Nature Notes - The Mallorca Pages

Monocotyledons other than Orchidaceae and Liliaceae

Posidonia oceanica
Green leaves c 7 mm across

Posidonia oceanica = Posidonia

Tamus communis

Tamus communis = Black Bryony

Posidonia is a flowering plant that grows on the sea-bed, and broken off pieces get washed up on the shore, rather like with Eelgrass here, but whereas we normally just see a few strands of Eelgrass among great masses of seaweed on the strandline, Mallorcan beaches often have strandlines made up almost entirely of Posidonia.  All the plant material in the picture is Posidonia - fresh green leaves, old brown leaves, and stem base with fibrous sheath remains.

Black Bryony was a frequent climber in the woods, with a similar habit to Sarsaparilla, and often growing with it so that the two twined round each other.  The leaves are arrow-shaped with large basal lobes, and it was just about to flower at the time I was there.  The white flowers and dark blotchy leaves in the picture are Balearic Cyclamen, and the plant with leaves in whorls is of the Goosegrass family, probably Wild Madder.

Arum italicum
Height c 15 cm

Arum italicum = Italian Arum
  Arisarum vulgare
Spathe c 4.0 cm tall

Arisarum vulgare = Friar's Cowl

Two of Mallorca's four members of the Arum family here.  Arum leaves without flowers were frequent but could not be identified between A italicum and A pictum; the spathe shown however is definitely A italicum.  The leaves die down around flowering time and this one had no leaves remaining at all.  Friar's Cowl was quite frequent on bare ground, usually in shade.  The fourth species, Dracunculus muscivorus, is even stranger than these, but I did not see it.

Gladiolus - unknown species
Flower c 3.3 cm across at widest

Gladiolus - unknown species
  Juncus acutus ssp acutus
c 2.1 cm = stem L edge to furthest R fl tip

Juncus acutus ssp acutus = Sharp Rush

These wild Gladioli were quite frequent on roadsides.  There are three very similar species, notoriously hard to tell apart, and I was certainly unable to do so.

I only recall seeing a rush on one occasion, that was the Sharp Rush shown above, in a 100 cm tall tuft by a forest track near the coast.

Brachypodium retusum
Height of picture = c 7.6 cm

Brachypodium retusum = Mediterranean False-Brome
  Ampelodesmos mauritanica
Plant c 210 cm high

Ampelodesmos mauritanica
(previous year's panicles)

It was not the right time of year for grasses, and I was only able to positively identify three, apart from species known from Britain.  The latter included Annual Meadow-grass (Poa annua), which was a common weed of paths and gardens, and Wall Barley (Hordeum murinum), but I didn't bother photographing these.

In general Mallorcan grasses seem far more diverse than their British equivalents, and even from looking at the pictures in the book one can see that, at the right time of year, it will be easier to tell them apart than the endless pages of almost identical species in the British books.  Mediterranean False-Brome is one striking example; the leaves are short, numerous all the way up the stem, and held horizontally.  It is the dominant field layer in some woods.  Ampelodopsis mauritanica is easy to recognise due to its huge size; its tussocks are very common on roadsides and in abandoned fields etc.

Hyparrhenia hirta

Hyparrhenia hirta
(previous year's spikes)
  Scirpoides holoschoenus
Height of inflorescence = c 4.8 cm

Scirpoides holoschoenus
= Round-headed Club-rush

The third identifiable grass was Hyparrhenia hirta, with its spikes in V-shaped pairs.  Very common on roadsides.  The Round-headed Club-rush, a sedge, was on the edge of a dry river bed, a clump with stems up to 240 cm tall.  The only other sedge I saw was a medium-sized tufted Carex species (or possibly more than one species) which grew in odd spots in woods.  Though Mallorca only has 10 Carex sp, I was not able to identify it as the fruits had not yet formed, and my attempted pictures are not worth including.

Apr-May 2005 Grasses

Apr-May 2005 Other monocots