3 Jul 2011

June in Bloom

Welcome to La Baguette's latest feature: 'A Month in Bloom', which debuted in our February edition. At the end of each month, this blog will showcase a gallery of floral blossoms of the wild order encountered during that month on random walks around my current base in Northern Corsica.

Fluttering heights: Scabiosa
There's no two ways about it: the heat is on! Predictably Summer has landed before its due date and temperatures have been high, verging on the unbearable (last week of June), consistent with high humidity levels along the shoreline, otherwise typical of August.

The dry climate has had a direct effect on the landscape, with exposed expanses of grassland turning dry and yellow and crackling underfoot like straw. A small number of bush fires were even reported further South down the island.

A buzz in the kitchen: Oregano
Vegetation growth has slowed down, except for climbers (wild Clematis and Ivy) and Bramble that are thriving regardless of temperature highs and water scarcity.

Already blooms and blossoms are less dramatic than back in April or May. Having said that, amongst those more modest and contained flowers, let us mention Scabiosa, Vicia, Bindweed, Thistle, Echium vulgare and Oregano. The second half of June saw the much-anticipated Myrtle stand out in the dense maquis as it came out in splashes of white. Its virginal sprays used to be worn by Corsican brides on their big day. Nowadays myrtle is more likely to find its way down the Corsican spirits route as 'alcool de myrte'.

What a feeling: Ecballium elaterium
In the yellow flower department, we'll note Fennel (Anethum foeniculum L., also referred to as 'Finochjiu' in Corsican), and also the singular Ecballium elaterium. The latter is remarkable as far as its propagating ways are concerned: rampant stems produce a simple flower followed by a (non-edible) gherkin packed-full with seeds that shoots up in the air once ripe... Just make sure you don't stand in the way!

All in all, it looks like the maquis flower show has now reached its pinnacle for the year, but before the botanist's wows and ahhs subside in the background, there will still be one or two surprises in store, sure to delight us in their own special way, amongst which the Helichrysum italicum, so join us next month to find out more!

So fresh: Common Mallow (Malva neglecta)
A familiar sight: Wild Carrot (Daucus carota)
Making a colour splash: Achillea
On the rampage: Rubia peregrina

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