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Autumn narcissi in south-west Iberia

Teresa Farino
28/01/2010 12:34:09

A fabulous display of Autumn Narcissus (Narcissus serotinus) and Narcissus cavanillesii by the Río Guadiana, on the Spanish–Portuguese border.

Posted in: Flora, Endangered Wildlife and Habitats | Andalusia, Extremadura, Alentejo | Mainland Spain, Southern Spain, Western Spain, Mainland Portugal, Southern Portugal


aNarcissus serotinus2 © Teresa FarinoAutumn Narcissus
Narcissus serotinus
© Teresa Farino
During a recent foray to south-western Iberia between 29 October and 3 November 2009, one of the most impressive localities that I visited was the Ponte da Ajuda (Puente de Ajuda), which crosses the Río Guadiana about a dozen kilometres due south of Elvas, on the border between the province of Badajoz (Spain) and the Alto Alentejo (Portugal).

I first discovered this site in October 2000, when I was travelling around the Iberian Peninsula looking for areas to include in the Travellers’ Nature Guide: Spain (Farino, T. & Lockwood, M.), which was published by OUP in 2004. However, it was only after I revisited the site last autumn that I realised its significance in the context of the Iberian flora.


N. cavanillesii x N. serotinus © Teresa FarinoN. cavanillesii × N. serotinus© Teresa FarinoOn both occasions, on the Portuguese bank, I encountered flowering Autumn Squill (Scilla autumnalis), Merendera filifolia, Autumn Snowflake (Leucojum autumnale) and the rather fleshy-leaved winter buttercup Ranunculus bullatus, but these were completely eclipsed by thousands of fragrant, white-flowered Autumn Narcissi (Narcissus serotinus), within which I located one small patch of the deep-yellow blooms of N. cavanillesii (= N. humilis, Tapeinanthus humilis). Individuals displaying morphological characteristics intermediate between these two Narcissus species were also seen, although these didn’t seem to conform to the documented hybrid N. × perez-larae.

Narcissus cavanillesii2 © Teresa FarinoNarcissus cavanillesii© Teresa FarinoBy far the most significant plant of the bunch in an Iberian context is undoubtedly Narcissus cavanillesii, which is endemic to southern Iberia and northern Africa. This species is included on Annexes II and IV of the European Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC), as well as on Annex 2 of Spain’s Ley 42/2007 del Patrimonio Natural y de la Biodiversidad, and is considered to be Critically Endangered in Portugal.

Narcissus cavanillesii1 © Teresa FarinoNarcissus cavanillesii© Teresa FarinoIn Iberia, Narcissus cavanillesii is primarily an Andalucían plant (Cádiz, Córdoba, Huelva, Sevilla and Málaga), but is also known from several outlying populations in the watershed of the river Guadiana, in both Spain and Portugal. The Ponte da Ajuda population described above was apparently only ‘discovered’ by the scientific community in October 2007 (see Marques, I., Rosselló-Graell, A. & Draper, D. (2009) Narcissus cavanillesii en la Cuenca del Guadiana: hacia una conservación tranfronteriza. Acta Bot. Malacitana 34: 1-4), despite the fact that I mentioned its presence at this location on page 439 of our Travellers’ Nature Guide: Spain (albeit under the common name of Tapeinanthus).



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