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ACT Campus Flora: Wild Flowers

A collection of rare plants on campus grounds.

Wild Flowers.

Greece is home to an extraordinary 6,000 species of wild flowers; A number which, in relation to the country's total area, places Greece in the first place in Europe, with respect to floral density [1]. The floral richness of Greece is probably a direct result of the country's diversity of habitats (wetlands, coastal plains, snowy mountains and more). 

The campus of the American College of Thessaloniki (ACT) is home to a number of wild flower species (among which rare, wild orchids) that thrive due to the college-wide conscientious absence of insecticide, pesticide and fertilizer use. In this way, ACT provides a safe habitat for bees and other insects, who play a crucial role as pollinators. This is particularly important if one considers the fact that pollinator numbers present a constant decline in many ecosystems worldwide, which may have serious implications on food production, (since many plants rely on bees and other insects, in order to set fruits and seeds).

Some of the wild flowers that thrive on our campus may be found below.

Allium ampeloprasum L.

Description: A perennial bulbous plant, native to Southern Europe.  It belongs to the family of Liliaceae. The species is a hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is primarily pollinated by bees. It displays only basal flat leaves and produces one leafless stock at the end of which flowers form an umbel. It is commonly known as wild leek. 

Habitat: Rocky places with sandy, clay soils. 

Flowering Time: May to August

Photo Credit: S. Chatzivasileiou

Bellis perennis L.

Description: A common European species of daisy, of the Asteraceae family, often considered the archetypal species of the name. The species habitually colonizes lawns, hence the term 'lawn daisy'. The flower heads look like single flowers, but actually consist of a number of small, individual flowers called 'florets'. Its small, hairy, spoon-shaped leaves, are green throughout the year. 

Habitat: Lawns, meadows, yards.

Flowering Time: Early May to midsummer.

Photo Credit: S. Chatzivasileiou

Campanula glomerata

Description: A perennial herbaceous plant belonging to the family of Campanulae. Named after the bell-shaped flowers of the plant (campanula=bell in Latin), the specific campanula is also named after the tight grouping of the flowers at the top of the stem glomerata=clustered). The flowers are violet blue and appear in clusters numbering up to 15 flowers, on top of leafy stems above a rosette of ovate toothed green leaves. A very important plant for bees, as it is visited for nectar and pollen. 

Habitat: Forests or dry grasslands, in scrub and open woodland.

Flowering Time: End of May.

Crepis capillaris (L.) Wallr.

Description: A dandelion species belonging to the family of Asteraceae, that is native to Europe. It is an annual plant commonly found on roadsides. The stems often trail along the ground but may also be erect. The leaves form a yellow rosette. 

Habitat: Meadows, roadsides, lawns. 

Flowering Time: Spring and Fall

Photo Credit: S. Chatzivasileiou

Daucus carota L.

Description: A white, flowering plant that belongs to the family of Apiaceae, commonly known as wild carrot. It is a biennial plant that grows up to 50cm in height, with lacey triangular leaves and small, clustered, white flowers. The plant is one of the most beneficial plants for cultivations, as it attracts butterflies and bees. 

Habitat: Sun to partial shade along roadsides, old fields. 

Flowering Time: May through October. 

Photo Credit: S. Chatzivasileiou 

Ficaria verna Huds.

Description: A low-growing, hairless perennial flowering plant that belongs in the family of buttercups (Ranunculaceae). It is characterised by fleshy dark green, heart-shaped leaves and distinctive flowers with bright yellow, glossy petals.

Habitat: Bare, damp grounds. 

Flowering Time: March through April. 

Photo Credit: S. Chatzivasileiou

Hypericum perforatum L.

Description: A flowering, perennial plant in the family of Hypericaceae, commonly known as St. John's-Wort. The leaves are green in color, with characteristic translucent dots, visible when held up to the light. These give the leaves a perforated impression, after which the Latin name of the plant derives. The flowers are bright yellow, have five sepals and petals and bear black dots. 

Habitat: Open woodlands, grasslands and wastelands of temperate regions.

Flowering Time: Mid May

Photo Credit: S. Chatzivasileiou

Lamium purpureum L.

Description: An annual herb also known as the "Purple dead-nettle". Despite its resemblance with nettles, the plant is not related and does not sting (hence the name "dead-nettle"). Its flowers are bright red-purple, with a top hood-like petal, two lower lip petals and fang-like lobes in between. It flowers throughout the year, including mild winters. This allows bees to gather its nectar for food when nectar sources are scarce, hence the importance of the plant for the preservation of bees. 

Habitat: Meadows, forest edges, roadsides and gardens.

Flowering Time: Throughout the year. 

Photo Credit: S. Chatzivasileiou

Malva sylvestris L.

Description: A perennial plant that belongs to the family of Malvaceae. It is a viigorous plant, with flowers of bright purple, with dark veins. The plant is covered with small hairs and usually has creeping stems that can grow up to one meter in height. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by bees. The plant is self-fertile. 

Habitat: Meadows and fallow fields.

Flowering Time: July to September. 

Photo Credit: S. Chatzivasileiou

Ornithogalum umbellatum L.

Description: A herbaceous bulbous plant.  The leaves are narrow and linear, measuring 10-30 cm long and 2-5 mm wide. The white, star-shaped flowers can grow up to 20 cm in height, but are usually shorter. The plant produces 3-10 flowers. Each flower has 6 petals. The outside of the flower is green with white margins. The plant belongs to the family of Asparagaceae and is also known as the Garden star-of-Bethlehem. 

Habitat: This plant prefers moist to wet habitats. 

Flowering Time: Late Spring - early Summer.

Photo Credit: S. Chatzivasileiou

Plantago lanceolata L.

Description: A perennial flowering plant that belongs to the family of Plantaginaceae. The plant forms a rosette with lanceolate leaves and hairy flower stems which bear many small flowers each with a pointed bract. The plant reproduces asexually via cloning, as well as through the dispersion of pollen. 

Habitat: Grasslands and roadsides. 

Flowering Time: Mid April.

Photo Credit: S. Chatzivasileiou

Ranunculus sardous

Description: A species of buttercup native to Europe, it derives its common name (hairy buttercup) from its hairy stems and leaves.  The leaves are palmately compound and the flowers bear five bright yellow petals and five reflexed sepals. They are polinated by bees and flies. 

Habitat: Grassland and wasteland.

Flowering Time: Mid April. 

Photo Credit: S. Chatzivasileiou

Salvia verbenaca L.

Description: A perennial herb in the family of Lamiaceae, with hairy stems and branches. It forms a basal rosette of leaves during the early stages of growth and eventually produces one or more stems from a tough underground rootstock. The plant is commonly known as wild sage.

Habitat: Pastures, grassy woodlands, open forests, lawns and parks. 

Flowering Time: Early April 

Photo Credit: S. Chatzivasileiou

Vicia hybrida L.

Description: An annual, short to medium, hairy plant belonging to the family of Leguminosae. Each plant has 3-8 pairs of leaflets which end in a sharp point. The plant produces solitary yellow, or purplish hairy flowers. 

Habitat: Roadsides, olive groves, field margins. 

Flowering Time: April to early June. 

Photo Credit: S. Chatzivasileiou

Anagallis arvensis

Description: A low growing annual plant also known as blue-scarlet pimpernel, native to Europe, Western Asia and North Africa. It belongs to the family of Primulaceae​. The plant has light green soft ovate leaves and orange, red or blue, symmetric flowers which attract pollinators but are also able to successfully self-polinate. 

Habitat: Light soils.  

Flowering Time: Mid May

Photo Credit: S. Chatzivasileiou 

Capparis spinosa L.

Description: A wild plant in the family of Capparidaceae, native to the Mediterranean, commonly called "caper bush" from the Ancient Greek word kapparis. The shrub is evergreen with small, round to ovate, dark green, semi-succulent leaves.  It produces attractive white-petaled flowers with pale purple stamen, which last only for a day. The plant is frost and heat tolerant. 

Habitat: Gravelly soils, rocky hillsides, cliffs, stone walls and rock crevices.

Flowering Time: May to early Autumn. 

Photo Credit: S. Chatzivasileiou

Convulus arvensis L.

Description: A climbing perennial plant belonging to the family of Convolvulaceae. It also called also called "creeping jenny", "European bindweed", and wild "morning-glory", and is Native to Europe and Asia.   The plant can climb up to 2m through its twining branches (up to 2m).  Its leaves are hairy, alternate and round to arrow-shaped. The white flowers have a funnel-shaped corolla with five lobes white and are solitary. 

Habitat: Poor soils and disturbed ground. 

Flowering Time: Mid May

Photo Credit: S. Chatzivasileiou

Corydalis solida L. Clairv.

Description: A perennial flowering plant in the family of Fumariaceaewith bilateral, symmetric and short-lived purplish to pink tubular flowers. The species is a hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by bees. The plant is self-fertile and named after the Greek word for 'crested lark' due to the fact that flowers resemble a lark.

Habitat: Moist, shady habitats. 

Flowering Time: April to May

Photo Credit: S. Chatzivasileiou

Fumaria officinalis

Description: A herbaceous annual flowering plant that belongs to the poppy family of Papaveraceae. The "smoky" origin of its name comes from the color of its flowers, giving them the appearance of smoke. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by bees and flies. The plant is self-fertile. 

Habitat: Light soil and arable land.

Flowering Time: May to September. 

Photo Credit: S. Chatzivasileiou

Iris orientalis Mill.

Description: A perennial plant native to Turkey and Greece. Its basal leaves are green, sword-like and erect that can grow up to 90cm long.  The flowers are white with yellow blotches and can grow up to 10cm. The flowers are pollinated by insects. 

Habitat: Damp meadows and saline grounds in altitudes between 150 and 1400 meters from the level of the sea. 

Flowering Time: Mid May 

Photo Credit: S. Chatzivasileiou 

Lepidium draba L.

Description: A perennial herb that is also known as "whitetop" or "hoary cress" and belongs to the Brassicaceae (mustard) family. Its leaves are soft, gray-green with fine hairs and heart-shaped bases. Its flowers are small and white, four-petaled and develop in clusters at the apex of the stem. its fruit are heart-shaped seed pods.

Habitat: Mountain slopes, and disturbed soils with moderate moisture.

Flowering Time: April to early summer. 

Photo Credit: S. Chatzivasileiou

Muscari neglectum GUSS. EX TEN.

Description: A perennial wildflower that grows from a bulb. It typically has 4 to 6 narrow leaves and is no taller than 10 cm. Its flowers are spikes covered with grape-like, long-lasting blooms and for this reason it is also known as Common Grape Hyacinth. The name ‟muscari‟ derives from the Greek name, moschos, for musk, due to its sweet fragrance, which attracts pollinators. The species bears both male and female organs (is a hermaphrodite), and is pollinated by insects. It belongs to the family of Hyacinthaceae and it is one of the most important plants for bees as it secretes an abundance of nectar. 

Habitat: Dry grasslands and exposed rocky places. 

Flowering Time: Early March to late April. 

Photo Credit: S. Chatzivasileiou

Papaver rhoeas L.

Description: An annual herbaceous species of flowering plant that belongs to the poppy family, Papaveraceae. Each stem holds single, bright red flowers, with four petals display a black spot at their base. Each plant can produce more than 300 flowers, which however, last only for a day each.

Habitat: Cultivated land and deserted places. 

Flowering Time: Mid April to August. 

Photo Credit: S. Chatzivasileiou

Romulea ramiflora Ten.

Description: A species belonging to the family of Iridaceae with a large distribution in the Mediterranean. The plant bears up to 2-3 flowers, which are whitish, or pale pink with a characteristic yellow throat and purple margins.The genus is dedicated to Romulus, the founder of Rome. 

Habitat: Pastures and grassy areas, sandy, moist soils. 

Flowering time: February to March. 

Photo Credit: S. Chatzivasileiou

Silene colorata Poir.

Description: A species in the Caryophyllaceae family also known as Pink Mediterranean Catchfly. The plant is a perennial that grows about 10-30 cm tall. It displays an erect, simple stem erect with white hairs and simple, opposite leaves. Its flowers are pink and bisexual. Pollination occurs by insects or  self-pollination.  

Habitat: Sandy habitats and olive groves. 

Flowering Time: Mid May

Photo credit: S. Chatzivasileiou 

Silybum marianum

Description: An annual plant belonging to the family of Asteraceae also known as milk thistle. The plant can grow up to 2m high and is characterized by lanceolate leaves and red-purple flower heads that are 4 to 12cms wide. 

Habitat: High fertility disturbed soils that are rich in Nitrogen. 

Flowering Time: Mid May

Photo Credit: S. Chatzivasileiou

Veronica persica

Description: An annual or winter annual herb that reproduces from seed. The flowers are less than one cm wide and are sky-blue with dark stripes and white centers. The plant is self-fertile and seeds continuously. The seeds germinate throughout the year. 

Habitat: Cultivated grounds, gardens, and arable fields. 

Flowering Time: Throughout the year.

Photo Credit: S. Chatzivasileiou 

Vicia sativa L.

Description: An short-lived, annual, climbing legume that belongs to the Leguminosae (also known as Fabaceae) family. By forming a symbiotic relationship with bacteria on the ground, it has the ability to fix nitrogen. Its leaves are alternatively arranged and its flowers are pink, or purple pea-shaped. They are very popular with bumblebees.   

Habitat: Roadsides and olive groves. 

Flowering Time: Mid May

Photo credit: S. Chatzivasileiou

Anemone pavonina Lam.

Description: A bulbous perennial also known as Windflower. The name anemōnē literally translates as "daughter of the wind", in Greek, from the word ánemos (the wind god) and the feminine suffix -ōnē (i.e. daughter).  The plant has mid-dark green, usually toothed leaves divided into 3 leaflets and 7-9 petaled, red, purple, or pink, solitary flowers with a black center, very often circled with white from the base of the petals. It belongs to the family of Ranunculaceae.

Habitat: Sandy, light soil in full sun. 

Flowering time: February to April.

Photo Credit: S. Chatzivasileiou

Chichorium intybus L.

Description: A perennial plant that belongs to the dandelion family of Asteraceae (also known as blue dandelion and chicory). It is a hardy plant that tolerates extreme temperatures well. The species bears both male and female organs (is a hermaphrodite), and is pollinated by bees. The plant is known for attracting wildlife. It produces beautiful bright, pale blue flowers on a woody stem that may exceed 1m in height. 

Habitat: Grassy meadows and arable land. 

Flowering Time: July to October

Photo Credit: S. Chatzivasileiou

Convolvus elegantissimus MILL.

Description: A climbing perennial plant that belongs to the family of Convolvulaceae​. It displays spiral leaves and pink / lilac flowers that resemble a  trumpet and have five sepals. Its seeds may remain in the soil for decades before sprouting. 

Habitat: Roadsides and grasslands. 

Flowering Time: Late April to July

Photo Credit: S. Chatzivasileiou

Crocus pulchellus Herb.

Description: An autumn crocus belonging to the family of Iridaceae. The plant displays a pale lilac flower with purple vains and a short yellow throat. "Pulchellus" means pretty. It is a Balkan species common in Northern Greece and the island of Thasos. 

Habitat: Light grass, under small trees. 

Flowering Time: Late September - Late November. 

Photo Credit: S. Chatzivasileiou

Geranium molle L.

Description: Although it can grow up to 30cm in height, it is usually much shorter. The whole plant is hairy, with flowers of approximately 1cm.  The species is a hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees as well as a process called "Cleistogomy" (self-pollination when the flowers do not open). The plant is also well known for attracting wildlife.  

Habitat: Dry grassland and cultivated grounds.

Flowering Time: April to September. 

Photo Credit: S. Chatzivasileiou

Lathirus cicera L.

Description: A species of wild peas, native to Europe and the Middle East and belongs to the family of Leguminosae. The species has both female and male organs (is a hermaphrodite) and is pollinated by insects. The plant possesses the ability to produce Nitrogen. This is acomplished through a symbiotic relationship with soil bacterial which form nodules on its roots. The produced Nitrogen is beneficiary not only for the plant itself, but nearby plants as well. 

Habitat: Sunny fields and cultivated land. 

Flowering Time: 

Photo Credit: S. Chatzivasileiou

Linum bienne MILL.

Description: Linum bienne, is a flowering plant in the genus Linum, native to the Mediterranean region and western Europe. The plant, also known as pale flax, is a perennial plant with long stems that reach up to 60 cm in height and slim leaves. The pale blue flowers have five petals and are characterized by darker blue streaks. The flowers bear both the male and female reproductive organs and are pollinated by bees and wasps.

HabitatDry, sunny calcareous or neutral grasslands

Flowering time: Late spring - summer. 

Photo Credit: S. Chatzivasileiou

Oxalis pes-caprae

Description: A flowering plant known as the Bermuda Buttercup, that belongs to the family of Oxalidaceae. It is a perennial herbaceous plant with upright flowering stems that may grow up to 30 cm tall. Its leaves have three heart-shaped leaflets often with dots. The plant produces bright yellow flowers with five petals, which open only during sunny periods and close again at night or during dull weather. 

Habitat: Sandy soil in a warm dry position. 

Flowering Time: Early March - Late May. 

Photo Credit: S. Chatzivasileiou

Portulaca oleracea L.

Description: An annual succulent that belongs to the family of Portulacaceae, commonly known as purslaneThe stems are round, and range in color from light green to reddish brown. The leaves alternate along the stems. The plant blooms in yellow flowers, consisting of five yellow petals which close during the night. 

Habitat: Field crops and lawns. 

Flowering Time: Mid Summer through Early Fall. 

Photo Credit: S. Chatzivasileiou

Santolina chamaecyparissus

Description: An aromatic plant in the family of Asteraceae, also known as cotton - lavender. It is a small bush native to countries of Western Mediterranean. Its leaves are small and silvery green. The plant produces yellow flower heads and is extremely resistant to drought. 

Flowering Time: July to August. 

Habitat: Dry, sandy ground. 

Photo Credit: S. Chatzivasileiou

Trifolium campestre Schreber

Description: An annual species of clover that is native to Europe. Its name (campestre) means "of the fields". It is a short plant, growing up to 30 cm tall, with distinctive yellow flowerheads which comprise of 20 - 40 individual flowers, that resemble hop flowers (hence its common name "hop trefoil"). The leaves are alternate and trifoliate, with three elliptical leaflets. It is an important plant for agriculture as it manages to replenish the soil of lost nutrients. 

Habitat: Dry, sandy grasslands, fields, roadsides, and cultivated land. 

Flowering Time: April to May

Photo Credit: S. Chatzivasileiou

Scorpiurus muricatus L.

Description: A frost-tender annual plant belonging to the Leguminosae family that produces tiny pea-line yellow, hairy flowers. Its common name is "caterpillar plant" for the shape of its seed pods. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs). A hugely beneficial plant for the ecosystem, as it can produce Nitrogen (essential for plant growth). 

Habitat: Sandy well-drained soils.

Flowering Time: Mid April 

Photo Credit: S. Chatzivasileiou

Vicia cracca

Description: A native to Europe and Asia species of vetch belonging to the family of Fabaceae​. Its leaves are compound with 5 to 12 pairs of leaflets, and tendril at the end that helps the plant climb.  The flowers are typically pink to blue-violet and pea-shaped and rich with pollen so they attract bees, flies and butterflies of different species.

Habitat: Grassland and disturbed fields. 

Flowering Time: Mid May to August

Photo Credit: S. Chatzivasileiou

Vinca herbacea

Description: A perennial flowering plant in the family of Apocynaceaethat that grows as a vine. The leaves appear opposite from each other and glossy.  The radiantly symmetrical flowers appear in late summer and are blue-violet, with five petals fused into a cup.

Habitat: Meadows and Fields

Flowering Time: Late April to early June

Photo Credit: S. Chatzivasileiou

Sources - Bibliography.

British Royal Horticultural Society, "Pollinators: Decline in Numbers". Web Article

[1] Papiomitoglou, Vangelis. Wild flowers of Greece. Rethymno: Mediterraneo Editions, 2006. Print.

Schönfelder, Peter, Ingrid Schönfelder, and N. J. Turland. Wild flowers of the Mediterranean. Oxford, England: John Beaufoy Publishing, 2017. Print.

Polunin, Oleg, and Anthony Huxley. Flowers of the Mediterranean. London: Chatto & Windus, 1987. Print.

 

Note: While every effort has been made to ensure the information presented in this guide is accurate and up-to-date, if you find any errors, or have any comments / suggestions, feel free to send them to chatziva[at]act.edu.

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