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A botanical early summer hike

This year, summer is arriving late. It’s already the end of May, and it’s still relatively cool, with occasional rain. The mountains remain wonderfully green, adorned with flowers – thus making this the best season for hiking. In our area, the spring flowers have withered, and among the evergreen bushes and trees, the land has taken on a brown hue.

However, there’s a whole variety of even more beautiful flowers that are just now blooming, making every walk a pleasure. Here’s a selection from a half-hour stroll right behind our property:

Asteriscus aquaticus

Teucrium divaricatum

Bombylius minor hovers while feeding on the flower of Centaurea raphanina.

Lomelosia divaricata

Delphinium peregrinum

Centaurium tenuiflorum is now in flower, dotting the landscape with pink colour.

While wandering through the Phrygana, you may occasionally meet a Libelloides lacteus, a species of owlfly.

Sitting down, the owlflies are hard to spot; in flight, however, they are quite conspicuous flapping their black-and-white wings until settling back down.

Nigella doerfleri

Sideritis curvidens with its characteristic calyxes belongs to the mint family (Lamiaceae).

This rare member of the Asteraceae family, Lactuca tuberosa, opens its large, pale-yellow flowers only at night or on cloudy days.

A close relative is this common blue-flowering chicory species, Cichorium intybus.

The Clouded Yellow, Colias croceus, is not very common; it’s difficult to photograph because it is so shy.

Dianthus cinnamomeus, a beautiful carnation, with petals much darker on the outside, is quite common around Azalás.

This pretty species, Dianthus tripunctatus, is much rarer. It was not documented for Naxos until now.

Lastly, in this small rock face, I find a single specimen of the Ground pine (Ajuga chamaepitys ssp. chia), here growing together with Centaurea raphanina.

Ajuga chamaepitys, a lovely small plant belonging to the Labiate family, has yellow, red-speckled flowers with a completely reduced upper lip (as with all Ground Pine species); the spreading hairy leaves are deeply tripartite.

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