Nature Notes - Mallorca 2005
Caryophylliflorae and Dilleniiflorae
I always thought of Mesembryanthemums as South African plants, but there are two species native to Mallorca, and this is one of them. Unfortunately I didn't find it in flower, but the cylindrical leaves are striking enough, being covered with scale-like bladder cells for storing water, shown up close in the centre pic. It grows on sun-baked rock by the sea. The RH pic shows a bushier and greener plant. During its short life the plant accumulates a large amount of salt which is released onto the ground when it dies so as to inhibit the growth of other species while allowing its own seeds to germinate.
This plant of the same family really is from South Africa and is an unwanted invader in Mallorca. It's either Carpobrotus acinaciformis or C edulis var rubescens. There seems a lot of confusion between these two taxa, as well as possible hybridisation, so I'm not going to stick my neck out. Both are threats to native species on coastal sands.
Woody Sandwort (Rhodalsine geniculata) is a carpeting plant of the Pink family, rather like a Spurrey and in similar habitats. The red and white sepals are an attractive feature.
Bladder Campion was seen a few times along roadsides or woodland edge, but I didn't bother with a photo as it's familiar in Britain.
Tall thickets of shrubby Glassworts occur in saltmarshes. I suspect the one on the left is Sarcocornia fruticosa and the other one Arthrocnemum macrostachyum, but I can't make any sense of the supposed differences, and if the books and the UIB site are right then a lot of the pics on the web are wrong. I don't want to add to the confusion, so am refraining from labelling these.
Sea Beet was noted at one place on the coast, but as a common British plant I didn't take its photo.
The stems of Sea Knotgrass (Polygonum maritimum) sprawl along the sand, radiating from a central point, in typical Knotgrass fashion. This is a close-up of a semi-upright one showing the flowers, fruits (dark nuts inside the flower) and papery stipules. Like many Mallorcan plants it also grows on the south coast of England but is rare there and I had not seen it.
Balearic St John's Wort (Hypericum balearicum) is confined to the Balearic Islands and has its stronghold in the hills of Mallorca. It's a dense bush (this one was 5' high) with dark green crinkly leaves, and larger flowers than any of the British St John's Worts.
The Tree Mallow, Lavatera arborea, and the Small Tree Mallow, Lavatera cretica, which we had last year but this is a better pic. The latter is common along roadsides but the former is only found by the sea.
Leaves like strings of beads and flowers like candy - Annual Sea-heath (Frankenia pulverulenta). The second pic shows Hairy Sea-heath (Frankenia hirsuta).
I found all 3 of the Mallorcan Fumana species, as described in E Beckett's book, though they have since been split into 6, so the names here are used "sensu lato". First is Fumana ericoides, winding along a vertical road cutting. Then Fumana thymifolia, which forms bushy stands of upright stems.
Finally Fumana laevipes, growing on natural rock in partial shade. The two ubiquitous Cistus species (shown last year), which belong to the same family as Fumaria, were past their best in most places, but up in the hills were still in full bloom.
The white crucifer in the RH pic is Hoary Pepperwort (Lepidium draba), which is quite common in much of Britain though not found in Skye. It was growing on urban waste ground.
These were two of the most exciting finds of the trip - Arabis collina because the Beckett book said it was "rare in mountains", and Arabis verna (Spring Rockcress) simply because it's blue. One is used to garden Arabis species having variously coloured flowers, but in the wild one expects them, and indeed all small rock-loving crucifers, to be relentlessly white. They appeared after a long climb through dense forest with little to show for it, and were a delightful and intriguing surprise. They were in the same glade as the Small-flowered Buttercup, and Sibthorpia was also there.
Other crucifers seen this time but not last time were Sea Rocket (Cakile maritima), plentiful on the shore, and a common roadside weed that was probably Hedge Mustard (Sisymbrium officinale) though seemed rather on the small side. Both these are common in Britain.
Last year I only found blue-flowered Scarlet Pimpernel, but this time I found the red form on at least two occasions. The one on the left was part of a mixed population, consisting of blue-flowered plants with gland-edged petals and red-flowered plants with no glands or hairs on the petal margins. According to the books the red flowers should always have glandular margins, while the blue flowers can lack these if they are Anagallis foemina rather than A arvensis.
At any rate this flower is clearly Anagallis arvensis despite its lack of glands.
March 2004 Caryophylliflorae March 2004 Dilleniiflorae
All photos and other content copyright © Carl Farmer