When in Portugal we are drawn time and time again to the Guadiana valley, and when in England I can, like I have today, lose all track of time and forget some of the ‘political’ horrors of 2016 as I scroll through my photographs of the Guadiana flora. There are two particular spots which we find impossible to resist. The first is my favourite bend in a road and the second, a few miles away, is a favourite curve in a river. On our last visits to both I found myself disappearing into the undergrowth enchanted as ever by the flores do campo.

I’ve been unable to find the English common name for this lovely vetch. However I have come across its Portuguese common name – Patinha-de-osga – which if I have translated correctly means Footprint of Gecko. What a great name!

anthyllis-lotoides

Anthyllis (Hymenocarpos) Lotoides

As always my attempts as botanical tourist are hampered by my lack of measurements. I can usually track down the family, no mean feat given the number of flowering plants in the Algarve. However when it comes to the individual species I’m often uncertain as so many are incredibly similar with only tiny variations. Professional botanists use DNA for classifying plants, but in the field they, like me, rely on morphology-based descriptions. However unlike me I’m sure they remember to take the rulers out of their ruck-sacks! My macro photographs do help once back home with my books but they can distort size without the aid of a ruler in shot. Here are just a few of the ones I am pondering.

As I have said before though I am not really worrying too much about scientific names and exact species. With over 1500 native plants I’ll never remember them all. So my goals are simple 1) try to remember a few common names of the most common plants when in the field and 2) aim to identify the family of everything else once back with the books.

I might though add a third goal next spring of getting my head around wild flower morphology. Some things stick – such as umbrel, spike and raceme, but others such as actinomorphic, panicle, capitulum and cyme, seem to fade away as soon as I close the book. If I succeed then I might be able to suggest which family a flower belongs to when out in the field. Now that would be amazing.

Hope you have enjoyed my photographs as much as I have, and really hope this post has enabled you to take a few moments to escape, to see the beauty in our world and forget some of the horrors that have and are occurring in the world this year. Tomorrow we can return to the campaigns for the environment, for justice, equality, peace and tolerance. Today simply see and enjoy the beauty.