Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Flower

Even though it is the middle of the winter, there are still some plants in flower around the Sierra Gelada. Here are just a few. Firstly a prickly little number known as Grey Asparagus (Asparagus horridus - also known as Asparagus stipularis). A close relative of the well-known and delicious vegetable, you wouldn't want to eat this spiky thing!
A medicinal plant next and one which you will have heard of. The Castor Oil Plant (Ricinus communis). Castor seed is the source of Castor Oil. The seeds contain up to 60% oil, rich in triglycerides, mainly ricinolein. The seed contains ricin, a toxin, which is also present in lower concentrations throughout the plant.
A member of the pea family now. A small-flowered and rather gorgeous plant called Coronilla minima. The name Coronilla means 'little crown' and refers to the crown-shaped arrangement of flowers on the ends of the stems.
A very common Mediterranean plant next, the Friar's Cowl (Arisarum vulgare). At just a few inches tall, these members of the Arum family of plants produce large patches of leaves and flowers during the winter months all over the place.
Lastly for today, an everlasting flower. We are all familiar with the papery, everlasting flowers found for sale in florists, well this is a smaller flowered relative of those. Helichrysum stoechas has small yellow flowers and grey, hairy leaves which hep conserve water in the hot summer weather. It also has a strong aroma of curry when the leaves are crushed, particularly when dried out.
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