Thursday, 27 October 2011

Flower

Being autumn, there were, naturally, not very many plants in full bloom while we were in Portugal.  Having said that, we were still treated to some beautiful floral displays, both natural and cultivated.  The first was this rather scrubby shrub seen growing on the cliffs.  It is a Daphne gnidum, a native of Southern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.
Don't be fooled by the pretty flowers, it is a highly poisonous plant and contact with the sap can lead to dermatitis.  Next is a very common plant on dry, sandy soils all over the Western parts of Southern Europe.  Yellowish, papery flowers sit atop grey, hairy leaves and the whole plant smells strongly of Curry.  It is Helichrysum Stoechas or 'Stinking Everlasting'.  Touching and crushing the plant to smell the curry scent, can lead to you not getting rid of the smell from your fingers for many hours, as I have found to my cost!
Two cultivated plants next.  Almost everywhere you look, you will see Hibiscus plants.  They are planted as hedges and grown as specimen shrubs all over the place, but when you see them in full bloom, it's easy to see why.
Lastly, an invasive species, introduced as a garden plant from more tropical regions, the Lantana (Lantana camara) has become quite a problem in some areas.  For all that, it does produce some magnificent flowers of several different colours on the same plant.  They have another, greater benefit.  Their flowers are rich in nectar and so are highly prized by Bees, Butterflies and all manner of insects.  They're pleasing to the eye too.
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