Thursday, 24 November 2011

Wildflowers of Malta: Asphodel

Asphodel (Asphodelus aestivus) known in  Maltese as berwieq is a lily-like plant with very small roots. It is a common sight on cliff tops and in areas of garigue.  In fact the plant prefers rocky areas with very little soil. The plants grow to a height of between 50 and 150cm and flower between January and April. The flowers are white with reddish-brown vertical stripes. This plant is native to Africa and most of the Mediterranean coasts. The name asphodel is derived from Greek. Although no longer employed in modern medicine, asphodel was used by the Greeks and the Romans as a diuretic, antispasmodic and as a treatment for sun burns. Asphodel tubers are highly resistant to fire.

Bahrija Valley (33)

In Greek legend, asphodel is closely associated with the dead and Persephone is often depicted wearing a garland of asphodel flowers. Asphodel was also planted on graves and the Asphodel Meadows was thought to be the place where the souls of those who had done an equal measure of good and evil in their lives rested.

Winter countryside (35)

Bahrija Valley (35)

It will soon be time for these tenacious perennials to bloom on rocky outcrops and on cliffs and areas with shallow pockets of soil. Asphodel is just one of the many pretty blooms that flower and thrive during our short winters.  It is a plant perfectly adapted to our Mediterranean climate. As soon as the heat becomes intense, the plant and flowers wither and die, but under ground, the tuber will live on until the autumn rains cause it to sprout once more.

9 comments:

  1. Lovely post! Wishing you a most lovely weekend.
    xoxo, B

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  2. How beautiful Loree
    And what wonderful words to accompany such a pretty wild flower.. I love hearing about the ancient uses and legends associated with flowers.. It's interesting that the flower is associated with death and the underworld and aptly flowers when all else is dead or resting..

    Hope you have a lovely weekend.. ciao xxx Julie

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  3. It is so delicately pretty and is even of historical significance. I would never have thought it bloomed in winter.

    And I'm surprised to see that you call "la garrigue" as we do in French, I had no clue.

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  4. 'It will soon be time for these tenacious perennials to bloom on rocky outcrops and on cliffs and areas with shallow pockets of soil.'

    This read like poetry to me, Loree. A beautiful post.

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  5. Lovely...it's the wildflowers that will make me yearn for Spring, come February!

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  6. What a strange flower ! I think I have never seen one like this !

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  7. Yay..super beautiful post Loree..all the things i love and am into..flwoers/ lore..mythologies and healing etc! Love all that stuff..wonderful spotlight..gorgeous photos!
    Kiki

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  8. it's a lovely wildflower, with a fascinating history!

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