Nature Notes - The Mallorca Pages

Asteriflorae - Compositae

Composites, the Daisy family, have flowerheads made up of many small individual flowers, and are abundant all over the world.  Mallorca has about 130 species.

Bellis annua
Flowerhead c 20 mm across
  Phagnalon saxatile
Flowerhead c 10 mm across
  Anthemis arvensis
Flowerhead c 3.4 cm across

Annual Daisy, Bellis annua (above left), is the only one I saw out of the 3 Mallorcan species closely related to our own Daisy.  It is a low-growing plant very similar to our Daisy but has leaves on the stem, as can be seen in the picture, whereas ours has leafless stems.  Phagnalon saxatile is a low bushy shrub with grey-green linear leaves, common in dry bare places.  The centre pic shows its flower.  On the right is Corn Chamomile, Anthemis arvensis, a plant similar to our Mayweeds.  It is said to be  common in Mallorca but this was the only specimen I spotted, as it was a bit early for it to be in flower.

Chrysanthemum coronarium
Flowerhead c 4.2 cm across
  Chrysanthemum coronarium

The Crown Daisy, Chrysanthemum coronarium, comes in two colour forms, all-yellow, and yellow and white.  The all-yellow ones look very similar to our own Corn Marigold.

Artemisia arborescens   Senecio - unknown sp
LH flowerhead c 6.5 mm across

Above left is a branch of Shrubby Wormwood, Artemisia arborescens, a 2m tall shrub.  Thanks to Chris Yeates for confirming this ID.

Groundsel, Senecio vulgaris, was common in crevices or pockets of soil on natural rock outcrops in woods, unlike in Skye where it only seems to occur in human-made "rock" outcrops such as pavements and wall edges.  I didn't bother to photograph it in Mallorca.  The plant in the above right picture is not Groundsel, but an unknown relative which does not appear to be in either Dr Beckett's Mallorca flora nor the Balearic flora website.  Description: Outer involucral bracts very few and very short, with tips slightly darker but not black.  Inner bracts uniform in length (c 1 cm) and brown-tipped.  Stem glandular-hairy.  Plant 13 cm high.  Leaves simple, toothed, purple below, with spreading hairs both sides.  Only one specimen found, in leafmouldy soil at base of tree among rocks, probably most of the time in shade.  Reasons S vulgaris ruled out: Leaves too hairy and not deeply enough divided, stem has gland hairs, outer bracts too short and not black-tipped, flowerheads not clustered together.  The presence of ray florets does not in itself rule out S vulgaris but is further evidence against it, as the many S vulgaris that I saw in the locality did not have these.  S viscosus, which has a dubious record for Minorca and none for Mallorca, seems to be ruled out since it has outer bracts half the length of the inner ones.

Calendula arvensis
Flowerhead c 11 mm diameter
  Carlina corymbosa
Flowerhead including bracts c 9 cm across

The Field Marigold, Calendula arvensis, is very similar to the garden Pot Marigold but with smaller flowers.  Found occasionally on walls and edges of cultivated land.  On the right is an overwintering dead flowerhead of Flat-topped Carline Thistle, Carlina corymbosa, a common roadside plant.

Galactites tomentosa   Urospermum dalechampii
LH flowerhead c 6 cm across

The spectacular thistle Galactites tomentosa was very common on roadsides.  Its variegated leaves are as striking as its flowers.  Another showy composite was Urospermum dalechampii whose pale yellow ray-florets have black tips and red-striped undersides.

Hyoseris radiata   Hyoseris radiata   Hyoseris scabra

Now we come to the Dandelion-like flowers which take up so many pages in both the British and Mallorcan books.  Hyoseris radiata (left) is a perennial about the size of our Catsears or Hawkweeds, whose leaves (centre) have overlapping backward-pointing leaflets.  Its relative, Hyoseris scabra (right) is very different, being a prostrate annual with only about 5-6 broad florets.  I only found this in one place and did not manage a good picture of it.  There were no fully-open flowerheads; the one in the picture has 2 of its 5 florets extended.  The leaves are divided similarly to H radiata but the leaflets do not overlap.

Leontodon tuberosus
Flowerhead c 3 cm across
  Crepis vesicaria ssp vesicaria

The one on the left above I take to be Leontodon tuberosus, though there are two problems with this.  Firstly, L t is supposed to have the outer florets with a green stripe beneath, whereas this species had them a maroon colour, although they were green in the unopened buds.  Secondly, L t is supposed to be "occasional", while this was common.  Still, I don't see what else it can be.  On the right we have Beaked Hawksbeard or Crepis vesicaria ssp vesicaria, which was growing in bare soil on a roadside bank.

Sonchus oleraceus   Sonchus tenerrimus
Flowerhead c 3.7 cm across
  Sonchus tenerrimus

Finally a couple of Sow-thistles.  The one on the left is, incredibly enough, the familiar Smooth Sow-thistle, Sonchus oleraceus.  I had never seen a flowerhead like this on it, though since returning to the UK I have, once, seen a flowerhead of it opening in the same spiral fashion, but without the two-tone colouration, which most Mallorcan specimens also lacked.  Both it and Sonchus tenerrimus (centre and right) were common.  S tenerrimus has typical sow-thistle type flowerheads, but the leaves are rather natty and make it instantly recognisable.  It was probably the commonest of all the Dandelion-type flowers at that time of year.

Apr-May 2005 Compositae