Wild Narcissi In The Grazalema Natural Park
WINTER is largely underrated as a walking and nature-watching time in Andalucía.
I love the crispy blue sky days with a bit of frost in the morning which melts around 11 am, the cool red berries on the Hawthorn bushes, unusual birds which are here only for the winter, and the easiness of walking without the heat. The clear cool air makes the views seem even more vast than ever.
Birds are generally easier to see as there is less foliage for them to hide in, although this makes them more vulnerable to predators. Flowering plants are easier to identify as they stand out more before the spring riot of colour.
In January and February it is good to look out for first orchids and narcissi. Although many are quite small, they are beautiful and rewarding to see especially in large numbers. There are several species of wild narcissi in the Iberian Penninsula, many of them are on the Red list of the Vascular Flora of Spain (Lista Roja de la Flora Vascular Española). It is important to know and protect these delicate flowers, as they are endandgered by animal grazing, people picking or digging them up or chemical spraying on the sides of the roads.
All plants and animals within the Natural Parks are strictly protected by law, some are additionally protected on national level. The earliest narcisus we see around here is the Paper-white Narcisus (Narcisus papyraceus) which starts blooming in November/December. Although locally abundant, it is no less mesmerising to see and admire. Here is a plant photographed yesterday on the 10th of February near Grazalema. By now many of the plants are beginning to wilt but this one was still nice and fresh. There are other white narcisi in Andalucía however they are may be harder to find and they vary in appearance and scent.
The tiny yellow Narcisus baeticus which we are lucky to see in the Grazalema Natural Park has a very limited distribution in Spain: Cadiz, Malaga, Córdoba and the western edge of Granada Province. Soon there will be three other species of small yellow narcissi around, and identifying them is a difficult task. Habitat, time of flowering, scent or the lack of it and finally different shape and size of parts of the flower and leaves are essential to identify these beautiful flowers.
There are real treats amongs the narcissi, such as the two-toned Narcissus bugei found in certain areas around Montejaque and first described by the authors of Guía Botánica de la Serranía de Ronda, Manuel Becerra Parra and Estrella Robles Dominguez published by Editorial La Serranía. The plant may be a new subspecies or variety and is pending evaluation. Narcisus bugei is on the red list of protected Spanish plants listed as VU (vulnerable).