North Cyprus
Today is Tuesday, 12th December 2017

North Cyprus Wildflowers

Asphodels

The two asphodel plants that grow here are the very common asphodelus aestivus which grows everywhere in any type of ground from sea level to mountain top, and the small and delicate, much rarer hollow stemmed asphodel (asphodelus fistulosus). The former makes its presence known by its strong and pungent aroma, which smells strongly of cat’s urine. It may be because of this rather unpleasant smell that the plant is enidible among livestock.
The latter plant is not so easily found but can be seen at Othello's Tower in Famagusta growing in the courtyard, the south-west tower and on the top of the citedel walls.
Both asphodels have white folwers growing in a conical spear at the top of tall straight stems, the asphodelus aestivus growing to a height of 40 inches (1m) and the asphodelus fistulosus grow to appoximately 6 inches (15cm). The leaves of the former are lancelike and of the latter hollow like the culinary chive.

Autumn

Come the late summer and into early autumn, few flowers can survive the burning heat, but the solitary tall stem, topped with a white spear of flowers that seemingly grow straight out of the bare earth is that of the sea squill (urginea maritime). The broad almost flat strap-like leaves appear in spring from the bulb underground and these die back before the single flower stem comes into bloom. The bulb of this plant have been used since Pliny's time for the manifacture of medicine to treat such diverse ailments as coughs and heart disease.

From September onwards the autumn flowers start to appear. The Cyprus cyclamen, (cyclamen cyprium) which will continue flowering until the end of January, can be found among the trees near the mountain castles. Usually it prefers a shady habitat. The autumn squill which grows from a leafless bulb until flowering has finished, has a stem, approximately 2.75 inches (7cm), that produces a small cluster of pink/violet flowers. It likes a dry habitat and rocky hillsides. The romulea (romulea tempskyana) resembles a small crocus, it grows from a corm and has dark purple petels with an orange centre. They have a fairly varied habitat and therefore are widespread, certainly among the hillsides of the Besparmak mountains and on the roadsides all along the forest tracks. It can be seen from December to April.

Crown Daisy

Vast expanses of vey dark yellow proclain the presence of the crown daisy (chrysanthemum coronarium) growing on the Intermingling with the wild chrysanthemum will be found the field marigold (calendula arvensis), scabious (scabiosa prolifera) with its multiple branches bearing creamy-white flowers that look like small pincushions, and the tassel hyacinph (muscari komosum) not to be confused with similar grape hyacinph (bellevalia trifoliata).

Everlasting Sungold

Growing more on waste ground and very barren land will be found the everlasting sungold (helichrysum conglobatum), which like many of the helichrysum family retains its wondeful colours for months, and the rather unattractively named grecian fleabane (phagnalon rupestra).

Anchusa

Providing splashes of blue on the roadsides and on dry hills, the stately, feathery leafed anchusa (anchusa azurea) and the very much smaller, more attractive dark-blue of the anchusa undulata. It is easy at first glance to confuse the anchusa azurea with the Cyprus viper buglos (echuim plantageneum) though looking more closely it will be seen that the blue flower of the buglos is more bell-like in shape.

Ranunculus

There are beautiful ranunculus to be seen flowering from Februaury to May on the hillsides of the Besparmak range. The turban buttercup and Persian crowfoot (ranunculus asiaticus) growe in a variety of coulours from pale cream to yellow; white flashed with red and deep dark scarlet. These are not to be confused with anemones which will be found in the same habitat.

Giant Fennel

The giant fennel (ferula communis) is another of those plants inedible to man or beast and therefore grows rampantly unchecked. It is unmissable, as the flower steams topped with many heads of bright yellow flowers grow to a height in excess of 6.5 feet (2m). Local florists use the feathery leaf in their flower arrangements and in ancient time the dry stems were used as tinder.

Black Tulip and Corn Flag

Less easy to find is the black tulip (tulipa cypria) not truly black but very, very dark red and to be found mostly in cornfields where it dwells side by side with the common corn flag (gladiolus italicus) a pink wild gladioli which the local children will pick and sell in bunches at the roadside.

Arabian and Cyprus Sun Roses

North Cyprus - Woodcock Flower

Two yellow flowers both with papery thin petals which often grow together and are sometimes mistaken one for the other are the Arabian sun rose (fumana arabica) and yellow Cyprus sun rose (endemic) (helianthemum obtusifoluim). They favor the same habitat of dry rocky places and flower from February to May.
Orchid types to be found include: the ploughshare orchid (serapias vomeracea); eastern `cock orchid (ophrys umbilicata); naked man orchid (orchis italica). All the above are fairly widespread and have a flowering season from February to May.

Anemones

Then come the anemones (anemone coronaria) and a swathe of these flowers in every colour from white to pink, to red, to darkest purple, is one of the most remarkable and memorable sights to behold. One of the best places to see this is in the valley on the southern side of the Five Finger (Besparmak) Mountain.

Mandrake

The beautiful mandrake (mandragora officinarium) has a widespread habitat and can be easily found beside the paths that wind upwards through St Hilarion Castle and on waste ground and roadsides. Instantly recognized by its low-to-the-ground and growth of broad leaves which are coarse and have a strong central rib. From the rosette of leaves grows a cluster of blue to purple flowers, which turn into an orange ovoid fruit. (This is not edible and should be avoided, as the mandrake is one of the many poisonous plants that grow on Cyprus).

Spring

Real spring colour comes with a profusion of the yellow flowering plants which can be seen everywhere. The first hint of spring sunshine is produced by the oxalis, seen in the olive groves and the citrus orchards, and in any flowerbed that has not been kept weedfree during winter.

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