It was our second day in Crete. As flower lovers, with a special taste for orchids, we had an exiting experience on the previous day – so we built high expectation on this morning. Our first stop was for view from the top on the excavations of an ancient Minoan town in Gournia: an impressive sight – but this trip was mainly botanical, not historical. Yet one can't ignore history on this ancient island. As we looked down we on the spot we were standing a beautiful bush of dark blue flowers: the Achusa italica. But this was only a side treat – and we headed towards our breakfast on the beach. Walking along the beach, we could not ignore the yellow poppy flowers that welcomed us – the Glaucium flavum, with its curly wide leaves.
After enjoying the cheese pie at the Café, we continued our journey towards the Thripty mountain. The first endemic flower to welcome us on this day was a beautiful white Cyclamen (creticum) and next the colorful Iris cretansis. Not to long after we noticed little white balls hanging from a pine tree – these were the fruit of the parasite plant – Viscum album ssp. Creticum – another endemic! Encouraged by our recent findings we decended the tiny jeep and walked ashort distance to discover our first orchids for the day (which were the original aim of the trip). WE came across the delicate Orchis anatolica, finding it difficult to tell him apart from the very similar Orchis quadripunctata which grow not far away. Next was the yellow Orchis pauciflora, with its long upright curved spur. We observed a variety of Bee orchids from the Ophrys fusca family.
But we were impatient to get to the highlight of the trip. We ascended again Julia's little jeep and after a little while she advised us to take a little walk up a small creek. In a few steps we discovered our first Tulip in Crete! It was a very small Tulip – but how colorful! And then another one and then a whole bunch of them – They were the endemic Tulipa cretica. In between were scattered the local white Cyclamen. We continued walking along the hillside, and suddenly spotted a most tiny and delicate Orchid: The Neotinea maculate. We were sure we reached the climax of the day, so we headed towards the amall mountain village of Thripty. On our way we noticed the erect yellow candle-like flower of Arum creticum and the endemic Anemone hortensis ssp. Heldreichii. Suddenly, to our surprise, we spotted a Huge tulip arising out of a ditch. It was similar in color to the previous one we saw – but much bigger. That was the Tulipa saxatilis. Ouite impressive.
After lunch we continued to a field not far away, and enjoyed the colorful sight of different colors of Anemone coronaria. A few hundred meters away on a mild rocky slope we found another Bee orchid – the Ophrys omegaifera and finally a surprise: the rare yellow orchid Dactylorhiza romana! Now it was high time to head to our hotel in Elounda for a good rest.
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