Nature Notes - The Mallorca Pages


Spurges (Euphorbia sp) are very difficult to identify.  Mallorca has at least 23 species plus several other possibles, and I didn't have any scientific floras to look them up in, but had to rely on Beckett and Fitter plus, when I got home, any info in Stace and CTW for species that also occur in Britain.  Oh, and the web of course.  Any of the 6 spurges identified below may be wrong.

Euphorbia dendroides
Main umbel c 6 cm across
  Euphorbia serrata
Whole umbel c 6.5 cm across at widest

On the left is Tree Spurge, Euphorbia dendroides, the largest kind on the island.  Only found it in one place, beside a pinewood track near the sea.  The one on the right with the wavy-edged triangular bracts is Euphorbia serrata, a stunning plant found occasionally on roadsides.

Euphorbia peplus   Euphorbia segetalis or medicaginea
Picture c 5.3 cm wide

The small annual spurge on the left turned out to be the Petty Spurge, Euphorbia peplus, which is common in Britain.  On the right is Euphorbia segetalis (or possibly E medicaginea?) but the picture does not at all do it justice.  As I jotted on my notepad at the time, "Infl is v beaut pale lemon yellow-green, v brilliant & pure & shining".

Euphorbia pithyusa ssp cupanii
c 1.5 cm across both bracts incl mucros
  Euphorbia characias

On the left a flower from a much-branched glaucous perennial which I took to be Euphorbia pithyusa by a process of eliminating everything else.  It was on an abandoned cultivation terrace.  On the right is the commonest and most spectacular of the spurges that I met with, Mediterranean Spurge or Euphorbia characias.

Other Rosiflorae

Rhamnus alaternus
Top right flower c 6 mm across
  Polygala rupestris
Open flower c 6 mm vertically
  Polygala rupestris

Mediterranean Buckthorn, Rhamnus alaternus, was a frequent member of the woodland understory.  The Rock Milkwort, Polygala rupestris, was a great pleasure to find, for someone only familiar with the confusing British milkworts.  It was frequent on walls but in these pictures is on natural rock.  I thought the flower worth showing from both side and front views.

Pistachia lentiscus   Smyrnium olusatrum

Another frequent woodland shrub was the Mastic Tree, Pistachia lentiscus, whose resinous sap and oily fruits have a variety of uses.  Finally, the Umbellifers, of which I only found 2 species.  One was the Wild Carrot, well-known on Skye and not depicted here.  The other was Alexanders, Smyrnium oluastrum, a tall greenish-flowered Umbellifer which sometimes formed large pure stands along the roadsides.

Apr-May 2005 Rosiflorae