Flora & Fauna

I know Portuguese winters are mild, but honeysuckle in early February?

No wonder the florae in the Algarve are 'living magnets' for botanists

Unsurprisingly the flora of Algarve has been described as ‘living magnets for botanists’. I certainly find it irresistible and even after four winters here I can be surprised by what we stumble across. The honeysuckle above being one – I know there are cultivated winter flowering honeysuckles but wild ones? The flowers that are everywhere at this time of year are the daisy and the Bermuda Buttercup. The latter is not the most attractive of flowers, and is so invasive it will strangle out the native flora. However the bright yellow certainly brightens up the saltpans and verges, and if you are very lucky you might find a double.

In early February of course it is the Almond Blossom which dominates the land, but they are not the only trees in flower. So far I have spotted the Cherry, Mimosa, Cork Oak, Carob and Strawberry Tree. The latter three trees, like the Almond trees, are a much cherished crop here in the Algarve; Cork oak for its bark, Carob once mostly grown for cattle feed but now used regularly in cakes and even bread and the Strawberry Tree the staple of the local fruit brandy (read fire water!) Aguardente de Medronhos. By the way did you know that blossom is a botanical term used mostly to describe the flower of stone fruit trees. Only a couple of other trees are ever said to be in blossom, for example oranges.

Trees are not the only flowering flora to bring joy to humans and food for bees at this time of the year. There are nettles, crocus, gorse and rosemary. And in the last few days we’ve noticed quite a few spring flowers beginning to come out; spring is knocking on the door here in the Algarve.

PS As always if you want to know more about any of my photographs hover the mouse over or click to view in the gallery. All of these were taken over the past 30 days and nearly all in the Algarvian hills. If you are in Olhao keen to find native flora but without a car then the best place to head are the islands. There are though a couple of places you can visit by foot, tuk-tuk or bus.

23 comments on “I know Portuguese winters are mild, but honeysuckle in early February?

  1. Thank you for sharing your beautiful early spring flowers while we are eagerly awaiting ours.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Don’t believe all you read! Jude had a good moan at me yesterday 🙂 🙂 I mean- is it my fault she chose to move to Cornwall? She does love it- just greedy for more warmth! But warm and wet’s not much use, is it? Did you six word on the other blog yesterday? I got fed up of visiting Cate and there wasn’t a new post up so I don’t know.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. si avvicina molto la fioritura del Portogallo del sud a quella della mia Toscana, già l mimose indorano i giardini e fanno chiazze colorate i mandorli in fiore….nel mio giardino panseè, primule, rosellina bianche, fanno festa…ancora non vedo caprifoglio che sta germogliando le sue prime tenere foglioline,,,
    le immagini sono molto belle e festose
    felice sabato
    Annalisa

    Liked by 1 person

    • Il tuo Toscana suona così molto bello. Un giorno si recherà in visita in Italia, e la Toscana è la regione che voglio provare per primo.

      grazie per la visita

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Just going to Jo’s. I hope the pair of you know what you are doing? I’m already wondering why I don’t move to Portugal…

    Liked by 3 people

    • So are we!!

      Today though it is very grey here and there was flooding yesterday, so not every day is as stunning as when I took these winter photographs.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Goodness what a range of flowers blooming already. Do they keep blooming for the months ahead Becky or does May look like September in the north of Europe?

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is truly incredible here . . . .and they keep flowering. More and more will appear between now and late June. July and August are the very dry months and it will look brown then.

      It truly is a magical place for botanists

      Like

  6. Absolutely gorgeous images, but I sincerely hope this is not the new normal. Isn’t this far too early? We’re in Norway right now and we are having the warmest winter in 60 years. So sad!! Svalbard north of the Arctic Circle is the warmest place in Norway at the moment with +4° and rain, rain. A catastrophy for the arctic habitat. The polar bears are crying and starvin as the ice is melting.

    Like

    • I can’t ‘like’ this comment Dina. It is very sad to see how our climate is changing and affecting not only wildlife but humans too. If it carries on like this we will have more and more famines, bush fires and drought conditions. Not to mention what happens to the low-lying lands as the sea level rises. Here’s hoping the cold weather from mainland Europe heads northwards very soon!

      Liked by 3 people

      • You are so kind, Jude. Thank you. ❤

        Liked by 2 people

      • You are so right Jude, it is quite scary what is happening in our natural world. So many places are changing so fast, and we are losing so much. Guess makes it is even more important for us all to enjoy what we can whilst we can, and to do what we can to help ensure there is something for future generations to enjoy.

        Liked by 1 person

    • oh Dina you are so right, I hope so too. Most of the flowers here are flowering as they should but the honeysuckle is very odd. Only seen it in one place though so I am hoping it is just an exception.

      Your winter though sounds dreadful in terms of the impact on nature. Do hope it is getting colder now. I am very afraid that in just one or two decades wild Polar Bears will have disappeared. Just what needs to happen for the world as a whole to really start taking action and responsibility?
      Sending ‘cold’ weather wishes your way.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. A bit more about the wonderful carob tree, brought here by the Moors. Carob is used in powdered, chip, or syrup form as an ingredient in cakes and cookies, and as a substitute for chocolate.

    Although this product has a slightly different taste than chocolate, it has only one-third the calories (total 1, 595 calories per pound), is virtually fat-free (chocolate is half fat), is rich in pectin, is non-allergenic, has abundant protein, and has no oxalic acid, which interferes with absorption of calcium.

    Carob contains no caffeine or theobromine, so is used to make chocolate-flavoured treats for dogs.
    Carob pod meal is used as a feed for livestock – in Portugal especially for feeding donkeys.

    The production of locust bean gum in the food industry economically is the most important use of carob.

    The gum is used as a thickener, stabilizer, gelling agent, or as a substitute for gluten in low-calorie products. If galactomannans are mixed with other gelling substances such as carrageenan, they can be used to thicken food. This is used extensively in canned food for animals to get the jellied texture.
    In Cyprus, carob syrup is widely exported. In Malta, a syrup is made out of carob pods. This is a traditional medicine for coughs and sore throat. Carob syrup is also used in Crete as a natural sweetener, and is considered a natural source of calcium. It contains three times more calcium than milk. It is also rich in iron, phosphorus, and natural fibres – due to its strong taste, it can be found mixed with orange or chocolate.

    Several studies suggest that carob may aid in treating Diarrhea in infants.
    Carob is used in skin care cream as it has an emollient effect, help with emulsion stabilising, film forming and controlling the viscosity of the formula.

    The unit ‘carat’ used for weighing precious metal and stones also comes from κεράτιον, as alluding to an ancient practice of weighing gold and gemstones against the seeds of the carob tree by people in the Middle East. The system was eventually standardized, and one carat was fixed at 0.2 grams.
    In late Roman times, the pure gold coin known as the solidus weighed 24 carat seeds (about 4.5 grammes). As a result, the carat became a measure of purity for gold. Thus 24-carat gold means 100% pure, 12-carat gold means the alloy contains 50% gold.

    We lived with ten of these trees on a farm near Algoz. Each had its own personality and differing yields over the years of harvest.

    The sacks of harvested carobs I took to the processing plant in Messines, always leaving with a cheery “see you next year!” The money received paid for a couple of flights and a large way towards an annual break. Yes, I miss the carob….

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Just been to Jo’s, a real Portuguese feast with both of you this morning!

    Liked by 4 people

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