On their first day they always walk up the rambla to Las Hortichuelas and we joined them as they passed below our house. Here, there is a great variety of interesting plants, including some which are found only in this area.
The more common plants include this giant yellow umbelifer.It favours dry, stony habitats.
The botanists were pleased to find a palmito in flower. The yellow blossoms attract insects into the centre of the plant.
Along the rambla, I noticed the burrow of a Mediterranean tarantula. Typically, it was surrounded by a skillfully constructed fence of fragments of vegetation and small stones. By inserting a stem of dried grass, I was able to coax the inhabitant, which defends its territory vigorously, out of its hole.
The strongly-scented Lavandula stoechas grows in profusion along the rambla. It has deep purple flowers, but here is a pink variety – not a colour variation, but a species in its own right. Kew Gardens have developed a variety in a lovely, smoky mauve called Kew Red.
After a while, we left the rambla and scrambled up the mountainside where a glorious display of white-flowered cistus cascaded down the rocky slopes.
We found several wild gladioli flowering here and ….
…. most exciting of all, an excellent example of the very rare and elusive Caralluma europaea and, for the first time, I was able to see one actually in flower.
This curious plant mimics not only cactus, but also its long, narrow fruits are identical in every way to those of the cornical bush.
The Spanish call this low-growing, spreading plant ‘flor de plata’ (silver plant).
The botanist, Sarah Ball, in the centre of the first photo has just published this invaluable field guide to the flora of Eastern Andalucia. You can buy a copy from http://www.nhbs.com/wild_flowers_of_eastern_andalucia_tefno_197184.html