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A hike through the phrygana

If you love hiking and are interested in flowers, then the best time to come to Naxos is spring, from the end of March to the beginning of May (depending on the weather conditions). This is the peak flowering time for most plants: There are chrysanthema and daisies, poppies and bindweed, numerous varieties of clover and vetch and many more.

If you come to Naxos in April, you should not miss a walk through the phrygana, the dwarf shrub community that occurs in Azalás on schist and on shallow, infertile soils above solidified river comglomerates. Here grow cistus and broom, blooming abundantly, as well as countless smaller flowers among the shrubs, little treasures whose beauty you can only discover by taking the time to search and look closely. Here some photos of a few species that you will meet on a short walk through the phrygana in the immediate vicinity of Azalás.

landscape in Azalas

In April, the two most common shrub species in the phrygana are in bloom: the spiny broom and the Montpellier cistus. The broom exudes a pleasant fragrance that covers the whole area, especially on warm, windless days. The spiny broom Calicotome villosa is common throughout the island, especially on marble.

Calicotome villosa

Calicotome villosa
Spiny broom, Calicotome villosa

Of the three cistus species that occur on Naxos, only the Montpellier cistus (Cistus monspeliensis) is common in Azalás. It starts flowering a little later than the spiny broom. Some bushes are completely covered with the pretty white flowers with their delicate petals.

Cistus monspeliensis

Montpellier cistus, Cistus monspeliensis
Montpellier cistus, Cistus monspeliensis

The kermes oak is also in bloom, although its flowers are much less conspicuous than those of the rock roses and the broom.

Kermes oak, Quercus coccifera

Kermes oak, Quercus coccifera
When browsed intensely, the kermes oak (Quercus coccifera) usually remains a low shrub, but it can also grow up to a stately tree.

It is marvellous to walk through the fragrant, blooming phrygana and take pictures of all the little flowers growing among the shrubs!

in the phrygana near Azalas

A delicate, white lily species grows in the phrygana: Gagea graeca.

Gagea graeca
Gagea graeca

Many species of clover occur regularly in the phrygana. The unmistakable Trifolium uniflorum grows as a low cushion; it is very common on Naxos.

Trifolium uniflorum
Trifolium uniflorum

Several species of cranesbill occur on Naxos; here the a pretty fruit of Geranium rotundifolium.

fruit of Geranium rotundifolium
Geranium rotundifolium

Here and there, near the course of the river, ony may encounter the stiff-haired Onosma graeca of the borage family.

Onosma graeca

Onosma graeca
Onosma graeca

The clover species Tripodion tetraphyllum is particularly pretty with its conspicuous inflated calyxes.

Blasen-Wundklee, Tripodion tetraphyllum
Tripodion tetraphyllum

This small plant belongs to the sage genus: Salvia viridis.

Salvia viridis
Salvia viridis

We only find one orchid on our walk, probably Ophrys scolopax ssp. cornuta.

Ophrys scolopax ssp. cornuta
Ophrys scolopax ssp. cornuta

The most common bird species in the phrygana, as on the island in general, is the Sardinian warbler. Everywhere we hear its warning call and the song, a simple, not particularly melodious rattle. We also occasionally hear a cirl bunting, whose song is somewhat resembles that of the yellowhammer. Here and there, a small flock of goldfinches flutters past; we also hear greenfinches and linnets. In the distance, the soothing, melodious song of the Orphean warbler can be heard from a group of trees.

Phrygana near Azalas
Flowers everywhere!

Trifolium grandiflorum
Trifolium grandiflorum

Plantago cretica
Plantago cretica

Very common on Naxos is the Mediterranean hartwort with its delicate white flowers and characteristic fruits.

Mediterranean hartwort, Tordylium apulum
Mediterranean hartwort, Tordylium apulum

We find the pretty jumping spider Philaeus chrysops.

Philaeus chrysops
Philaeus chrysops

The fluffy inflorescences of Lagoecia cuminoides are particularly pretty, albeit rather inconspicuous.

Lagoecia cuminoides
Lagoecia cuminoides

The Venus crest is unmistakable due to its long fruits.

Venus' comb or Stork's needle, Scandix pecten-veneris
Venus’ comb or Stork’s needle, Scandix pecten-veneris

The small species Valantia hispida, belonging to the bedstraw family, is very common in our area, but easy to overlook due to its small size.

Valantia hispida
Valantia hispida

The flowers of the red tarweed, which is also quite small, are particularly pretty.

red tarweed, Parentucellia latifolia
red tarweed, Parentucellia latifolia

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