Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Dittrichia viscosa. Estancia d'es Prat.

My initial idea of photographing  flowering Spiranthes Spiralis, which is one of the few orchids that bloom in autumn in Menorca, was ruined when I realized the dryness of the grounds.

Anyway, a stroll through the north of Es Mercadal finds always some small reward.

Dittrichia viscosa, also known as False Yellowhead, Sticky Fleabane, Woody Fleabane and Yellow Fleabane, is a flowering plant in the daisy family.

This perennial plant is common throughout the Mediterranean Basin. Originally it was found mainly in dry riverbeds and abandoned fields up to a height of 1.500 m. Nowadays it is quite common in roadsides and ruderal habitats, even in urban areas. It is considered an invasive species in Australia. The False Yellowhead is a tough plant, very resistant to adverse conditions and degraded environments. It is important as food for the caterpillars of certain butterflies and moths, like Ioana iolas.

Despite the fresh-looking green color of its leaves and its attractive inflorescence,  this plant is sticky and has a certain smell that most people find unpleasant. It contains an essential oil and has been used in traditional medicine since ancient times, especially in the Levant, as an astringent.

It is an important plant in Catalan tradition, often mentioned in adages and proverbs. One adage says that: "els raïms són madurs quan floreixen les olivardes.", the grapes are ripe when the Yellow Fleabane blooms.

 Estancia d'es Prat.

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