Nature Notes - Mallorca 2005

Monocots other than Grasses or Orchids

Urginea maritima   Smilax aspera ssp balearica

The Lily family got a page to itself last time, but I only saw one new species this time, the so-called Sea Onion (Urginea maritima) which was common in bare shady places in the hills.  The one shown is a small specimen but has the bulb unusually visible.  This plant is 26 cm high from the ground, but most were much higher, and when they are in flower they are far higher still, but that happens in the autumn, so all I saw were these clumps of giant leaves.  Actually I think I saw lots of these last time around but could not identify them owing to thinking Sea Onion was a coastal plant.

Sarsaparilla (Smilax aspera) was frequently met with last time as a climbing and trailing plant which bars your path in the woods.  It has a very different form on exposed coastal cliffs where it forms dense tangled cushions of leafless spiny stems.  Part of one of these is shown above.  This form is called subspecies balearica and is endemic to the Balearics.  (The flower in the picture is Reichardia picroides of the Daisy family)

Allium roseum   Chamaerops humilis

As there are no new flowers from the Lily family to show, here is a close-up of one we had last year, Rosy Garlic (Allium roseum).  It was only met with a few times in March 2004, but by late April it had become very plentiful, often with white flowers, which had me rather confused for a while.  Mallorca has about 15 Allium species but I didn't see any except this one and the equally common A triquetrum (shown last time).  Rosy Garlic can be identified, regardless of petal colour, by the following combination of characters: Stems rounded (not three-cornered), flowers opening reasonably wide as shown (not narrow and bell-like, nor flat and star-like), stamens bright orange (not dull orange or brownish) and shorter than petals.

Next is the Dwarf Fan Palm, quite frequent in woods and heathery ground near the coast (and also in the hills, though I didn't see it there).  It is Mallorca's only native Palm species and grows to about 2 m high at most.  Normally there is no trunk and the flowers and leaves form at the top of the rootstock.  It also occurs on the Spanish mainland and in Italy.  The only other native European palm is a rare kind found in Crete.

Gladiolus illyricus   Pancratium maritimum

Last year I was unable to tell the wild Gladiolus species apart, but I'm confident that this one is Gladiolus illyricus, owing to the winged seeds, among other things.  The rubbery leaves on the beach belong to Sea Daffodil, Pancratium maritimum, which flowers in September.

Carex hallerana   Carex distachya

I failed to identify any Carex sedges last time but managed three this year.  The first is Carex hallerana, a small tufted species which has a female spike on a long slender floppy stalk from the base of the plant (not shown) as well as those in their normal position beneath the male spike as shown in the picture.  The second is Carex distachya, which has all flower spikes male for most of their length with a few female flowers at the base of each.  The third was Carex flacca which is common in Britain and is not shown here.

Scirpoides holoschoenus   Typha dominguensis

Also belonging to the sedge family is Round-headed Club-rush, which I showed last time but this is a much better picture.  I also found stands of Black Bog Rush (Schoenus nigricans) in the Albufera wetlands, growing much taller than it does in Britain, but didn't photograph it.

The second picture is Southern Reedmace, Typha dominguensis, whose long cylindrical spikes contain tens of thousands of tightly-packed flowers, and open from the top to disperse the feathery fruits.  Mallorca also has the Greater Reedmace (T latifolia) that we have in Britain.

Mystery plant - garden escape?

Finally, this is presumably a garden escape.  It has iris-like leaves and was on a roadside, not particularly close to any gardens.  Just wondering if anyone knows what it is?

March 2004 Other Monocots

March 2004 Liliaceae


All photos and other content copyright Carl Farmer