My attempts as a botanical tourist

The best time of course to visit as a botanical tourist is in the Spring, but even as we approach the depths of winter there is flowering flora to find and puzzle over.


Yesterday evening as we strolled around the salt pans and marshes I was certainly puzzling, and I am still struggling this morning to identify this plant even with the help of the superb Field Guide to the Wild Flowers of the Algarve.


I’m pretty confident it is a form of Amaranthaceae, a family of plants that has over 2,500 species, and think it might be Suaeda vera.  Unfortunately the photograph in the guide isn’t great, the description however is good and is what has led to me to think this is Suaeda vera.


A small succulent, wood shrub to 1.2m, leaves densely crowded, blunt and fleshly, alternate, small 5-18mm, semi-cylindrical, sessile and glaucous, becoming reddish or purplish.

Part of my problem is at the time I am taking the photographs I am in my photographer mode thinking about the end product, but what I need to do is also put my botanical hat on so when I’m back at the apartment with my guide I also have a few photographs or even better hand-written notes that show me the plant in situ and provide details on size. The following photographs of the calendula are a classic example.


DSCN0070They are lovely photographs but they don’t answer questions about size of flower and leaves, positioning of leaves and general appearance. So of course a day later I am having to rely on memory to recall the size of the flower and other aspects of its anatomy in order to identify the species.

Based on what I can recall and these photographs, I am going to say this is the Field Marigold – calendula arvensis. However don’t take my word for it! I will confirm once I have had a chance to revisit it in the field and have taken some botanical notes.

And on that note I’m going to finish with another ‘photographers’ photo rather than a botanical one. Was definitely thinking winter pictures when I took this! It was quite a large shrub, with needle shaped leaves that seem verticillate. It was the berries that caught my eye. Another identification puzzle for you and for me, and one I hope to solve before my next Flora and Fauna post.


Author: BeckyB

It had been a good life walking, cooking, photographing, volunteering, blogging, and best of all spending time with MrB, family, & friends. Sadly it no longer is. Suddenly and unexpectedly I have become a widow.

17 thoughts

  1. We did some botanical tours some years ago and that started my interest but I tend to take a few photos but never seem to get the right part for final ID! It’s the pretty ones that really help! We use a Mediterranean Field Guide but this doesn’t have the common species and I get thrown by that. Great photos Becky. Would have to check with the experts to really confirm your id! We have botanist friend and he led one of our Navasola tours.

  2. I’m no botanist, but I think I might have seen the first plant (or another species of it) as a houseplant… Does that seem likely? And even without any expertise, I still enjoyed your photos 😀

    1. Hee hee . . .seems there are a few of us! I have started to get better since writing this but amazing how much of a struggle I am finding it. I just like lovely photographs too much!

  3. The last one looks similar to yew trees and berries, but not sure you find them in the Algarve! I am like you, taking photographer’s photos and then struggling with size and leaf shape etc. I have started to photograph other bits to help identify plants and trees, but still find I have a plant that could fit several descriptions! Good luck with the ID 🙂

    1. Oh I’m so so pleased there is someone else like me! I’m hoping by admitting what I do that next time out in the field I will remember to photograph the other bits too

      I’ll let you know what it is when I do identify it 🙂

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