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.