Sunday, 21 June 2009

“Endemic” flora on the farm.

Anthyllis vulneraria ssp. iberica, ladies finger (a subspecies of kidney vetch) – endemic to the coastal zones of western Europe.

“Endemic” is a word that gets bandied around quite a lot, yet by itself it tells us nothing. If a species is endemic, it means that the species is unique to a particular area (or habitat/ecosystem), and does not occur naturally outside that area, and for this to be meaningful we need that area to be defined also. Some defined areas can be very small (northern Spain) or very large (continental Eurasia), and the habitat/ecosystem can range from localised (the Fynbos on the southern cape of Africa) to extensive (the Mediterranean basin). In reality, any species can be referred to as endemic if we broaden the definition enough – even the omnipresent annual meadow-grass (Poa annua) is endemic to Planet Earth (probably!).

Now that the dry science is out of the way, we can get down to the farm. Of the 345 flora species we have recorded so far, none are endemic to the farm! But the natural ranges of several are restricted enough for us to refer to them as endemic, as long as we define the area. One species and one subspecies are defined as being “endemic to the Cordillera Cantabrica” – the Cordillera Cantabrica being the 480km long mountain range that runs from País Vasco (the Basque Country) to Galicia, via Asturias. Four other species and two subspecies are defined as being endemic to larger areas than this, but are still quite localised when viewed from a global perspective.

Saxifraga canaliculata (a saxifrage with no English name) – endemic to the Cordillera Cantabrica.

Crepis albida ssp. asturica, the Asturian hawksbeard (unofficial English name) – endemic to the Cordillera Cantabrica.

Helictotrichon cantabricum, the Cantabrian oat-grass (unofficial English name) – endemic to the Cordillera Cantabrica, Pyrenees, and the north of the Iberian peninsula.

Linaria triornithophora, the three-birds-flying toadflax – endemic to the northwest of the Iberian peninsula.

Teucrium pyrenaicum, the Pyrenean germander – endemic to southwestern France and northern Spain.

Genista hispanica ssp. occidentalis, the western subspecies of Spanish greenweed – endemic to southwestern France, and the north and centre of the Iberian peninsula.

Narcissus bulbodicum, the scented narcissus – endemic to southwestern Europe (southwest France, Spain and Portugal).

But, however you define endemic, there’s always plenty of stunning flowers to enjoy on the farm!
Entry by Hugh Taylor

1 comment:

Mary Carmen said...

Que flores tan bonitas tenemos en Asturias( y las vemos por vuestro trabajo tan magnifico y constante ) gracias chicos. Mary


Hotel Posada del Valle is a small hotel in Asturias Northern Spain surrounded by its own organic farm and where we are passionate about organic farming, food, and sustainable livelihoods. In this Blog those of us who live and work at Hotel Posada del Valle open a door to share with all of you who are interested in what we are doing.