A Flora and Fauna of Symi

A personal guide to the wildlife of Symi and beyond

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Blog posts : "Mythology"

Golden Samphire

November 16, 2015

Limbarda crithmoides or golden samphire is found all over the Mediterranean and in the UK where in Essex it is at its most northerly range.

The other name is Inula crithmoides and is connected with Helen of Troy who, it is said, held a bunch of Inula helenium when she was abducted by Paris. Helen of Troy had a large armful of these flowers w…

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The Holy Orchid

May 1, 2015

The Holy Orchid or Orchis Sancta covers the eastern Mediterranean from Palestine, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey to Cyprus, Crete and the Aegean. Described in 1759 from Haifa and named "sacred" because it grows in the  area of the Holy Land of Christianity. In Greece it is relatively rare in Crete and Karpathos, forming large populations in Rho…

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Stymphalian Birds

September 18, 2014

It occured  to me after doing some research into an earlier post on tesserae  in Kos that the mosaics surrounding the main floor may well be depicting the 12 labours of Heracles. The man on horse back pursuing a large bird could be a Stymphalian bird and Heracles's sixth labour. The information board was bare. The Stymphalian birds were also kn…

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Sea Squill

August 18, 2014

This plant is the sea squill or Urginea  maritima. Although typical of the region, despite its name, I found this specimen on one of the highest peaks on Symi, just below Stavros Polemou.

This plant is one of the few to flower in the late summer before the Autumn rains. Its leaves have long gone and the tall spike of flowers shoots directly fro…

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Chaste Tree

July 23, 2014

Vitex, its name in Pliny the Elder, is derived from the Latin vieo, meaning to weave or to tie up, a reference to the use of Vitex agnus-castus in basketry.  It's macaronic specific name repeats "chaste" in both Greek and Latin.

Vitex, also a traditional plant in Africa, is a little-known fruit plant that has potential to improve nutr…

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Turtle Dove

June 8, 2014

Perhaps because of Biblical references (especially the well-known verse from the Song of Songs), its mournful voice, and the fact that it forms strong pair bonds, European Turtle Doves have become emblems of devoted love. In the New Testament, two turtle doves are mentioned to have been sacrificed for the Birth of Jesus. In Renaissance Europe, the …

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The Little Owl

April 10, 2014

In Greek mythology, Athene, the Goddess of Wisdom was so impressed by the great eyes and solemn appearance of the little owl that she honoured the bird by making him her favourite among feathered creatures. In the great Acropolis in Athens the bird was protected and bred in large numbers. It was believed that an inner light gave the owl magical pr…

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The House Leek

March 12, 2014

The following is an excerpt by Gwen Drews from a web site called “North Star Herbals” (with permission).

“The House Leek, most commonly known as “Hens and Chickens”, may look like a humble little ground cover plant but its appearance betrays it’s rather noble history. The Greeks believed it was a gift from the god Jupiter to protect against …

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Mandrake

February 9, 2014

Mandrake, Mandragora, Cattle killer, Satan's Apple, love apple, Circe's plant, Dudaim, Ladykins, Mannikin, Racoon, Berry or Bryony roots date back to the Bible. The Ancients, including greeks, romans and celts considered it an anodyne and soporific. The fresh root operates very powerfully as an emetic and purgative. The dried bark of the root was u…

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9 blog posts