nerium-oleander

August flowers in the Sierra de Grazalema

This is a golden month, as most annual flowers have finished their colourful phase, produced their seed heads and dried completely to a straw colour. Although if you look in the right places there are still flowers to be found; watercourses, irrigated areas, animal watering troughs, damp meadows and high mountains will offer the best selection. However, this is also a good month to see insects such as dragonflies, mantis and bushcrickets!

Oleander (Nerium oleander)
A tall, flexible, bushy shrub growing to about 6m, that is associated with waterways, the bright pink (sometimes scented) flowers are in clusters on the branch tips. The leaves are long and fairly narrow, they remain on this evergreen plant all year. It is wise to be cautious when handling this plant as the white milky sap released when a leaf or branch is broken can cause skin irritation and eye inflammation. All parts of the plant are toxic, even the smoke inhaled from burning its branches. Distribution: Mediterranean region, eastwards and widely used in gardening with many different coloured cultivars.

Shrubby Hare’s Ears (Bupleurum fruticosum)
This plant forms a bushy shrub which can grow to 2.5 m, although only in favourable situations. Its blue-green leaves are narrow and waxy which helps reduce transpiration.  The clusters of tiny yellow flowers are held on umbels above the leaves in summer and early autumn, they attract wasps and hoverflies. It can be seen growing in quite inhospitable places such as dry sunny limestone banks. Distribution: Mediterranean Region

Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium)
This is a small perennial, growing to around 40cm tall. Its tiny leaves are highly aromatic, it is the source of the very popular Poleo- Menta infusion. The clusters of pale lilac flowers are held in whorls along the stem, opening from summer to autumn, they are noted for attracting nectaring insects. It grows best in damp areas. Distribution: Southern Europe, including Britain, Mediterranean region, Macaronesia.

Common Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
The well known culinary and medicinal herb Fennel can grow to 2.5 m tall. The stems are hollow and branched with fine, feathery leaves. The yellow flowers are clustered on umbels, in our area you might also find smaller flower heads of a more orange-reddish colour. We are not the only ones who enjoy its flavour, the attractively patterned caterpillars of the large Common Swallowtail butterfly can sometimes be found on these plants. Distribution: the Mediterranean, and naturalized in many parts of the world.

Apple Mint (Mentha suaveolens)
A perennial plant that can grow up to 1 m tall in the right conditions, it favours damp ground. The oval leaves have soft hairs on top and they are also felted with hairs beneath, thus giving rise to an alternative common name of woolly mint. The flower spikes are made up of many tiny whitish-lilac blooms. It can be grown both as a culinary herb and an ornamental plant. Distribution: Southern and western Europe.

Purple Rush Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)
This is a robust herbaceous perennial with upright stems to 1.2m tall with narrow, willowy leaves. The small purplish-pink flowers are approx 2cm wide and held in dense terminal spikes, opening over a long period in summer. Its favoured habitat is pond-sides and watercourses which allows it the luxury of a long flowering season. Distribution: widespread in Europe, NW Africa, Asia and introduced into N America.

PURPLE, BLUE, PINK
Wooly Lavender (Lavandula lanata)
Eryngo (Eryngium tricuspidatum)
Blue Lettuce (Lactuca tenerrima)
Verbena (Verbena officinalis)
Mallow (Malva sylvestris)
Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus)
Ptilostemon hispanicus
Star Thistle (Centaurea calcitrapa)
Hairy Willowherb (Epilobium hirsutum)

YELLOW
Yellow Flax (Linum tenue)
Common Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
Clustered Carline Thistle (Carlina corymbosa)
Branched Carline Thistle (Carlina racemosa)
Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea)
Sticky Fleabane (Dittrichia viscosa)
Stinkwort (Dittrichia graveolens)
Spiny hare’s-ears (Bupleurum frutescens ssp. spinosum)
Shrubby Hare’s Ears (Bupleurum fruticosum)
Rush Skeletonweed (Chondrilla juncea)
Prickly Lettuce (Lactuca serriola)

WHITE
Wild asparagus (Asparagus albus)
Flax leaved daphne (Daphne gnidium)
Cynara baetica
European Heliotrope (Heliotropium europaeum)
Apple Mint (Mentha suaveolens)