes at high altitude, in the Prespa area on Mt Triklario at 1500-1700 m and perhaps elsewhere. It has entire leaves, glandular-pubescent inflorescence axis and purple filament hairs.
Thanks to Prof. Arne Strid for the texts and all photos.