Nature Notes - Mallorca 2005
Rosiflorae (other than legumes)
Last year I showed the leaf-rosette of Salad burnet (Sanguisorba minor), but this time it was in flower.
The short Bramble shoots poking up through pine needles were intriguing. There are only two kinds on Mallorca: Rubus caesius (Dewberry) and R ulmifolius (Pink-flowered Blackberry). This doesn't fit either of them. It could conceivably be their hybrid, but the hairy stems make this unlikely. This was the only occasion on either visit that I saw any Rubus species.
Thought I was back in Scotland looking at a Rowan with leaves galled by Eriophyes sorbi. In fact the Rowan does not occur in Mallorca and this is the very similar Service Tree (Sorbus domestica) which was introduced into Mallorca for its edible fruit and has spread into the wild. I don't know if the galler is Eriophyes sorbi or a related mite. It is not given for S domestica in Britain, but that's a very rare tree in this country. E sorbi does gall a number of Sorbus species but I can't find any reference to it or any other gall on S domestica.
Creeping Cinquefoil (Potentilla reptans) was another member of the Rose family seen, but no photo as it is common in Britain.
This is Thick-leaved Stonecrop (Sedum dasyphyllum) on a wall in a pinewood. The LH pic shows its habit and the RH pic its hairy leaves. I didn't see it in flower. The commoner Sedum sediforme was much in evidence, as last year, but that wasn't flowering either. Both of them flower through the main summer months when most vegetation in Mallorca is brown and withered.
The dark green bush with dead flowerheads is Daphne gnidium, which I only saw in one place. The red berry in the RH pic is the fruit of Osyris alba, which we saw the flowers of last time.
This is something I was very keen to see on both first and second visits, but I only found it once, late on in the second visit. Cytinus ruber, a parasite on the roots of Cistus, that has no need of leaves or stems, and flowers directly from the ground. The creamy-white flower-buds have yet to open on this one.
Yellow Flax (Linum trigynum) is a small annual that I found on a bare path.
The Euphorbia pithyusa that I showed last year will have been subspecies cupanii, as it was inland. This one is on the shore and so will be subspecies pithyusa. It forms neat clumps of numerous parallel branches. A close-up of the flower at their tip is on the right.
Last year I think I only found one plant of Tree Spurge (Euphorbia dendroides), which had strayed onto a forest track. That's because I hadn't been looking in the right habitat. It's quite a dominant plant on rocky slopes down to the sea on the north coast. It has so many photogenic aspects I could have included any number of pictures. In the first pic it's the yellowish dome-shaped plant on both sides of the wall, with various larger bushes and trees growing through it. It is also the out-of-focus plant in the foreground along the bottom of the picture. The second pic shows one where most of the leaves, and some of the flowers, have turned red.
We had Euphorbia serrata last time as well but I can't resist an even closer view of its vivid yellow bracts and complex inflorescence. Each flower cluster is surrounded by 4 glands - the rather dingy yellow objects slightly notched on the outward side. The cluster itself contains several male flowers with one stamen each, and a single stalked female flower, seen here with the ovary developing into a young fruit with 3 styles at its tip. These flowers have no petals or sepals, so I don't know really why the whole cluster can't be called a single many-stamened 3-styled flower.
Each flower cluster and its surrounding glands are cupped in a pair of bracts. The large pair which almost fill the picture have one flower cluster in their centre, together with two very short branches each terminating in a further pair of bracts with flower clusters at their centres in turn. The pattern of repeated dichotomous branching is common in Spurges. Often the initial branching is a radial group of 3,4,5 or more, but further up the branching is normally in two's.
Euphorbia terracina, in the RH pic, was a new species to me this time round, and has orange glands with long yellowish "horns". The purplish fruits are more developed here, made up of 3 bulging segments, but still retain the 3 styles at their tip.
I found Rue a few times but it was not yet flowering, and the only plant I could identify to species level was the one in the picture whose inflorescence is beginning to emerge. It's Ruta chalepensis ssp angustifolia. The scent of this plant is remarkable - I could think of nothing to compare it with and could find no words to convey its character. I tried it on other (British) people and they agreed. I can't, now, remember at all what it was like, simply because there was no existing concept in my mind to cross-reference it to. Looking on the web, the first site I come to says it has an extremely pleasant orange-like scent, and the second says it has a bitter acrid scent. Well, there you go.
Spurge Olive (Cneorum tricoccon) is an evergreen shrub belonging to a family with just 3 species worldwide. It has 3 sepals, 3 petals, 3 stamens, 3 carpels and 3 styles.
Together with Gum Mastic, shown last time, the Rue and the Spurge Olive belong to an order known as the Sapindales, whose only British native member is the Field Maple but which also includes the familiar Sycamore and Horse Chestnut.
Ivy was quite common, the same species as we have here.
A couple of umbellifers known also from English shores, neither in flower at this time. Sea Holly and Rock Samphire.
Great Pignut is a more typical umbellifer, but it's the only one from either Mallorca visit that I hadn't seen before in Britain.
March 2004 Rosiflorae 1 March 2004 Rosiflorae 2
All photos and other content copyright © Carl Farmer