crocus-serotinus

October flowers in the Sierra de Grazalema

Autumn flowering bulbs are a favourite at this time of year, but you generally have to have keen eyes to find them as they can be very small and well hidden. On the contrary the Autumn Buttercup can turn a rugged hillside yellow with its shiny, rich yellow, blooms. Autumn doesn’t necessarily mean colourful leaves about to fall, as many trees here are evergreen. The Narrow-leaved Ash seems to be the first to turn yellow with tall Poplars following shortly. The deciduous oaks may retain their leaves until the buds shoot again in the new year, unless strong winds shake them free.

Common Smilax (Smilax aspera)
This scrambling evergreen climber can reach 15metres in height by using its tough, hook like, thorns to hang onto surrounding vegetation, as well as tendrils which double up its clinging abilities. The deep green, heart shaped leaves can be edged with further protective spines. It has very fragrant small, delicate pinkish-white flowers which hang in clusters. The fruit is a berry which is black when ripe and these hang in bunches.  Found in scrub areas and hedgerows. Distribution: Mediterranean Region

Friar’s Cowl (Arisarum simorrhinum)
This is a short perennial whose flowers are easily hidden amongst its leaves and surrounding grasses. The unusual flowers are chocolate brown and white with a curved or hooded top covering a spadix that ends in a thickened, rounded end just at the lip. The leaves are oval to heart shaped, lying close to the ground. They can be found in rocky habitats, scrub and grassland. Distribution: Iberia, S France, NW Africa

Narcissus cavanillesii – Narcissus humilis
This yellow flowered narcissus can easily be overlooked if there are just a few individual flowers as they are low growing with narrow petals and a short corona (cup), actually they hardly resemble a narcissus with their upright blooms. They can form small groups protected between rocks, or large swathes in rough grasses. There may only be a single narrow rush-like leaf per bulb. Occurring in grassy habitats and open woods. Distribution:  South west Spain, NW Africa

Autumn Scilla (Scilla autumnalis)
The lilac or rose coloured starry flowers of this delicate perennial are tiny jewels which hide in the grasses. They carry no leaves at flowering time and may only stand around 20cm tall with up to twenty flowers per stem. They can be seen in dry grassy and rocky places, open scrub, fields and roadsides. Distribution: Mediterranean region.

Lesser Calamint (Calamintha nepeta)
This is a medium to tall perennial plant with erect, branched stems. The flowers are small tubes set in whorls, they are pale pink or white with a few darker spots. The small oval, greyish leaves are strongly aromatic. They occur in dry habitats such as hedgerows, fallow fields and rough grassland, primarily in the mountains. They have a long flowering period and seem to flourish here with the first autumn rains. Distribution: Central and southern Europe, NW Africa, Canary Islands.

Autumn Crocus (Crocus serotinus)
The scented pale lilac to pink flowers have a typical crocus shape and may occasionally have a yellow throat and / or darker veining on the outside of the petals. Note that it will only have 3 stamens, a similar flower also open now is the Southern Colchicum which has 6 stamens. The 4 to 7 fine leaves are often just emerging at the time of flowering. Found in rocky and sandy areas, grassland and open pine woods. Distribution: Iberia and Morocco.

There are three subspecies: 
Crocus serotinus subsp. clusii
Crocus serotinus subsp. salzmannii
Crocus serotinus subsp. serotinus

YELLOW
Narcissus cavanillesii – Narcissus humilis
Common Sternbergia (Sternbergia lutea)
Slender Sternbergia (Sternbergia colchiciflora)
Sticky Inula (Dittrichia viscosa)
Round-leaved Fluellin (Kickxia spuria)
Autumn Buttercup (Ranunculus bullatus)
Carob Tree (Ceratonia siliqua)

WHITE
Autumn snowflake (Leucojum autumnale)
Autumn Ladies Tresses (Spiranthes spirales)
a fluellin (Kickxia lanigera)
Strawberry Tree (Arbutus unedo)
Flax-leaved Daphne (Daphne gnidium)

PINK/PURPLE/BLUE
Common Smilax (Smilax aspera)
Autumn Scilla (Scilla autumnalis)
Lesser Calamint (Calamintha nepeta)
Vervain (Verbena officinalis)
Autumn Mandrake (Mandragora autumnalis)
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Autumn Crocus (Crocus serotinus)
Southern Colchicum (Colchicum lusitanicum)
Merendera montana

GREEN / BROWN
Common Ivy (Hedera helix)
Biarum (Biarum carratracense)
Friar’s Cowl (Arisarum simorrhinum)