Monday, 16 March 2009

Floral tribute

Walking around the highways and byways of the Costa Brava, we were presented with a lovely display of spring flowers. Many of which can be found in Britain but which are a little more advanced this far south. Among the most abundant are these delicate little white flowers called Ramping fumitory Fumaria capreolata.Despite the appearance of this flower, its scrambling habit and leaf-shape, it is actually closely related to poppies. Another familiar flower growing wild around the area was one which will be well known to gardeners in Britain - the Grape Hyacinth Muscari neglectum.

The uppermost flowers of the spike in this species are, in fact sterile and restricted to a few small violet-blue 'blobs' and appear to be unopened flowers. The true flowers are the dark blue ones at the bottom of the spike with a ring of white teeth around them. Among the common summer bedding plants to be found in British gardens, one can often find Snapdragons - every child's favourites - Antirrhinum majus. These too could be found all around the countryside of the Costa Brava.

Next time you tuck in to your dinner and struggle to keep your peas on your fork, imagine, if you will, that these small, sweet vegetables are derived from the Wild Pea Pisum sativum. These too can be found growing wild in the area.Perhaps it should also be remembered that there is evidence from China and India that oil from the seeds of these wild plants have a contraceptive effect in both men and women!

Stately and architectural in nature the last flower for now has to be the Verbascum - Verbascum Sinuatum. Standing up to 5ft high and with brilliantly yellow flowers clinging to the upright stems covered in greyish woolly hairs, they almost glow in the sunshine.

Close up, the flowers are quite gorgeous!The leaves of these plants have soothing and expectorant properties and are used to treat rasping coughs. They were also used in herbal tobacco.
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