The Enchanting Flowers of the Pomegranate

According to legend, the pomegranate (Punica granatum) grew in the garden of Eden. The pomegranate is a great and versatile fruit; it has been cultivated and naturalised in the Mediterranean region since ancient times. The fruit is surrounded by a long and colourful history of symbolic meaning and mythical tales. It is referred to in Greek, Hebrew, Buddhist, Islamic, and Christian mythology and writings. Many cultures use various parts of the tree and the fruit to make medicinal potions or other concoctions. The pomegranate is described in records dating from around 1500 BC as a treatment for tapeworm and other parasites.

The pomegranate tree can live for many years, some say for up to 200 years. I particularly like the pomegranate flower (see photo top).

The pomegranate fruit can be found in some coats of arms of royalty and nobility. It is also used as a pattern in old carpets and rugs from Persia, India, East Turkistan or China (see photo below).

The photo (top) was taken near Llucmajor, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: June 6th, 2012. The time was 11:47:18. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of metropolitancarpet.com.

Thank you very much.

The Enchanting Flowers of the Pomegranate

Oranges and Sunshine

When we first came to Mallorca, it was one of our first ambitions to have a lemon tree in our garden. We pretty soon succeeded in planting our very own specimen.

Only much later we came to realize that the sweet aroma of orange blossoms was an equally important addition to our perfumed garden, if not much more so. You have to smell an orange tree in full bloom to know the fragrant smell; words alone can’t describe it. Orange blossoms are all prim and virginal when the buds are shut tight. But when those petals part and the plump and sticky, frilly and feathery bits of pistil and stamen spill out, orange blossoms look just a bit promiscuous. Pollinating bees everywhere respond to this sensory scent like a moth is attracted to the consuming flame.

Not all that long ago, Mallorcans were busy producing Agua de Azahar or Flor de Taronger, an orange flower water also known as Fleur d’Oranger. I imagine that this stimulant was first initiated by the Maurish settlers on this island, hundreds of years ago. Today, no such tonic water is produced here in Mallorca. One can buy Fleur d’Oranger in a Morrocan corner shop, though, and a cheaper version in one or the other supermarket. Fleur d’Oranger is a welcome ingredient for some baking and patisserie pastries and can also be used in cooking or to flavour drinks. In North Africa you will be offered Fleur d’Oranger to clean your hands as you enter a host’s house.

The photo was taken in Costitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 1st, 2012. The time was 12:46:59.

Oranges and Sunshine

The Mallorcan Bindweed

The Mallorcan Bindweed (Convolvulus valentinus) is an exquisite plant with a rather pretty flower. The bindweed is a hermaphrodite plant which usually comes with a blue flower but, occasionally can also be pink as shown here. The plant is indigenous to Alicante, Valencia, Ibiza and Mallorca, and can also be found in Algeria.

According to Herbarivirtual, the flower is rather rare in Mallorca and can only be found in one place. Well, I happen to disagree; I believe to have seen this flower near the coast line in the South East of the island, and also, in the North, and on quite a number of occasions. The plant flowers now (April, May and June) on sandy terrain near pine forests in coastal areas.

The photos were taken near Ses Salines, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 9th, 2012. The time was 16:11:41 and 16:13:26, respectively.

The Mallorcan Bindweed

Flower Power

The Fira de ses Flors in Costitx is a bit of a misnomer. More appropriately, it should rather be called a fair of flowers, plants, trees, shrubs, herbs, grasses, ferns and other gardening and horticultural paraphernalia. But then, that would not roll so nicely off the tongue, would it? Anyway, the Fira was held yesterday; I went there with my wife and we thoroughly enjoyed our outing. Of all the Firas and Festes in Mallorca, there is only a handful or so that we really enjoy, and this one is one of them. Not everybody may agree with our choice but not everyone is into flowers and plants and trees and green fingers the way we are. Suum cuique.

The Fira de ses Flors is actually a bit of a peculiarity here in Mallorca. This one is not one of the traditional fairs or markets that has been going for hundreds or at least, dozens of years. This fair was devised with a political motivation. It was conceived by none other than Maria Antònia Munar i Riutort, longstanding Batlessa (mayoress) of Costitx from 1983 to 2007 but probably better known as the erstwhile President of nearly every political office Mallorca has to offer. Her ambition was to put her pueblo on the political map. She achieved that daunting task by instigating the Observatorio Astronómico de Mallorca in Costitx which was inaugurated in May 1991, and by initiating the Fira de ses Flors.

The talented lady was once Mallorca’s most popular and certainly most powerful female before she was seen as the most hated mayoress or indeed, politician amongst her compatriots. She is currently accused of a whole array of political misconduct and will stand in court any time soon, wanting to prove her innocence.

The photo was taken in Costitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 1st, 2012. The time was 13:43:19.

Flower Power

Wild Gladioluses

One of my many Mallorcan delights is a small and delicate wild flower with up to twelve soft purple florets. They are wild gladioluses (Gladiolus italicus), also known as Common Sword Lily, a native to all four major Balearic isles. The wild beauty grows on the edge of wheat, rye or oats fields. The flower usually comes out in May and June but this year, everything seems a bit early. Even Summer, if we are lucky.

The photo (top) was taken near Manacor, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: April 26th, 2012. The time was 11:38:04. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of pbase.com and ftd.

Thank you very much.

Wild Gladioluses

Wild Flowers

If you have lived in Mallorca for a number of years, say ten or even longer, you will not fail to have noticed that there are certain patterns, be that cycles in the weather or a certain rhythm in bird sightings or the blooming of flowers or trees. But now and then you will find that suddenly everything is upside down, or out of synch.

This year, for instance, we had much less than the usual amount of rainfall during February and March. Perhaps the rain will come in May. Wildflowers are usually out in massive appearance during April, as they are indeed this year, but the amapolas (red poppies) usually don’t come out in force until May. Well, this year May is April, or so it seems, at least as far as the poppies (Papaver rhoeas) are concerned. And I can’t say that I’ll complain.

The weather pattern is another thing. It was unusually cold over the last few days with even a hint of snow above 1300 metres. Yesterday, the sun came through again with temperatures rising ever so slightly. The outlook is quite good for the next few days with temperatures rising further from today to hit 20º C by the weekend. I won’t complain about that either.

The photo was taken near Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: April 17th, 2012. The time was 14:33:58.

Wild Flowers

Les Fleurs du Mel

I am not trying to quote Charles Baudelaire today. The blossoming tree photo has nothing to do with his Fleurs du Mal. Instead, the tree flowers of spring attract bees and insects by the hundreds to collect pollen for the industrious production of honey (Catalan: mel), in the case of the bees, and for instant nourishment in the case of other insects. Luckily, there is the added benefit of pollination which is done in the process to ensure that this tree will give us the plum or apricot or whatever this tree will bear. What a wonderful invention of nature, pleasing all our senses in the act: our eyes, our noses, our ears, our taste buds and our scientific eagerness to learn and to study.

The photo was taken near Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: April 6th, 2012. The time was 17:39:43.

Les Fleurs du Mel