Tuesday, April 28, 2009


A brilliant orange floral display makes this low, compact herb to 12 in. (30 cm) tall one of the showiest of spring wildflowers. Both the branching, square stems and the spirally arranged leaves are covered with fine hairs. The flowers close at night and open the next day with bright light. Grows in sunny roadsides, pastures and borders of cultivated fields.

Scientific name: Calendula suffruticosa
Italian common name: Fiorrancio fulgida
English common name: Calendula

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


One of the eye-catching wildflower beauties of spring in Sicily is Honeywort. The tubular yellow and purple flowers of this hardy annual open in nodding clusters on upright stems that begin branching near the base of the plant. Because of their generous nectar supply, the blooms are attractive to bees. Plant height varies from 8 to 20 in. (20 to 50 cm.) depending mostly on soil fertility. Grows in pastures and margins of cultivated fields, roadsides and open sunny places in woodlands.

Scientific name: Cerinthe major
Italian common name: Erba vaiola, Succiamele
English common name: Honeywort

Thursday, April 9, 2009


In late winter and early spring, pink and lavenderAnemone flowers add vibrant splashes of color to the awakening flora of the Sicilian countryside. The solitary blooms of this small tuberous rooted perennial open at the tips of slender stems that grow to a height of 8 in(20 cm) or more above leaves divided into 3 to 5 segments. Grows in open, sunny locations in cultivated fields, pastures, olive groves, woodland clearings and along roadsides.

Scientific name: Anemone hortensis
Italian common name: Flor-stella
English common name: Anemone

Monday, April 6, 2009


In spring, nodding clusters of intense blue star-shaped flowers with 5 triangular, pointed petals decorate the branch tBoldips of this annual herb. Borage leaves and stems are covered with bristly hairs and the flowers attract bees. The plant has various culinary and medicinal uses, and an oil is extracted from its seeds. Grows in borders of cultivated land, orchards and citrus groves, roadsides and uncultivated fields and pastures.

Scientific name: Borago officinalis
Italian common name: Borragine
English common name: Borage

Buttercup, Lesser celadine

From thickened underground tubers this low growing perennial developes a rosette of kidney-to heart-shaped leaves that are dark green, fleshy and lustrous. Each rosette sends up a single bright yellow flower made up of 8 or more glossy petals. Plants appear in late winter and spring, produce flowers and die back in a short time. Grows in sun or shade, in woodlands, orchards and borders of fields and pasture lands.

Scientific name: Ranunculus ficaria L.
Italian common name: Ranuncolo favagello
English common name: Buttercup, Lesser celadine

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Terrestrial orchid

The first and one of the showiest native terrestrial orchids to flower in Sicily is Richard's Barlia. In winter or early spring a cylindrical, upright spike bearing as many as 100 delicate rose-pink orchids speckled purple rises to as much as 16 in.(40 cm) above large waxy leaves. The plant grows from an oval shaped tuber or underground food storage organ. The species name of this orchid honors French botanist G.N. Robert.
Habit: Pastures, clearings in woodlands and arid Mediterranean scrub, on south slopes at higher elevations.

Scientific name: Himantoglossum robertianum
syn. Barlia robertianum
Italian common name: Barbone di Robert
English common name: Robert's Barlia

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Wood violet

Tiny, rich purple flowers that open in early spring above a clump of dense, low growing foliage are the special virtues of this small violet. Each bloom has 5 petals, with a noticeable spur at the base of the lower one. The soft, medium green leaves are heart-shaped with rounded teeth. This violet which spreads both by runners and seeds typically grows no more than 2 to 3 in. (5 to 7.5 cm) tall.
Habitat: woodlands and pastures in part shade to full sun

Scientific name: Viola riviniana
Italian common name: Viola di Rivinus
English common name: Wood violet