Nature Notes - The Mallorca Pages

Asteriflorae - Scrophulariales to Dipsacales

Fraxinus angustifolia   Olea europaea

The Narrow-leaved Ash, Fraxinus angustifolia, lines the banks of rivers.  It is similar to our own Ash but has the buds brown instead of black.  On the right is the Olive, which belongs to the same family.  It is not known whether the Olive is native to Mallorca.  It is of course much cultivated, and most specimens found in the wild are either relics of past cultivation or self-sown from cultivated stock.  The one in the picture is almost all dead wood but had a few live branches.

Misopates orontium
Flower c 11 mm high
  Veronica cymbalaria
Flower c 7.5 mm wide

Moving onto the Figwort family, Weasel's Snout or Misopates orontium was a frequent roadside annual.  The white-flowered Speedwell, Veronica cymbalaria, grows on walls with a similar habit to Ivy-leaved Toadflax.  The leaves are also similar and the Speedwell is presumably named after the Toadflax (=Cymbalaria).  Two common British annual Veronicas, Common Field Speedwell (V persica) and Wall Speedwell (V arvensis) were also found but are not shown here.

Sibthorpia africana
Flower c 7.5 mm across
  Rubia peregrina
Both lower leaves of 4 on mid-left c 2.7 cm long

Sibthorpia africana is an upland creeping plant of damp shady places.  It is endemic to the Balearics.  The yellow flowers normally have 5 petals but the only open one I could find had 4.  All the petals are the same size and shape, unusually for the Scrophulariaceae.

At least 5 members of the Rubiaceae were found.  One was Goosegrass, Galium aparine, common in Britain and not shown here.  Looking like a robust Goosegrass was the evergreen woody climber Wild Madder, Rubia peregrina, above right, which was very common trailing down over walls.  It was not in flower or fruit at this time.

Valantia muralis
Picture c 2 cm wide
  Galium murale
Centre leaf whorl c 3.5 mm wide
  Sherardia arvensis
Lower leaf whorl c 13 mm wide

Two very small Rubiaceae now.  The first is either Valantia hispida or V muralis.  I've almost gone round the bend trying to work out what the books mean by the various features of the fruit and its enclosure in these two species.  I probably found both species, but I'm pretty sure the one in the picture is V muralis as it has hairless stems.  (Later: this is now confirmed as V muralis).  I'm not confident enough to show another picture separately and claim it as V hispida.  Instead, the second picture is an even smaller species, Galium murale, a Bedstraw whose stems flower and fruit before they're a couple of cm off the ground.  The fruit is elongated compared to other Galium species.  It was on an old stump with cup lichen (Cladonia sp?) and had similar habit and size to the lichen.

The third picture can only be Field Madder, Sherardia arvensis, although all the specimens I found of it had blue flowers rather than the usual pink, and I wrestled for a long time with the possibility of Asperula arvensis, but I think I have now ruled it out.

Centranthus calcitrapa
Plant c 7 cm high
  Centranthus calcitrapa

A very attractive little rock plant was Centranthus calcitrapa, of the genus known in this country for the much larger Red Valerian (C ruber).  The flowers are notable for having just one stamen, as you can see in the close-up.  The shorter object in the middle is the style.  The flowers have a large "top" petal, two side petals and two smaller ones at the "bottom", but they are all flat and the "tops" do not point in any consistent direction.  The plant also grows on the top of walls.

Lonicera implexa
Central circular bract c 25 mm wide
  Scabiosa maritima

The local honeysuckle Lonicera implexa was common in woods and was just coming into flower while I was there.  The upper pairs of leaves are joined around the stem.  On the right is Scabiosa maritima which is a common roadside plant inland despite its Latin name.  It is said to flower from May onwards and this must be an exceptionally early flower; it was the only one I found.