Flora & Fauna Olhão

Olhão’s surprises

Everyone who has visited Olhão knows of their wonderful markets, many have discovered the good value delicious restaurants and most know to catch the ferries to the stunning islands.  Fortunately only a few seem to explore the back streets and even less have discovered Olhão’s saltpans.  As regular readers know I am beginning to ponder whether I should be encouraging you to explore these hidden delights, but given some recent reports suggest that the saltpans and surrounding countryside might be replaced by more hotels and marinas, I thought I should continue to share more of Olhão’s surprises before they all disappear.

These meadows, or perhaps I should say rough ground is to the left of the N2-6 as you leave Olhão
These meadows, or perhaps I should say this rough ground, is to the left of the N2-6 as you leave Olhão.  Well worth exploring.

DSCN0987Today, realising it has been a few weeks since I last posted, I have been going through my ‘photographic treasure trove’, and I have found some lovely memories.  They are all of a cloudy yet warm afternoon in April when we explored the meadows to the north west of Olhão.  You may recall I first mentioned these in ‘Living Magnets’ and as promised here is a proper look.

DSCN1005It was the aqueduct that first caught our eye when travelling along the N2-6. Whilst you see many working and abandoned Noras in the fields, the large aqueducts are less visible.  This is one of the most impressive we’ve seen to date.  My husband is planning a guest post on the Noras later this summer, but if you want to find out more today then visit here or here.  Big thank you again to Jeronimo of Casa da Armanda for these links.

Whilst exploring the Nora, we were joined by some very large dogs.  It meant we couldn’t stay long as they were rather large, noisy and seemingly unsupervised!  However their arrival was a kind of bonus in that it enabled me to explore the flora and fauna in this area.  There was so much to see.

In the woods there was Eucalyptus and the villous deadly carrot
In the woods there was Eucalyptus and the villous deadly carrot

I think that is such a glorious description – Villous Deadly Carrot!  It is though a description worth heeding as all parts of Thapsia villosa are poisonous, and the roots are also an irritant to the skin, so be careful. Another poisonous plant we came across was the Devil’s Apple.  This is the same family as the potato, tomato and of course Nightshades.

Solanum linnaeanum more commonly known as the Devils Apple or Apple of Sodom
Solanum linnaeanum more commonly known as the Devils Apple or Apple of Sodom

Despite the ‘deadly’ plants it was lovely strolling through the woods and there was plenty of flora even in April, and thanks to the wonderful book ‘Field Guide to the Wildflowers of the Algarve‘ I have been able to identify most of what I saw on this stroll.

Tassel Hyacinth, common in open rocky and grassy habitats across the Algarve.
Tassel Hyacinth, common in open rocky and grassy habitats across the Algarve.

It was in the open areas adjacent to the N2-6 as you leave Olhão, which I’m calling the meadows but you’d probably more accurately describe as rough ground, where we saw most of the flora.  You can leave your car beside the minor road which runs between the N2-6 and N125.  We use this road when heading to Pechão as it avoids the centre of Olhão when travelling from the apartments – shortly after leaving Olhão simply turn right at the U-turn traffic lights!  Follow the road and after a sharp right hand turn you will see the woods on the right and housing on the left.  Park here, and then stroll through the woods to the open areas.

Asphodelus ramosus more commonly known as the Kings Spear.
Asphodelus ramosus more commonly known as the Kings Spear.

Not everything is easy to view, but for me that’s what makes it fun scrambling around in the undergrowth or getting down on your knees to look at something in detail!

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If you like me enjoy discovering and identifying wild flowers in their natural habitats then do leave the Algarve beaches and explore inland.  You won’t need to stroll far from your car before you are surrounded by orchids and other flora delights.

Serapias cordigera, more commonly known as the Heart Flowered Orchid.
Serapias cordigera, more commonly known as the Heart Flowered Orchid.
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