The middle of April is perhaps the best time for Corfu’s wild flowers.
The early flowers still linger; new ones are blooming; but none have yet been swamped by the last phase of flowering before the summer heat. Here is a list of the flowers spotted during Easter Week (actually from Saturday, 5th April to Friday, 18 April), with some random comments. They are listed by colour. Please note that in the week after Easter the mix may be quite different; some on this list will have finished flowering, and others not on the list will be in bloom.
Bugloss (Anchusa arvensis) – a lovely little flower of intense blueness.
Borage – flower and leaves are edible. Scatter flowers as garnish on a creamy potato and leek soup. Dip the leaves in a light flour and water batter and fry in olive oil until crisp. Serve at once.
Scarlet Pimpernel – No, it’s not in the wrong category: It’s a blue variety of the scarlet one; they are often found growing together.
Flax – The little wild precursor of the plant which gives linen (I wonder who first looked at it and thought: ‘Hey, I can make a bed-sheet out of that!’).
Bugle – In my vicinity, it grows in damp places under the olive trees.
Wood Sorrel (Oxalis)
Cranesbill – One of the dominant early flowers, it can carpet some plots so that no green shows through, with a particular liking for vineyards. There are several varieties.
Garden Pea – a wild variety with a large pink lip and deep purple centre.
Greek Sage (Salvia triloba) – The leaves are made into tea, and can also be advantageously used in cooking, especially with pork. Likes rocky soil.
Judas Tree – It’s in its prime now, before the leaves appear.
Naked Man Orchid (Orchis italica) – Examine the petals in close up and you’ll find out how it got its name!
Large Pink Cistus – It looks as if someone has pinned silk flowers (pink with a yellow centre) onto a rather nondescript bush.
Broad-leaved Anemone – Still a few left from their great flowering in March.
Rock Soapwort – Grows spectacularly on high ground.
Pink Hawksbeard (Crepis rubra) – My favourite!
Purple / Mauve
Scabious – A very handsome bloom structurally, but it suffers from possessing a wishy-washy colour.
Honesty – One of the first of the spring flowers and still going strong, with some of the characteristic seed heads now showing.
Milk Thistle – Unfortunately, some are already coming through. They will later dominate roadside banks and uncleared footpaths, and unpleasantly scratchy they are to walk through with bare legs.
Jersey Orchid or Loose-Flowered Orchid (Orchis Laxiflora) – One of the tallest orchids, it blooms mainly in soggy fields.
Horseshoe Orchid – Seen near Porta on an April Saturday walk.
Tufted Vetch – Just starting to flower. Later, it will climb to swamp lower-growing plants.
Bellflower or Campanula
Scarlet Pimpernel – The colour veers towards orange rather than being the pure scarlet that the name implies.
Common Poppy – A few have appeared on disturbed land.
Salsify, or Goatsbeard – Just starting to open. Once fertilised, the flower closes and then reopens as a huge golden dandelion-style puffball. The root is an edible delicacy.
Sow Thistle – A tall flower with a dandelion-style head. Before it bolts, the early leaves are the best of the winter wild greens for boiling.
Yellow Flag – It proliferates aquatically in the deep ditches bordering the Golf Club.
Jerusalem Sage (Phlomis fruticosa) – Though it has almost identical leaves, this shrub is only related to Sage in that they are both members of the Mint family. It is inedible. The flowers are large and fleshy.
Honeywort – Growing on disturbed land, it has a tubular flower, yellow at the lip and dusky purple towards the stem.
Yellow Bee Orchid – Small and difficult to spot in the grass. It likes open fields.
Field Marigold (Calendula arvensis) – They’ve been blooming since autumn, and still going strong.
Corn Marigold (Chrysanthemum segetum) – Blooming in great drifts by roadsides.
Spurge (Euphorbia). One of the earlier flowers, it is now being engulfed by later growth.
Smyrnium rotundifolium – This has just taken over from Spurge as the most common yellowy-green flower in the verges.
Mediterranean Hartwort (Tordillium) – This delicate lacy flower has sweet tasting edible leaves. It is now going into the seed phase; amusingly, the seed-heads, in close-up, look like dentures.
Orlaya – It looks like a better-cultivated variety of Hartwort, with more densely-growing petals, but is actually a wild carrot.
Krini Lily – A garden flower which also grows semi-wild.
Asphodel – In unbelievable abundance this spring, notably in the Ropa Valley.
Bladder Campion – A great drift is growing along the bank near the gate of the Grand Mediterraneo Hotel at Ermones.
Star of Bethlehem – Now just about swamped by the long grass.
Also growing: Many little clovers and members of the pea family. Plus a tall buttercup-style flower which has turned low-lying fields yellow.
For more information on Corfu’s flowers, with photographs, please go to John Waller’s excellent site ‘Flowers of Corfu’ at www.corfuflowers.com
Happy Easter, and may your summer be full of flowers.Return To Hilary’s Blog Main Page