Mediterranean Garden Society
Associazione Giardino Mediterraneo

Wild flower walks in the Sibillini Mountains Italian

June 2023 - And yet another birthday walk ...

Always the best birthday present for me is a visit to the Sibillini mountains, this year was no exception. Before we reached the top of the mountain roads we had seen some splendid flowers on the grass verges. 

Silene  gallica (Italian catchfly); Polygala vulgaris (Milkwort); Trifolium montanum (Mountain clover); Securigera varia (Crown vetch); Helianthemum nummularium (Common rockrose); Galium verum (Lady's bedstraw); *Lithospermum purpurocaeruleum (Purple Gromwell). See more listed below.

Securigera varia
Carduus nutans
Dactylorhiza maculata

We stopped where we had seen Dictamnus albus (Burning Bush) a few years ago, scanned the area, nothing. Then, no more than 100 metres further on  there were several specimens. Success!  Considering they are supposedly not endemic, it is rewarding to see them spreading.  Then we found *Legousia speculum-veneris (Large Venuses looking glass).

Legousia speculum-veneris
Dictamnus albus

On the top the Asphodelus albus (white asphodels) had mostly gone over, with just a few flowers decorating their tops. We had our picnic in the middle of the meadow, blanket spread, red wine opened and lunch consumed amid calls from skylarks, crickets and copious insects buzzing. Strangely they were no notable flowers, but the peace and tranquillity made up for this.

Filipendula ulmaria

Whilst I continued to soak up the atmosphere, Pete went exploring the area where we know wild peonies (Paeonia officinalis)  grow, but alas they had all gone over, with just ripening seed heads. This was particular disappointing as we had first seen them here on my birthday many years ago.

After our picnic we drove to another favourite area where we found a beautiful large white milkwort *(Polygala nicaeensis subsp. mediterranea), Thyme broomrape (Orobanche alba), Lesser butterfly orchids (Platanthera bifolia)  and Fragrant orchids (Gymnadenia conopsea).

Gymnadenia conopsea
Orobanche alba
Polygala nicaeensis subsp. mediterranea

Returning on the road around the mountain top, Peter stopped the car quite sharply. Lo and behold there were peonies in full flower on a north facing bank. Euphoria! What a splendid day - which we celebrated in a restaurant later.

Paeonia officinalis 

* these flowers are a new find for us (but some now, we often forget that we’ve seen before, with our older brains)!!

*Anchusa azurea (Large blue alkanet); Lamium purpureum (Red dead nettle); Campanula rotundifolia (Spreading harebell); Tripleurospermum inodorum (Scentless mayweed); *Anthericum liliago (St.Bernards lily); Stachys germanica (Downey woundwort); Rabelera holostea (Greater stitchwort); Prunella vulgaris (Sealheal); Dianthus carthusianorum (Carthusian pink); Colutea arborescens (Bladder senna); Vicia cracca (Tufted vetch); Lotus corniculatus (Birdsfoot trefoil);  Linum perenne (Perennial flax); Salvia pratensis (Meadow clary); Knautia arvensis (Field scabious);  Filipendula ulmaria (Meadow sweet); Carduus nutans (Musk thistle); Centaurea montana (Mountain cornflower); Galium saxatile (Heath bedstraw); Myosotis arvensis (Field forgetmenot); Thymus vulgaris (thyme); Tragopogon porrifolius (Salsify); Anacamptis morio (Greenwinged orchid); Gymnadenia conopsea (Fragrant orchid); Platanthera bifolia (Lesser butterfly orchid); Dactylorhiza maculata (Heath spotted orchid); Anacamptis pyramidalis (Pyramidal orchid); Orobanche alba (Thyme broomrape); Centaurea jacea (Brown knapweed)

April 2023
They say 'It’s your birthday'

...well, it was Pete's, and what a day!
Unusual amounts of snow on the Sibillini‘s have prevented us from undertaking our flower walks this year. It was Pete's birthday and he decided we should go anyway.  From our village it didn’t look promising as the mountains appeared to be still white all over.

Arriving at the foothills, we saw that our usual approach was clear, passing many patches of Lunaria annua (honesty) growing in the hedgerows.

Lunaria annua

Then to our amazement we found a large patch of Orchis mascula and two Bee orchids, which I always find difficult to identify. On checking they were Ophrys sphegodes.

Orchis mascula
Ophrys sphegodes

A little further on we saw Sanguisorba minor, Primula vulgaris, Hepatica, Galanthus nivalis, Helleborus viridis, Ornithogalum umbellatum, Muscari neglectum, Pulmonaria officinalis, Colutea arborescens, Euphorbia myrsinites, Scilla verna and patches of beautiful sedges.

Pulmonaria officinalis

On approaching the highest point there appeared to be a swathe of trees in white blossom, then we suddenly realised that they were all shrouded in hoar frost, making a spectacular vista.

Hoar frost 
Picnic spot

The road around the top is usually blocked with snow drifts, but today it was totally clear. After our picnic sitting on the steps of the little house, we went to another favourite area. Here we had to negotiate a snowdrift, and then we discovered Ruscus aculeatus, Daphne odora and Corydalis solida in flower, plus more primroses and hepatica. There were also hundreds of Saxifraga rotundifolia leaves poking through the mossy ground, but far too early for the flowers.

Ruscus aculeatus

On our descent, just when we were thinking, 'what a splendid day', we came across a bank covered in hundreds of Anemone hortensis. What a wonderful sight to end the day.

Text: Jan Thompson. Photos: Pete Thompson

September Walk

Our son, who was staying with us, said he had not been to Focè for a long time, could we go? It was a lovely day so that was what we did.

Foce is 945m above sea level, is located within the Monti Sibillini National Park, on the border between the Marche and Umbria. There are a few houses and a bar which are surrounded by the chain of the Sibillini Mountains and develop along the furrow of a valley which is the result of an ancient and intense glacial action, which extends southwards until it joins the Valley of Lake Pilato.

Foce village

The landscape surrounding Focè is extremely varied: mountain peaks, gorges resulting from erosive phenomena due to the flow of springs, natural waterfalls and waterways with expanses of meadows and woods. The climate offers cool summers with very rigid winters, during which temperatures down to -25 C can be reached on the highest peaks. The vegetation varies with altitude, where the downy oakblack hornbeam and ash wood give way to the beech forest.

View up the valley with blackberry bushes

Having recently had knee surgery I cannot walk too quickly so we strolled up the valley viewing the vegetation along the way. We note that the grassy areas are covered in large patches of small leaved cranesbill (Geranium pusillum). Then one or two smaller patches of Campanula dichotoma, a new plant for us.

Geranium pusillum
Campanula dichotoma

Along the walkway at the side of the grassed areas are huge bushes of blackberries (Rubus sanctus) with several folk gathering the fruits. There are also large areas of dwarf elder (Sambucus ebulus) scattered here and there covered in shiny berries. Tufts of 'snow in summer' (Cerastium tomentosum) are visible on the rocky areas, but unfortunately no flowers are visible. There were several species of butterfly dashing about and quite a few praying mantis.

Sambucus ebulus
Cerastium tomentosum

A few sad looking mulleins (Verbascum longifolium) are scattered around, which have seen better days. Then we walk past some decaying tree trunks covered in 'bugs' later identified as European firebugs (Pyrrhocoris apterus). Easily recognizable due to its striking red and black colouration,

Verbascum longifolium
Pyrrhocoris apterus

Rosa canina

I'm afraid this time I didn't manage to get very far up the valley, but Nolan walked as far as the tree line. Not many plants this time but certainly worth the visit, it is a wonderful area to explore.

View up the valley

The photo at the beginning of this section shows the valley walk in the Autumn with my husband and other son enjoying the autumn sunshine, taken a few years ago.

Jan Thompson
Photos: Nolan and Pete Thompson

June 2022 - Special birthdays

I have always liked to celebrate my birthdays with wild flower walks, and this year was no exception.

Previous birthday walks have been wonderful, often with new species recorded, but this birthday was a real surprise for me, as Peter had booked a wild flower holiday in the Dolomites, so many more new species have been recorded.

Although the Sibillini mountains are 2470mts high their contours and rolling meadows are not as dramatic as the Dolomites, which offer a wide variety of habitats, from meadows and woodland to glacial valleys and scree slopes under sheer rock faces.

So this is a 'blog' about not one walk but a series of walks and outings over the holiday week.

Day one
We took a bus ride from Pedraces into Corvara. From here we trekked through meadows and woodland which offered a kaleidoscope of colour. After recent knee surgery this walk was challenging, and quite strenuous for me, but one not to be missed. Along the way we saw some familiar flowers and many new ones. Dactylorhiza majalis was the first spot, new to us. Then plenty of Orchis mascula, Clematis alpina, huge areas of Trollius europaeus, Geranium sylvaticum and many others. Then I thought I had seen a yellow gentian, but no I was mistaken. Our main flower guide corrected me, it was a Veratrum viride, another new plant for us. The walk culminated with a very special plant for me, Cypripedium calceolus, which I had seen once before, but many years ago. I had forgotten how large they are, 8cms across!  And then a Moneses uniflor, another new discovery.

Cypripedium calceolus

Day two
A day to recover, after a long walk yesterday we planned a less strenuous day, wandering the quiet lanes behind our accommodation but still marvelled at the array of species growing either side of the lane.  Even here we saw something new to us, Cirsium heterophyllum, then some lovely Broomrapes, Orobanche alba.

Cirsium heterophyllum

In the afternoon took a relaxing drive along back lanes until deciding to stop at the edge of a pine wood. Exploring the area we were rewarded with an Ophrys insectifera (just one plant) and several Erigeron humilis.

Day three
We took a two-stage gondola from Corvara. Arriving at the first stage we wandered around the area and saw Ranunculus lyallii, Pedicularis verticillata, Leontopodium nivale, and a plethora of Dactylorhiza viridis​.

Pedicularis verticillata

Dactylorhiza viridis

After coffee and a cake in the Refugio, we travelled upwards in the second gondola to a higher point, 2150 metres, which gave us the opportunity to see the wide variety of plants which survive in the rock and scree.  Some of these are the first to emerge each year, even before the snow has melted. Soldanella minima, Soldanella alpina, Boltonia asteroides, cushions of Thlaspi rotundiolium, and a tiny violet, which we photographed with a small coin to emphasize its size and is yet to be identified.

Soldnella alpina

Soldanella minima

Day four
Today we decided to travel further afield and drove the quiet lanes exploring the hedgerows, finding Pedicularis tuberosa, Platanthera bifolia, Orchis mascula, Pinguicula vulgaris, Solenanthus apeninnus, Rhododendron ferrugineum, Aconitum napellus   Phyteuma orbiculare and others. The fields around here were full of Bistorta officinalis, Tofieldia calyculata, Campanula rotundifoliaand Campanula barbata.

Day five
Today we travelled to Val Gardena. We had been told that there was a rather easy walk with many flowers to see.  Well, I think we missed the correct path, this was no easy walk, but not too strenuous. Nevertheless, we were rewarded with more new flowers. Nestled on a rocky outcrop Erigeron alpiniformis, Then we were further rewarded with coffee and cake at the refugio.

Erigeron alpiniformis

Although going up wasn't too bad the descent turned out to be a tortuous track which required full concentration at all times. But not to be daunted, we continued and we did see a flower that no one else had seen, Solidago virgaurea. The path eventually joined the 'easy route' we should have taken and on exploring this, we found a large area of Lilium bulbiferum.

Lilium bulbiferum

By now it was time for lunch, so we stopped at the lower Refugio and ordered a well deserved pannini and something to wash it down (beer). Driving away from this area later, towards 'home' we spotted some Lilium martagon on the road side bank which we stopped to photograph.

Lilium martagon

Last day
Another day exploring the flora of the high alpine meadows. Today is a little cooler and there is a promise of rain by midday, so we start early.

Taking two gondolas from Predaces we travelled to le Croce. (2045mts). Just as we leave the second gondola Pete spotted a Pasque flower, the first we have seen which had not yet turned to seed. We wandered around the area and found Pyrola media, Polemonium caeruleum, Dactylorhiza majalis, Orchis mascula, Parnassia palustris, Allium schoenoprasum, Arnica montana, and a huge area of Geum rivale.

We came across a couple taking photographs of a large area of Vanilla orchids, Pete asked them if they knew that their perfume is vanilla and suggested that they smell them. 'It’s vanilla!'  They both exclaimed, in Italian.

Making our way down to the Gondola, in the shade of a few trees we see a tiny milk vetch, a real beauty. It turns out to be another new one for us, Astragalis alpinus.

Astragalis alpinus

What a week, plenty of exercise, a wonderful assortment of wild flowers, with so many new ones recorded, and new friends made. What could be better?

Jan Thompson

The area we explored was around the Alta Badia and Val Gardena valleys.
Accommodation at 1300m
Val Gardena: we walked up to 2220m, which sounds impressive until you realise we started just 100m lower.
Le Croce gondolas takes you up to 2045m
The gondolas we took at Corvara takes you up to 2150m
The now infamous Marmalada is the highest point in the Dolomites at 3343m

Addendum: to avoid any confusion: the photo with a small coin mentioned in the text at Day 3 (an unidentified violet) was not included on this webpage! I now know that the small 'violet' is actually Silene acaulis (moss campion) and not a violet. The other photo with a coin, Soldenella, also emphasises the size of the plant.

List of plants seen
Alpine clematis - Clematisalpina
Round headed Rampion - Phyteuma orbiculare
Clustered Bellflower - Campanula glomerata
Orange hawkweed - Hieracium aurantiacum
Ragged Robbin - Silene flos-cuculi 
Red Campion - Silene dioica 
Bladder campion - Silene vulgaris
Alpine forget-me-not - Myosotis alpestris 
Mountain Milkwort - Polygala alpestris
False white helleborine - Veratrum viride
Lady's slipper orchid - Cypripedium calceolus
One flowered wintergreen - Moneses uniflora
Wood cranes bill - Geranium sylvaticum
Broad leaved marsh orchid - Dactylorhiza majalis
Alpine sanfoin - Hedysarum hedysaroides 
Bistort - Bistorta officinalis 
Hoary plantain - Plantago media
Oxeye daisy - Leucanthemum vulgare
Thyme broomrape - Orobanche alba
Yellow melancholy thistle - Cirsium heterophyllum,
Mountain avens - Dryas octopetala
Alpine butterwort - Pinguicula alpina
Swiss bedstraw - Galium aristatum
Large flowered butterwort - Pinguicula grandiflora
Cotton grass - Eriophorum angustifolium
Bugloss - Echium vulgare
Birdseye primrose - Primula farinosa
Common kidney vetch - Anthyllis vulneraria
Yellow rattle - Rhinanthus minor
Globe flower - Trollius europaeus
Tofield asphodel - Tofieldia calyculata
Veronica - Veronica officinalis 
Germander speedwell - Veronica chamaedrys
Sheepsbit scabious - Jasione montana
Fly orchid - Ophrys insectifera
Alpine ladys mantel - Alchemilla alpina 
Black Vanilla orchid - Gymnadenia nigra
Edelweiss - Leontopodium nivale
Fragrant orchid - Gymnadenia conopsea
Frog orchid - Dactylorhiza viridis
Alpine milkwort - Polygala alpina 
Orange lily - Lilium bulbiferum
Birdsfoot trefoil - Lotus corniculatus
Spreading bellflower - Campanula patula
Harebell - Campanula rotundifolia
Bearded harebell - Campanula barbata 
Alpenrose - Rhododendron ferrugineum,
Least snowbell - Soldanella minima
Dwarf snowbell - Soldanella alpina
Alpine aster - Aster alpinus
Alpine buttercup - Ranunculus calandrinioides
Round leaved pennycress - Thlaspi arvense
Chamois cress - Hornungia alpina 
Spiniest thistle - Cirsium spinosissimum
Round leaved wintergreen - Pyrola rotundifolia
Bladder gentian - Gentiana utriculasa
Spring gentian - Gentiana verna
King of the alps - Eritrichium nanum
Alpine gypsophila - Gypsophila repens
Herb bennett - Geum urbanum
Lesser butterfly orchid - Platanthera bifolia
Blue Lupin - Lupinus angustifolius
Matted globularia - Globularia cordifolia
Meadow clary - Salvia pratensis
Alpine rose - Rosa pendulina
Wolfsbane - Aconitum napellus 
Early purple orchids - Orchis mascula
Dragon mouth - Arethusa bulbosa
Montain valerian - Valeriana uliginosa
Alpine bartsia - Bartsia alpina
Large flowered butterwort - Pinguicula grandiflora
Wood scabious - Knautia dipsacifolia
One flowered fleabane - Erigeron uniflorus
Alpine bistort - Bistorta vivipara
Mountain buttercup - Ranunculus lyallii
Sawleaved moon daisy - Leucanthemum vulgare.
Ascending lousewort - Pedicularis ascendens
Globularia leaved valerian - Globularia cordifolia
Greater Burnet Saxifrage - Pimpernella major
Rock rose - Helianthemum nummularium
Alpine rockrose - Helianthemum apenninum
Martagon lily - Lilium martagon
Ground ivy - Glechoma hederacea 
Grass of Parnassus - Parnassia palustris,
Pasque flower - Pulsatilla vulgaris
Thrift - Parsimonia
Water avens - Geum rivale
Intermediate wintergreen - Pyrola media
Alpine woad - Isatis tinctoria
Jacobs ladder - Polemonium caeruleum
Apennine rattle - Rhinanthus minor
Cow wheat - Melampyrum pratense
Large flowered selfheal - Prunella vulgaris
Alpine milk thistle - Silybum marianum
Black rampion - Phyteuma nigrum
Solenantus - Solenanthus apenninus
Herb bennet - Geum urbanum
Bitter milkwort - Polygala amara
Alpine clover - Trifolium alpinum
Arnica - Arnica montana
Pink lousewort - Pedicularis rosea
Chives - Allium schoenoprasum
Alpine fleabane - Erigeron alpiniformis
Whorled lousewort - Pedicularis verticillata
False aster - Boltonia asteroides
Goldenrod - Solidago virgaurea
Alpine bearberry - Arctostaphylos uva-ursi
Alpine butterwort - Pinguicula alpina
Marsh hawk's-beard - Crepis paludosa
Mountain clover - Trifolium montanum
Alpine milkvetch - Astragalus alpinus
Butterwort - Pinguicula vulgaris
Long beaked yellow lousewort - Pedicularis tuberosa 

April 2022

Our first flower soirée since the snow has receded up the mountains. Our son and family went two weeks ago and reported that there was still deep snow on the zig-zag walk in places.

We began our journey with a stop at the house with the fantastic multicoloured anemone lawn: it didn't fail to please. This year there are more flowers than ever covering an area of some 60 sq m.

‘Anemone lawn

Then our usual stop for Paninis at the shop in Pian di Pieca, where the ladies in the shop were jealous of us because they are working and we are going to see all the lovely flowers. Our first 'stop' is for several Green Winged orchids (Anacamptis morio), and just a couple of metres further on were several 'bee' orchids. I later identify these as Early Spider orchid (Ophrys sphegodes).

Anacamptis morio

Ophrys sphegodes

Worryingly there was nothing for quite a long way, but eventually we reach a sunny area in one of the bends which has Galanthus nivalis, Primula vulgaris, Anemone ranunculoides, Scilla bifolia, and quite a large area of garlic leaves, no flowers yet.

Garlic leaves

As we travel along Piani di Ragnolo it was obvious that the snow had only just melted as there were no signs of flowers except Crocus vernus and I also noticed a few stems of Asphodelus alba beginning to appear, so we veered off at the top towards an area which is normally covered in flowers - nothing, again far too early, so we head around the mountain towards the zig-zag.

Crocus vernus

Asphodelus alba

At the zig-zag we see the path is free of snow, so with lunch in the backpack we set off. There are hundreds of Hepatica nobilis along the banks, I remember on our previous visit last year noticing how many leaves were emerging, so I'm not surprised. Along the pathway there are clumps of Pulmonaria apennina, Helianthemum nummularium and carpeting the track-way pushing their way through the tangled grass are many Anemone apennina. On the sides of the banks there are clumps of Ruscus aculeatus, Helleborus viridis and dotted here and there a few Muscari commutatum and Orchis pauciflora.

Hepatica nobilis

Pulmonaria apennina

Orchis pauciflora

We eat lunch in the sunshine at the top and have a rest. Descending is hard work these days but so rewarding! It was certainly worth the effort to complete the climb.

A well deserved rest

Text: Jan Thompson
Photos: Pete and Jan Thompson

List of plants found
Anacamptis morio
Ophys sphegodes
0rchis paucifolia
Hepatica nobilis
Galanthus nivalis
Anemone hortensis
Anemone appennina
Helleborus viridis sp bocconei
Crocus vernus
Scilla bifolia
Ruscus aculeatus
Daphne laureola
Tussilago farfara
Pulmonia vulgaris
Helianthemum nummularium
Viola suavis
Corydalis cava
Cornus mas
Ornithogalum umbellatum

June 2021 - Piano Grande, Umbria ... more of a wander than a walk

The Piano Grande is a vast flat valley, once a glacial lake, trapped between high mountains. The areas are cultivated for wild flowers and also lentils. Some years it is a kaleidoscope of color. The famous town of Castelluccio dominates the end of the main valley. It was mostly destroyed by the recent earthquakes.

It's a little later than we usually visit here and some of the fields have already been harvested. First we explored the roadside verges which have been missed by the tractor or harvester and found quite a few different species such as Venus's Looking Glass, Greater Mullion, Hogweed and Cornflower. We also found a field cricket.

Triodanis perfoliata

Heracleum sphondylium

Gryllus campestris

We then drove the various roadways exploring the wild areas; such a kaleidoscope of colour and such a huge variety of plants, especially Pete's favourite: Meadow Clary. Some of the photographs show you the number of varieties.

Salvia pratensis

A kaleidoscope of colour

Più varietà

Foeniculum vulgare

Leucanthemum vulgare

As we wandered the wild uncut areas we saw many tarantula burrows amongst the wildflowers. Whilst exploring Pete found two types of Burnet moth both on the same flower head, and disturbed a Skylark.

Zygaena filipendulae above the flower and Zygaena lonicerae below

We chose a different route for our return journey and saw amongst other things, Figwort, Downy woundwort, Pale Flax and lots of honeysuckle.

Stachys germanica

On the way home we reminisced about all the things we had seen here on different visits over the last 17 years, each one marvellous. Another lovely day out discovering wildflowers - what more could one want!

Jan Thompson
Photos: Pete and Jan Thompson

List of plants found:

Hog weed - Heracleum sphondylium
Bistort - Bistorta officinalis
Common Sorrel - Rumex acetosa
Cornflower - Centaurea cyanus
Lesser stitchwort - Stellaria graminea
Corn spurry - Spergula arvensis
Common poppy - Papaver rhoeas
Everlasting Pea - Lathyrus latifolius
Sanfoin - Onobrychis viciifolia
White Melilot - Melilotus albus
Meadow buttercup - Ranunculus acris
Wild candytuft - Botrychium ascendens
Tufted vetch - Vicia cracca
Pale flax - Linum bienne
Common milk wort - Polygala vulgaris
Fennel - Foeniculum vulgare
Ladies bedstraw - Galium verum
Heath bedstraw - Galium saxatile
Vervain - Verbena officinalis
Green alkanet - Pentaglottis sempervirens
Meadow clary - Salvia pratensis
Downy woundwort - Stachys germanica
Figwort - Scrophularia
Great mullein - Verbascum thapsus
Eyebright - Euphrasia officinalis
Yellow rattle - Rhinanthus minor
Small scabious - Scabiosa columbaria
Venus’ looking glass - Triodanis perfoliata
Honeysuckle - Lonicera periclymenum
Oxeye daisy - Leucanthemum vulgare
Ribbed Melilot - Melilotus officinalis
Wood vetch - Vicia sylvatica 
Woodruff – Galium odoratum

June 2021 - We went in search of Violet Birds-nest Orchids

Remembering a place we had visited before where we had seen many violet birds-nest orchids (Limodorum arbortivum) became the target for the today (see May 2017 Mountain walk). After perusing the maps for a while we found a cross marking the spot. Collecting paninis as usual we travelled through Sarnano towards Amandola looking for a turning to Toccarelli and Garulla

En route there was plenty to see in the hedgerows and roadside banks along the way, very different vegetation to where we usually visit, more of a woodland type of environment. One special orchid we found on a corner of the lane was what we believe to be Dactylorhiza maculata subsp. saccifera.

Dactylorhiza maculata subsp. saccifera

When lunchtime arrived we found ourselves near to refugio Garulla, which is on the Grande Anello dei Sibillini, and had our picnic on the benches outside - how convenient!

Hypericum perforatum

Campanula persicifolia

Linum pubescens

On reaching the spot on the map we remembered that we had first visited this area in 2004 when on the way back from purchasing a dishwasher in Comunanza. So with dishwasher on board we had travelled home exploring the lanes along the way, and found this area to be a very rewarding, and it still is today.

Colutea arborescens

Campanula rapunculus

Anthyllis vulneraria

Cistus crispus

Sadly this time there were no violet birds-nest orchids, and no sign of them having been there this year, but still a very rewarding area to visit.

Neottia nidus-avis

A full list of plants seen:

Kidney vetch - Anthyllis vulneraria
Cistus - Cistus crispus
Spiny restharrow - Ononis spinosa
Bladder senna - Colutea arborescens
Rampion bellflower - Campanula rapunculus
Rock rose
Carmine daisy
Flax - Linum pubescens
Peach flowered bellflower – Campanula persicifolia
Saint John’s-wort - Hypericum perforatum
Feverfew - Tanacetum parthenium
Pyramidal orchid - Anacamptis pyramidalis

May 2021

We have never known the snow stay on the mountains this late in the spring. We tend to monitor it from the top of our driveway to see if a flower walk could be possible. Today looks good. Pete checks the weather forecast - sunny and the wind is 'vento debole' (light).

Right, let's get moving. Along our route we see many Tragopogon porrifolius inthe hedgerows. As we are nearing Pian di Pieca the wind seems to be very strong. We collect paninis on the way as usual and the ladies in the shop comment about the windy weather. Pete mentions to them about the weather forecast on the TV - vento debole, ha ha ha!

Taking our usual route the first find is a collection of beautiful Orchis msacula, then across the road a Ophrys sphegodes, just the one!

Orchis maculata

Ophrys sphegodes

A little further along there are a number of Cephalanthera damasonium which are literally growing in the rock debris deposited by the snow plough. They have obviously struggled through to flower. Isn't nature wonderful?

Cephalanthera damasonium

Continuing upwards it's obvious that the snow has only just left this area as the grass appears dead, straw coloured and as if it has just been rolled. Hidden amongst it all there are lots of tiny grape hyacinths wanting to be seen. There are also a few narcissus poetica, and we note how short they are, due to the late covering of snow. We could also see early signs of asphodels which usually cover this area by now.

At this point we decided to walk and have a look around. The wind here was very strong and gusting.   Pete managed to go for short walk, I tried and failed. I managed to get to the back of the car sheltering from the wind, then struggled back in again - not for me, my viewing was from the car window. I found it impossible to stand in the wind. Pete was having to lean into the wind just to stay upright.

Moving on we see cowslips and corydalis on the banks and more Narcissus poetica, which are still very short, only 8 cms tall.

Primula veris

Polygala nicaeensis

Lunchtime, because it's so windy we need to find a sheltered place to sit and eat our paninis. We never have our lunch in the car. We travel on passing a huge patch of Doronium columnae growing like a curtain in the side of the rocks, until we reach the entrance of the zig-zag walk, which is fairly sheltered. You know sometimes I think it's the only reason we go for flower walks, the paninis are so good!

Veronica officinalis

After lunch we travel on to where we have seen many types of orchids growing. We are not disappointed. There are five species, all growing together covering a large area. Orchis pallens, Orchis pauciflora, Orchis tridentata, Orchis morio, Dactylorhiza sambucina, what a beautiful sight, although there are large areas devoid of plants. There are not as many flowers here this visit, all due to the late snow. Never mind another later visit will be planned I am sure. 

Orchis pallens

Orchis pauciflora

Dactylorhiza sambucina

Carpet of orchids

NB: The photographs were all taken by Pete, at 1/800 to 1/1200 due to the high winds, and I think they are amazing all things considering.

Jan Thompson

Tragopogon porrifolius - Salsify
Muscari neglectum - Grape hyacinth
Onobrychis viciifolia - Common sanfoin
Anemonoides ranunculoides - Yellowwood anemone,
Corydalis cava - Corydalis
Viola tricolr - blue and yellow pansies
Globularia meridionalis - Globe daisy
Polygala nicaeensis - Milkwort
Doronicum columnae - Leopards bane
Sanguisorba minor - Salad burnet
Cyclamen repandum - Spring sowbread
Lotus corniculatus - Dovesfoot trefoil
Dracunculus vulgaris - Dragon's teeth
Narcissus poeticus - Narcissus
Galeopsis tetrahit - Red hemp nettle
Petasites hybridus - Butter bur
Orchis pallens - Pale flowered orchid
Orchis pauciflora - Sparse flowered orchid
Orchis tridentata, Tooth orchid
Orchis morio - Green winged orchid
Dactylorhiza sambucina - Elderflowered orchid
Cephalanthera damasonium - Large white Helleborine
Ophrys sphegodes - Early spider orchid
Anacamptis morio - Green winged orchid

March 2021

It's the first of March, our Wedding Anniversary, and a beautiful sunny day. We decide to celebrate by going to the mountains. We can see from the top of our driveway that there's still plenty of snow up there, but we go anyway. On route to the panini shop we pass a house which has always had a lawn full of anemones. It doesn't disappoint us this year either as there seems to be more than ever in a splendid variety of colours, some have even escaped into the grass verge outside of the garden.

After collecting our panini, we decide to travel via the main road over the mountains from Sarnano as this road is always kept clear. Along the route the grass verges are covered in anemones – thousands of them.

Lawn of Anemone coronaria

At our first stop we see snowdrops (Galanthus) down the bank, impossible to photograph; and there are several clumps of Alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum) emerging. At home these are already in flower. I can also see, high on the grassy banks, several hellebores which are impossible to get to.

On reaching the turning for the 'zigzag' walk we realize that this is impassable due to a large snowdrift.

Zigzag walk

Never-the-less we stop to admire the beautiful beech trees (Fagus), with their lovely markings, and find a few snowdrops (Galanthus).


Continuing upwards the views are magnificent. We sit on the steps of the little Alpine house at Sassotetto to eat our lunch, enjoying the view.

Mountain views

Alpine house at Sassotetto

All around there are crocuses (Crocus vernus) struggling to stand upright due to the recent heavy snow. On closer inspection we that see there are hundreds of them, some open and some still pushing their way through the knotted grass. How lovely they look, they're so crisp and fresh. Then Pete finds one Green Hellebore (Helleborus bocconei) pushing its way through the matted grass.

Crocus vernus

Helleborus bocconei

Travelling onwards we see many more crocus and then on a sharp bend in the road I shout 'stop, there's something yellow on that bank'. Peter stopped and went to have a look. It's a huge clump of primroses (Primula vulgaris), beauties, then we note there are quite a few around in this area. Continuing on the route we stop again to admire more hellebores, a bank covered in them and much closer than before, which we can now identify as Stinking Hellebores (Helleborus foetidus).

Primula vulgaris

Helleborus foetidus

So although we have not seen many flowers we've had a lovely day out doing what we have done for many years. My husband bought me a wild flower book in 1971 in which he wrote 'To my wife for her enjoyment', and to this day it travels with us on all our flower excursions.

November 2020

It's a beautiful morning and the weather forecast for the mountains is good, so let's go and see what's about. We have in previous years been lucky enough to see plenty of things at this time (see walks Nov 2016 and 2017).

As we get to the top of our drive we are amazed to see that the Sibillini's are covered with snow, not expected!! What should we do? Let's go anyway and see how far we can get. Halfway there we see that we may be lucky enough to be able to go on the zigzag walk.

As usual we collect panini from the little store in Pian di Pieca. Angela, the lady there aks 'Are you going up to the mountains?' 'Yes’ we reply. She shudders at the very thought of it - we just laugh!!

Travelling onwards and upwards we can see that the snow is getting deeper and when we reach Piani di Ragnolo the whole area is a wonderful snowy landscape. 

Piani di Ragnolo

The road here becomes a little tricky, but we have 4 x 4. Then all at once our journey comes to an abrupt end in a drift: the road has not been cleared all the way around. Oh well, we'll get out and have a walk here. Along the way we see there are many wild rose bushes covered with red berries which look lovely against the snowy background. We see several faded Eryngiums and a few thistles poking their heads through the snow.

Rose hips

Carduus chrysacanthus (Appenine cardoon)

We want to get to the zigzag so now have to return all the way around and up through Sarnano, eventually reaching the walk. It's very cold so boots on and wrapped up warm we head off. The beginning of the walk is sheltered from the weather by the beech trees and we can see a few cyclamen tucked under the roots of the trees and rocky areas and also a couple of Daphne. There are plenty of leaves of Hepatica and snow drops with the promise of spring to come.

Beech trees (Fagaceae)

Daphne laureola (spurge laurel)

Leucanthemum adustum

By half way we are tiring so we found a great spot to sit and eat our delicious panini, enjoying the splendid view across to Ascoli Piceno and the distant coast all bathed in warm sunshine. Along the way we've seen many succulents and ferns tucked into the crevices on the sides of the pathway


Asplenium ceterach (Rustyback fern)

Sedum album

View from the Sibillini mountains towards Ascoli Piceno

Heading back down later we are so happy to have made the journey.

Our 'escape' after lockdown, May 2020

It’s May, and after many weeks in lock-down, the restrictions have been lifted sufficiently for us to travel. First we visit the sea, and walk along the beach with crashing waves breaking on the shore.  The air is so fresh, it’s a joy to be alive.

A few days later we return to the mountains, and what a day: lots to see everywhere, including some flowers previously not recorded by us. We travel through Pian di Peica, no sandwiches today, we have a picnic. We turn off the SS78 and make our way upwards, passing Santuario di San Liberato monastery, stopping along the way to observe various plants. At one of these stops we find a single plant which we have not seen before. The flowers are not fully open making it difficult to ID.  'What is it ' Pete says, 'Haven't a clue' is my response. Photos are taken but I am sure a return will be necessary.

Onwards we travel, stopping here and there noting all we see. When we reach Pianatelle we stop again and wander over the area heading towards the ridge where we know Peonies grow and are not disappointed, we find a host of them in full flower. This area is steep limestone rock and covered with many different plants, it’s a spectacular sight.

Phyteuma orbiculare

Paeonia officinalis

Pentaglottis sempervirens

Now its lunch time and we drive to a secluded place we know, beneath beech trees, perfect for a picnic. A little siesta and we continue our journey, now travelling on the SP5 where on previous occasions we have seen many flowers. It’s a little disappointing as the flowering is sparse. The snow has not long gone off this area, so I guess we are too early for most things. We find a few orchids though: Ophrys sphegodes 'Early Spider', Orchis pauciflora 'Sparse flowered' and Platanthera bifolia 'lesser butterfly'.

Ophrys sphegodes

Orchis pauciflora

Platanthera bifolia

Narcissus poeticus

Neotinea ustulata

A week later we return to the same area to take photos of the 'unknown plant'. It is beautiful and definitely a new one for us. It turns out to be Dictamnus albus 'Burning bush' which is considered a rare species in the Marchè Region and in Central Italy. There are two more new flowers which we see close by, two colour variations, which we photographed and have now identified both to be Melittis melissophyllum 'Bastard Balm'.

Dictamnus albus

Melittis melissophyllum – two colour variations

We noted 72 different plants and listed are some of the more unusual spots:

Dictamnus albus Burning bush
Melittis melissophyllum Bastard balm
Dianthus carthusianorum  Carthusian pink
Pentaglottis sempervirens  Large blue alkanet,
Scrophularia   Figwort
Narcissus poeticus  Narcissus
Galeopsis tetrahit  Red hemp nettle
Petasites hybridus Butter bur
Paris quadrifolia Herb Paris
Neotinea ustulata  Burnt orchid
Orchis tridentata  Tooth orchid
Platanthera bifolia  Lesser butterfly orchid
Cephalanthera damasonium Large white Helleborine
Cephalanthera longifolia Sword leaved Helleborine 
Ophrys sphegodes Early spider orchid
Anacamptis morioGreen winged orchid
Orchis pauciflora Sparse flowered orchid
Phyteuma orbiculare Rampion
Lotus corniculatus Dovesfoot trefoil
Dracunculus vulgaris Dragon's teeth
Paeonia officinalis Common peony

Text: Jan Thompson. Photos: Pete and Jan Thompson

April 2020: a walk in the time of Corona Virus

With the strange circumstances we all find ourselves in, due to the corona virus, we are unable to visit the mountains. 

We are lucky to have fields surrounding our property which, as mentioned in May 2019, has not been farmed for over 12 years. We walked around them recently to see what flowers we could find.

The ground slopes downwards towards a small stream where we find Bugle (Ajuga reptans), Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea), Pendulous Sedge (Carex pendula) and Field Buttercup (Ranunculus acris).

Glechoma hederacea

Ajuga reptans

Ornithogalum umbellatum

The hedgerows are abundant with Spina - blackberry - which provided plenty of fruits in the autumn to make lots of jam. We also have Elderflower (Sambucus nigra) and Sloe (Prunus spinosa) in flower, from which I make Elderflower Cordial and Sloe Gin using the berries.

During the years that we have been here many of the wild flowers have established themselves in the garden, where they are very welcome ...

Lathyrus nissolia

Fumaria officinalis

Anemone blanda

Field of Orchis purpurea

A big success for us this year is that we have several well-established Sicilian snapdragon (Antirrhinum siculum) plants. We visited Sicily last year and on the seashore amongst a rocky outcrop we found some plants had become detached from their footings due to the tides, which we bought home along with a few seeds. These are now growing in the same type of limestone rock in our garden.

Cynoglossum creticum

Antirrhinum siculum

Plants noted:
Tassel hyacinth Leopoldia comosa 
Grape hyacinth Muscari neglectum
Star of David Ornithogalum umbellatum
Hollow leaved asphodel Asphodelus fistulosus
Common daisy Bellis perennis
Bugle Ajuga reptans
Hounds tongue Cynoglossum creticum
White campion Silene alba
Common fumitory Fumaria officinalis
Birdseye Veronica persica
Lady orchid Orchis purpurea (we counted over 100)
Three cornered garlic Allium triquetrum
White garlic Allium neapolitanum
Sicilian snapdragon Antirrhinum siculum
White clover Trifolium repens
Elderflower Sambucus nigra
Hoary cress Cardaria draba
Ground ivy Glechoma hederacea
Field buttercup Ranunculus acris
Sloe Prunus spinosa
Grass vetchling Lathyrus nissolia
Creeping woodsorrel Oxalis corniculata
Hop trefoil Trifolium campestre
Chicory Cichorium intybus
Poppy Papaver
Windflower Anemone blanda

Addendum - April 2020

Further to our previous listing we have now found many Lizard orchids, Himantoglossum hircinum growing amongst the Orchis purpurea, a Bee orchid, Ophrys bertolonii and Tooth orchid, Neotinea tridentata, (which unfortunately has had its flower head eaten by snails or sheep).

Many other plants are also now in flower:
Gladioli Gladiolus italicus
Forking larkspur Consolida regalis .
Goats-beard Tragopogon pratensis
Forget-me-not Myosotis sicula.
Field madder Sherardia arvensis
Narrow leaved birdsfoot trefoil Lotus tenuis
Italian sanfoin Hedysarum coronarium
Ox-eye daisy Leucanthemum vulgare

By Janice Thompson
Photographs by Pete Thompson

September 2019

Almost everything in the garden has dried up, we haven't had rain for about six weeks. We have watered precious plants but others have to fend for themselves – hopefully they will pull through.

A trip to the mountains is therefore a relief from the oppressive heat which has lasted for months, on and off. The first things we saw en route were large patches of yellow Linaria vulgare (toadflax), such a splendid splash of colour.

Linaria vulgare

We travelled via Sarnarno, and after collecting our lunch we went to the zig-zag walk, which on our first impressions looks as if it maybe a challenge as it appears to be quite overgrown.

Cyclamen were along the banks, hidden in the undergrowth, managing to push their way through to make themselves seen. On the outer sides of the pathway there are many patches of Prasium rayjus clinging on in the cracks between the stonework, and on the opposing side we see many Eryngium amethystinum and Echinops ritro dotted amongst the dead and drying grasses.


Echinops ritro

Travelling along the pathway we have to tread very carefully because it is littered with Colchicum lusitanum, amazingly managing to push their way up through the very hard rocky ground. There are also many Sempervivum tectorum, obviously suffering from the lack of rain, they are literally just hanging on, a few are managing to flower.

Colchicum lusitanum

Sempervivum tectorum

Further on, the pathway is difficult in places, but we are able to reach the summit where we stop and rest, and take in the wonderful views. From here you can see the hillside outline of what has become known to us as 'The Pharaoh' because of its outline, behind which lies Ascoli Piceno. Scanning from there, the coast line and much of Marche is laid out before us.

On descending I notice a green praying mantis clinging on to the grasses; it looks as if it could be a pregnant female due to its large abdomen. 

Praying mantis

On returning to the car parking area we explore the ground and find other interesting species. Epilobium dodonaei, Scrophularia scopolii, Cyanus triumfetti, Centaurea scabiosa, Dianthus sylvestris.

Dianthus monspessulana

Lycoperdon mushroom

We then drive to a walk on the high grassland meadows which we call 'the green walk'. Here are many Eryngium amethystinum and Dianthus monspessulana together with several species of butterfly. There were also a few fungi about. We manage to identify and get photos of Silver Washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia), Queen of Spain fritillary (Issoria lathonia) and Piedmont ringlet (Erebia meolans), even though they are so difficult to photograph as they move so fast.

Silver washed fritillary

Piedmonte ringlet

Text and photographs by Jan Thompson

June 2019

At last the sun has returned after weeks of persistent rain.  Time to go and see what floral delights are on the mountains. Usual start: collect panini from our favourite shop at Pian di Pieca and we wend our way up the mountain road.

Which next?

Scorzonera purpurea


We are dismayed to see that a beautiful little house which had been refurbished and finished only one year before the earthquake (2016), which last time we passed had been reinforced, was now just a pile of bricks and rubble.

Asphodelus albus, Salvia pratense

Gymnadenia conopsea

Blackstonia perfoliata

More sadness as we continue through what was once a small community of houses, now just the footings are left, all the rest removed. Hopefully they are preparing to rebuild. There are many such sights along our journey, some houses completely demolished, so very sad.

Dianthus carthusianorum

Rhinanthus minor, Anacamptis pyramidalis

Echium vulgare, Echium plantagineum

Knautia arvensis, Cyanus triumfettii alba, Dipsacus pilosus and Anacamptis pyramidalis

Further on we turn towards Acquacanina on the SP5, an area where we have seen many rarities in the past, we are not disappointed and record a really good count for the day, some listed below.  We saw many more orchids on this visit than previously at the same time of year, maybe due to the wet conditions earlier in the year, being favourable. Fragrant orchids being the winner by far, there were thousands of them everywhere.

Pyramidal orchid Anacamptis pyramidalis
Vanilla orchid Nigritella nigra
White helleborine Cephalanthera damasonium
Fragrant orchid Gymnadenia conopsea
Common rockrose Helianthemum nummularium
Purple Vipers grass Scorzonera purpurea (a first for us)
Alpine rockrose Helianthemum apenninum
Alpine gentian Gentiana nivalis
Meadow Clary Salvia pratense
White campion Silene alba
Red clover Trifolium pratense
White clover Trifolium repens
Asphodel Asphodelus albus
Yellow rattle Rhinanthus minor
Yellow wort Blackstonia perfoliata
White corn flower Cyanus triumfettii alba
Meadow sweet Filipendula ulmaria
Lousewort Pedicularis comosa
Tufted vetch Vicia cracca
Vipers bugloss Echium vulgare
Purple vipers bugloss Echium plantagineum,
Wood vetch Vicia sylvatica
Scabious Knautia arvensis
Hop trefoil Trifolium campestre
Black medick Medicago lupulina
Blue flax Linum alpinum
White flax Linum suffruticosum
Carthusian Pink Dianthus carthusianorum
Woodland pink Dianthus sylvestris 
Globe daisy Globularia meridionalis
Geranium Geranium sylvaticum
Kidney vetch Anthyllis vulneraria
Sticky pink flax Linum viscosum
Common milkwort Polygala vulgaris
Shrubby milkwort Polygala chamaebuxus
Small white teasel Dipsacus pilosus

Janice Thompson

Not quite the Sibillinis

Due to the months of unseasonable snow we have not been on our usual walks to the mountains. All the flowers up there must be ruined.

Therefore I decided to take you on a tour of our garden/land which is half way down one side of a valley, 200m above sea level, where, beginning in February we have a Himantoglossum Robertianum, just outside the gate.  

Now in flower we have five different orchids Orchis purpurea, Himantoglossum hircinum, Ophrys scolopax, Ophrys Bertolonii and Neotinea tridentate.

Ophrys scolopax and Ophrys Bertolonii

Neotinea tridentata

Himantoglossum hircinum, Cynoglossum creticum

15 years ago, when we moved here the land was farmed but for the last 12 years it has remained fallow. Over this time the amount of wild flowers has increased tremendously. Currently we have drifts of Leucanthemum vulgare interspersed with Onobrychis. Another area has drifts of Asphodelus fistulosus.

Asphodelus fistulosus

There are also many Sambucus nigra trees, this time of the year the flowers are a real treat, I make elderflower cordial and also fry the flowers to make crispy 'pancakes'. You can find the recipes at the end of this article.

On a walk about yesterday I noted Leopoldia comosa, Muscari neglectum, Ornithogalum umbellatum, Asphodelus fistulosus, Tragopogon porrifolius, Tragopogon pratensis, Bellis perennis, Legousia hybrida, Linaria purpurea, Cichorium intybus, Parentucellia viscosa, Ajuga, Cynoglossum creticum, Echium plantagineum, Brisa maxima, Gladiolus italica, Cynodon dactylon,  Verbascum sinuatum, Trifolium campestre, Pisum sativum, Reseda lutea, Clematis flammula, Silene latifolia, Scabiosa columbaria, Urospermum dalechampii, Leucanthemum vulgare, Onobrychis to mention just a few.

Leopoldia comosa

Linaria purpurea

Tragopogon pratensis and l’infruttescenza

Urospermum dalechampii


Recipe for Elderflower cordial

15 heads of elderflower
500g caster sugar
4 tablespoons quality runny honey
2 unwaxed lemons

Wash the elderflower well, picking off any bugs.  Place the sugar and honey in a large saucepan with 1 litre of water. Gently bring to the boil, until all the sugar has dissolved, then remove from the heat.

Finely grate in the lemon zest and add the elderflower upside down, making sure the flowersare completely submerged.   Squeeze in the juice from one of the lemons, then slice the other and add it to the pan, too. Pop the lid on and leave to one side to infuse for 24 hours.

When you’re ready to strain your cordial, line a fine sieve with muslin over a large bowl (if you don’t have muslin, you can use good quality kitchen towel) and pour through the cordial.  Store in sterilised bottles or jars and drink diluted with water, soda or Prosecco.

Elderflower fritters

In a bowl, mix all ingredients for the batter.  Heat about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of oil in a pan over medium heat.  Holding the flowers by their stems, dip each flower into the batter, then drop them into the pan with the hot oil, flower side down.  Fry until lightly golden.   

The bottom side should be golden brown, the batter facing up should at least be solid. Remove from the oil and place them briefly on a paper towel.
Enjoy dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Usually, the fritters are accompanied by a fruit compote like rhubarb or other seasonal fruit. They also taste gorgeous with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.   

Janice Thompson, 12 May 2019

Boxing Day Walk

26 December and the weather is perfect, wall to wall blue sky, so we decide to go to the mountains.  From home we have noticed that the mountains which last week were covered in snow appear to be clearing so we are optimistic of how far we may get.

The main road from Sarnano up to Sassotetto is cleared all the way so we are able to access the zigzag walk. There is a little space cleared enough to park two cars, then an avalanche.  Kitted out with our 'ten league' boots and warm clothing we traverse the tricky first section to begin our walk. All is well for a while as we crunch our way quite easily through the snow along the trackway, then we hit a couple of difficult areas where the snow has fallen from the slopes above onto the path. Pete fights his way through fallen branches and makes steps in the thick snow for me to follow, not easy I might add.

The zig zag path

These conquered, we continue onwards.  Here and there we recognise Hepatica nobilis and Saxifraga rotundifolia (Round-leaved saxifrage) leaves waiting to send up their flowers, together with other plants, not identified, but with a promise of things to come. Along the path also are Asplenium ceterach (Rustyback spleenwort ferns) protruding from the rocks and scree.

Fern Asplenium ceterach

Several little pieces of Daphne laureola (Spurge Laurel) are seen here and there, then a lovely big specimen almost in flower: what a lovely plant. Along the way we see several daisies, struggling to be seen, as they are emerging from the snow crushed grass pushing their little heads up into the sunlight.

Daphne laureola


We stop to admire the beech trees (Fagus) which look magnificent in this surrounding, when Pete spots a bird, a marsh tit (Poecile palustris), then there are several flying overhead twittering away.


Completing the walk, we get back into the car and head off to find somewhere for our picnic, travelling onwards and upwards until the snowy road becomes the end of an avalanche and curtails our travel. 'We'll picnic here then'. We are alongside a beautiful specimen of an ash tree covered in tight black buds waiting to unfurl and note its wonderful champagne coloured trunks which shine in the winter sunshine.

Ash (Fraxinus)

Champagne tree trunks

What could be better?  OK not many flowers but it is December and the middle of winter; we are lucky to have seen anything at all. Was it worth the journey? But of course it was.

Jan Thompson

Not really a flower walk, August 2018

This wasn't a walk, just a 'Let’s take a picnic to the mountains', but when you see something so unusual I have to share it.

We were driving our usual route to Sassotetto when Pete suddenly stopped the car, having spotted lots of Colchicum autumnale on the hedgerow banks. Out we get to look at them, then we also see Cyclamen hederifolium, and even though we have seen them many times before, it’s always a joy each year when they come back again. 

Colchicum autumnale

Colchicum autumnale

Cyclamen hederifolium

Cyclamen hederifolium

Whilst Pete is taking photos I investigate the bank. I see blue and yellow in the undergrowth. 'What’s this?' I exclaimed, 'Never seen this before'. It appears to be a plant with blue and yellow flowers. We take photos, look in available books: not in.  Unfortunately, we do not have a good camera with us today, only our iPhone, but we capture the images you see here. When we get home, out come more books, trawl the internet for ideas: nothing. 

Mystery Plant

Mystery Plant from a different angle

So I posted the photo on the MGS forum hoping someone will be able to help: nothing. I then posted the photo on Plant Idents, a Facebook page, and hey presto back came the answer: Melampyrum nemorosum. It is a parasitic, herbaceous flowering plant in the broomrape family, Orobanchaceae. What looked like blue flowers are new leaves which are blue, turning green as they mature. How unusual is that?

We also saw Trifolium nigrescens. Solidago virgaurea, Epilobium dodonaei and when we reach Piani di Ragnolo and the surrounding areas, we find the entire area covered with Eryngium.

Solidago virgaurea

Eryngium amethystinum

Mystery Plant Melampyrum nemorosum (Photo Wikispecies)

This has been an exceptional year for us, with many new species discovered.
Jan Thompson

Sharing our walk

We get a call from Jan, another MGS member, who would like to know where we see the wild flowers she reads about. 'Would you like us to show you?' we say, only too keen to go again. 'That would be nice' she says.
So early on 27 July we head towards the area in Aquacanina which we highlighted in our last walk on the Sibillini mountains.

Eryngium amethystinum with rattle seeds

To begin with the area is blue with Eryringum but then disappointment: the farmers have cut the fields leaving only the grass verges. Then there is a sigh of relief when we arrive at our intended area, still pristine and uncut. The orchids seen earlier in the month have all gone but now there is a fresh carpet of flowers.

Jan is in her element, as we wander across the hillside like kids, trying to identify what we see, taking photographs of the ones we 'just can't remember the name of'.

Linum suffruticosum subsp. salsoloides

Carlina acaulis

Dianthus sylvestris

Having explored this area, we move back to the large layby where a couple of weeks ago we saw masses of monkshood in flower. I am keen to see if the foxglove spikes I saw here previously would now be in flower, and yes, excitedly I make my way towards them. Some plants do tend to grow in difficult areas and these were some of them, much clambering is required to get to them. We identify them as Digitalis laevigata and Digitalis lutea subsp Australis, both firsts for all of us.

Digitalis Laevigata

A close up of Digitalis Laevigata

Digitalis lutea subsp. Australis

After this it is lunchtime, so we head towards Pintura where there is a bar where we consume our panini washed down with a small beverage.

'Where to now?'. I suggest the Zig-Zag walk, which we find very overgrown. Slowly we navigate the track explaining to Jan what we've seen here on previous visits, she exulting in the magnificent views.

The edges of the track are fragile in places and in a few areas it has been badly damaged by falling rocks, probably due to earthquakes. Here plants literally cling on, some encased in mossy turfs as with the maidenhair spleenwort ferns, others like sedums and Umbilicus repestris tuck themselves in tightly between the rocky outcrops. On route today we find Sedum acre, Campanula latifolia, Onobrychis viciifolia, Cephalaria leucantha and many ferns, mostly Asplenium trichomanes. It is far too hot to complete the walk today so we return to the carpark area, where we tell Jan of the massive avalanche some five years ago when snow, rocks and trees crashed down the mountainside creating a wide swathe through the forest, taking with them the picnic table.

Plants cling on, encased in mossy turf

View from the Zig Zag path

As we drive away we reflect upon what a good day we have had, and so many plants; a total of 56.

Notably:Digitalis laervigata, Digitalis lutea subsp. Australis, Linum suffruticosum subsp. salsoloides, Saxifraga granulata, Euphrasia picta, Trifolium montanum, Melilotus officinalis, Salvia pratensis, Echium vulgare, Convolvulus arvensis, Globularia meridionalis, Linaria arvensis, linaria vulgaris, Marrubium vulgare, Heracleum sphondylium, Arnica montana, Doronium pardalianchesi, Campanula micrantha, Campanula latifolia, Campanula trachelium, Carlina acaulis, Eryringum amethystinum, Echinops, Scrophularia nodosa, Origarum vulgare and Teucrium chamaedrys.

It’s still June, another walk

It’s my birthday and Pete asks me what we should do. “To the mountains to make the most of this good weather.” “OK” he agrees “but as a surprise, somewhere different.”
So, although it’s a late start, we set off, call in our favourite panini shop at Pian di Peica, then veer off on a different route, towards Fiastra. The first part of the journey is a bit disappointing; not much to see along the way but a few flowers until we see a huge patch of Campanula glomerata. We skirt around lake Fiastra, travelling towards Visso, and begin to see a more flowers, stopping many times to identify plants:

Polygala nicaeensis, Onobrychis viciifolia, Stellaria holostea, Knautia arvensis, Trifolium montanum, Melilotus officinalis, Salvia pratensis, Echium vulgare, Tanacetum parthenium, Dactylorhiza fuchsii, Neotinea ustulata (syn.  Orchis ustulata), Gymnadenia conopsea, Briza minor, Rhinanthus minor, Hypericum perforatum, Blackstonia perfoliata, Thymus vulgaris, Globularia meridionalis, Cruciata glabra (syn. Galium vernum), Cuscuta epithymum, Galium mollugo, Trifolium stellatum, Gymnadenia nigra  (syn. Nigritella nigra).

Meadow complete with husband Pete

Scabiosa columbaria with Marbled White butterfly

Trifolium stellatum

Campanula glomerata and Conopodium majus

Around 12.30 we decide it’s lunchtime and find a secluded shady area to settle down for a 'birthday picnic'. Now’s the time to get the books out and see exactly what plants we have seen and to make a list. After a short siesta we prepare to venture onwards. As Pete is putting the stuff back in the car he calls me to come quickly. On the other side of the road he has found a very small hedgehog, looking very dehydrated.  We pour water over it and it rallies and starts to drink water from the roadway.  After about 15 minutes he seems to be refreshed so Pete picks him up and takes him well away from the road. Before letting him go, he offers him a snail which is eaten with gusto. Our good deed for the day, and hopefully we have saved his life.

One very lucky hedgehog

We travel on a little further as far as Cupi seeing plenty of Levisticum officinale and Carduus nutans and lots of Sedum acre along the edges of the road.

The journey home is soon interrupted by a stupendous area of flowers. We are both in awe of the number of flowers on either side of this minor road, especially orchids. We hastily exit the car and climb the bank exclaiming 'Have you seen this one?'  'How about this one?'  'What's this?' My mind is racing trying to remember all their names. Of special note were a 'white pyramidal' orchid, thousands of white perennial cornflowers and several Bee orchids.

Anacamptis pyramidalis, white version

Centaurea montana, white perennial cornflower

: Ophrys apifera

So what have we identified? Anacamptis pyramidalis in their thousands, a few Neotinea ustulata and  Gymnadenia conopsea. Linum catharticum, Linum suffruticosum and Linum perenne all growing together along the banks. Lonicera canadensis, Conopodium majus, Leucanthemum vulgare, and thousands of white Centaurea montana and quite a lot of Ophrys – yet to be identified.

Later on and further down the roadway we see Gentiana lutea, Clematis vitalba, Ononis spinosa, Lonicera periclymenum, Digitalis lutea and Lilium martagon.

Lilium martagon

Ononis spinosa

We eventually get home late, tired but still in awe of the number of flowers we’ve seen. As we refresh ourselves with a welcome cup of tea, out come all the books – we must record this whilst it’s still fresh in our minds, with a promise to return quite soon. What a birthday present!

June 2018

How wrong can one be – at the end of our account of our walk in April we had written 'It had turned out to be a splendid day out.  A return visit will not be long in its planning.'

What a year for rain. We had been wanting to visit the mountains for some weeks, but the weather forecasts were dismal: rain, rain and yet more rain. Not ideal weather for walking or inspiring for flower spotting, so we were delighted when at last there appeared to be a good forecast.  From the top of our driveway you can see the mountains and, on inspection, it did indeed appear that there were no clouds about.

We set off and en route collected panini for lunch from our favourite shop at Pian di Peica where they make your panino to order, and then travelled up the SP57. We commented on the lack of colour in the hedgerows along the way but as we got higher, stopping here and there, we did see quite a variety of flowers, some known immediately, others to be identified or confirmed later. 

Among them were: Polygala nicaeensis, Orchis anthropophora, Orchis mascula, Onobrychis viciifolia, Centaurea montanus, Dactylorhiza maculata, Saxifraga granulata, Neotinea tridentata, Lilium martagon, Silene italica, Myosotis sylvatica, Stellaria holostea, Lathyrus latifolius, Euphrasia officinalis subsp. kerneri (syn. Euphrasia picta), Rosa sempervirens, Knautia arvensis, Trifolium montanum, Melilotus officinalis, Salvia pratensis, Echium vulgare, Tanacetum parthenium and Dactylorhiza fuchsia.

Heath spotted orchid, Dactylorhiza maculata

Common spotted orchid, Dactylorhiza fuchsii

On reaching the area known as we saw quite a few colourful Orobanche gracilis which are parasitic on legumes, together with Anacamptis pyramidalis, Neotinea ustulata (syn.  Orchis ustulata), Gymnadenia conopsea, Filipendula ulmaria, Cruciata glabra (syn. Galium vernum), Campanula rapunculus, Campanula glomerata, Rhinanthus minor, Armeria canescens, Thymus vulgaris, Vicia cracca and Dianthus carthusianorum.

Slender Broomrape, Orobanche gracilis

Pyramidal orchid, Anacamptis pyramidalis

Burnt orchid, Neotinea ustulata

Meadowsweet, Filipendula ulmaria

I had been looking forward to seeing the various areas where we know peonies grow, which are usually in full flower in mid-June, but we were disappointed and amazed to note that they had already flowered and set seed.  We met a local man foraging for fungi who said that it had been a wet spring so that everything had had an early and short life.
Today was really hot so when lunch time arrived we needed to find a shady place, and we knew of an area of beech trees with plenty of shade. Splendid panini as usual. Lunch over – time for a little siesta I thought, for it’s exhausting work seeking out wild flowers.

I awoke to the buzzing of insects and went to investigate the area beneath the trees where we had seen Daphne laureola in the spring, doing very well here and spreading. This time I found two new plants, Sanicula europaea (Sanicle), which is here in abundance and 'oh what have we here?'… Orchids? Well, not exactly, but of the orchid family - Cephalanthera damasonium (white helleborine)**, not many flowering but there were plenty of seedlings around for the future. I noted that the flowers don't appear to open as in other orchids but have a yellow rim just visible at the base of the flower.

** Edward Step who published a book in 1943 “Wild Flowers in their Natural Haunts”, recalled finding white helleborines in the shadow of beech trees with which it is associated and said “The White Helleborine is a wasp flower, and has no hollow spur for the secretion of honey, for the wasp has no long tongue like the butterflies and some of the bees”.

The field next to our picnic spot was covered in a wonderful mass of Gymnadenia conopsea, (fragrant orchids) among the other wild flowers.

White helleborine, Cephalanthera damasonium

Fragrant orchid, Gymnadenia conopsea

Continuing along the road which runs around the mountain we saw Verbascum thapsus (great mullein) flowering, resplendent against the mountain backdrop, and, on the opposite side of the road, banks of scree with plants clinging on trying to make a home there.

Great mullein, Verbascum thapsus

'banks of scree with plants clinging on...'

April 2018

It is the 2 April, Easter Monday. Weeks of prolonged rain followed by snow and several severe frosts which killed leaves on olive trees, oleanders and even several covered plants, had delayed our first flower walk. With blue skies and 18 degrees predicted we set out, but even then our anticipation was low as the Sibillini mountains were still cloaked in snow.

Our pessimism evaporated as we approached the foothills where the verges were carpeted with anemones (Anemone apennina) in their thousands.

Anemone apennina

Another surprise was that our favourite walk was clear.  We call it the zig-zag walk due to the constant changes in direction it takes. Last year it was totally blocked because of an avalanche which had left a deposit of rocks and trees, making it impassable.  This year we were greeted by Tussilago farfara, Crocus vernus, Hepatica nobilis, Galanthus nivalis, Primula vulgaris and Scilla verna beneath the beech trees.

Galanthus nivalis

Hepatica nobilis

Tussilago farfara

Scilla verna

Further on, huge rocks and some of the tree trunks were still there but now passable. Crocus vernus and patches of Juncus trifidus had forced their way up through the rocky path and hellebores, both Helleborus foetidus and Helleborus viridis subsp. bocconei grew amongst the trees.

Crocus vernus

As the path climbs the beech trees give way to spruce and pines, with views to the Adriatic 70 km away.  Here we saw Daphne laureola in flower.  As we climbed higher the flowers were only promised by familiar leaves pushing up through the dead grass. We passed the remains of Bird’s Nest Orchids which seems to always favour this one spot and climbed on further to the top where hundreds of ladybirds were sunning themselves after their long hibernation and the views were magnificent. We returned to the car marvelling at all these varieties again.

Helleborus viridis subsp. bocconei

Helleborus foetidus

Daphne laureola

Coccinelle assonnate

We then drove up past Sassotetto and skirted the snow-covered hills where carpets of crocus grew wherever there was bare ground. It had turned out to be a splendid outing. A return visit will not be long in its planning.

A walk in November 2017

We took a trip to Foce, which is a tiny village at the start of the walk to Lago di Pilato, within the Sibillini national park, to see what flowers were about. We gave up searching for wild flowers, there were very few to be found, instead we enjoyed the fantastic colours that Autumn brings, and share them here with you ...

A walk in October 2017

What a difference a little rain makes!

We took some visiting friends to see the open areas of grassland at Piana di Ragnolo, hoping to share with them , hoping to share with them the abundance of flowers which we usually see, even at this time of the year.  We found it difficult to find any wild flowers at all just dried grass, due to the lack of rain this year and the very high temperatures. A few rose-hips along Piani di Ragnolo is all we saw.

Rose hips

Carlina vulgaris

We travelled on as far as Pintura above the village of Bolognola and found many seed heads of Carlina vulgaris.

Epilobium dodonaei

Eryngium amethystinum

Linaria vulgaris

Eventually a few scanty specimens were found - Epilobium dodonaei, Eryngium amethystinum, Linaria vulgaris, Mentha arvensis, Agrimonia eupatoria and a few Cyclamen hederifolium.

Mentha arvensis

Un'altra Mentha arvensis

Agrimonia eupatoria

Cyclamen hederifolium

August 2017

This was not exactly a walk as I recently had surgery to my knee. My husband and I decided to take a picnic into the mountains, to a different area to where we usually go: Montecavalli which is just outside Visso.


Two views of Epilobium dodonaei

There were few flowers about due to the hot weather and lack of rain this summer. Amongst the few survivors which were mainly in the shady areas, we saw Scabious, Epilobium dodonaei, Lotus corniculatus, plenty of Eryngium amethystinum.

Lotus corniculatus

Two views of Eryngium amethystinum

But the hero of the day was Daucus carota.

Daucus carota - The wild carrot is a somewhat variable biennial plant that grows between 30 and 60 cm tall and is roughly hairy, with a stiff, solid stem. The leaves are tripinnate, finely divided and lacy, and overall triangular in shape. The leaves are bristly and alternate in a pinnate pattern that separates into thin segments. The flowers are small and dull white, clustered in flat, dense umbels with one red flower at its centre designed to attract insects. As the seeds develop, the umbel curls up at the edges, becomes more congested, and develops a concave surface. The fruits are oval and flattened, with short styles and hooked spines. The fruit is small, dry and bumpy with protective hairs surrounding it. The endosperm of the fruit grows before the embryo. Wild carrot blooms in summer and autumn. It thrives best in sun to partial shade, and is commonly found along roadsides and in unused fields, as shown in the photos below.

Daucus carota:in flower, mass blooming in the meadows and in seed

In England it has many several common names, such as bird's nest, bishop's lace, and Queen Anne's lace.

July 2017 walk.

Having first bought our lunch at our favourite shop along the way we headed out to Sassotetto in the Sibillini's. On the way up to the top we stopped at our favourite walk, the zig zag, which we have explored many times over the past 13 years, it is a great place for wild flowers. Boots on, note book in pocket, cameras at the ready, secateurs handy, as we often need to clear the pathway, and off we go.  It was obvious that there had been an avalanche recently, and after only about 20 metres we were shocked to see a huge bolder blocking part of the way; never mind we get around it and venture forth. Not more than 15 meters further on and 'Oh my goodness, what happened to the path' it was completely obliterated by a pile of felled trees and more rocks. This is just not what we had expected. Part of the path had been excavated by other huge boulders as they descended.  It was quite obvious we could not continue, as the path was the only level walking area. The avalanche was almost certainly caused by some recent earthquakes.

The boulder

I don't believe it!

Even so we were able to record specimens of note: Digitalis lutea, Cephalaria squamiflora, Epiloblium dodanaei, Campanula rotundifolia and Phagnalon rupestre. We then drove to Sassotetto, passing several Lilium bulbiferum along the way, and there was a splendid array of flowers.

Eryrigium amerthystinum, Sherardia arvensis, Achillea millefolium, Campanula trachelium, Allium aflatunense, Knautia arvensis, Campanula glomerata, Dianthus cathusianorum, Dianthus sylvestris, Anthemis cretica.

Eryngium amethystinum

Cephalaria squamiflora

Campanula rotundifolia

Continuing around the mountain we reached an area known as Pintura di Bolgnola, it was now lunch time and after a drink at a local bar, we found a picnic spot and consumed the splendid sandwiches in total isolation.  Moving on around the mountain we stopped frequently to identify even more flowers, namely Sedum rupestre, Eryrigium creticum, Sedum reflexum, Gentiana lutea, Galium verum, Pulmonaria apennina, Verbascum longifolium, Achillea collina, Campanula latifolia, Trifolium angustifolium, Aconitum vulparia, Malva moschata, and Dianthus monspessulanus. 

Lilium bulbiferum

Eryngium creticum

Dianthus monspessulanus

This meadow resounded to the sound of Rhinathus seeds shaking in their pouches. Also from here, you could see the sea 45 km away due to the clarity of the air. There was just one more stop, a return to the lily pond, where there were Clematis vitalba, Helichrysum italicum and Scrophularia scorodonia. Having had such a splendid day, we had almost forgotten the disappointment of the zig zag walk. Finally we stopped where we know there are Himantoglossum hircinum adriaticum: most years they had been cut down when they mow the roadside hedges, more recently they have not been mowed so there were many Himantoglossum seedheads, Lathyrus latifolius and Lonicera etrusca.

Sherardia arvensis

Campanula trachelium

15 May 2017 Mountain walk

A change of area for our May walk. Some years ago we discovered a clearing on the side of a lane just west of Amandola which was covered in many orchids and various other flowers. Here we had our only siting so far of Limodorum abortivum (Violet Bird’s Nest Orchid), I was hoping that we may be lucky enough to see it again.

This elusive orchid is a tall plant but is, nonetheless, difficult to find because it blends in so well with its surroundings. Limodorum abortivum can disappear for several years during periods of drought and then it reappears when the weather is wetter. This makes it harder to find rather than its rarity. It is usually found in coniferous woodland, scrub, and grassy woodland clearings. It is saprophytic and is dependent throughout its life on mycorrhizal fungi, but because the stem is green and contains chlorophyll, it is unlikely to be parasitic as some people have suggested.  It is sometimes pollinated by insects, but Limodorum abortivum is also cleistogamous (pollination takes place inside the flower bud).

When we arrived we saw many Orchis simia (Monkey Orchid) covering the edge of the area.  On closer inspection we found an Ophrys fuciflora (Late Spider Orchid), Neottia nidus-avis (Bird’s Nest Orchid), together with various other flower species. We then wandered down the lane discovering many other flowers.

Orchis simia and Hedysarum coronarium

Ophrys fuciflora

Neottia nidus-avis

On our return to the car, we stopped dead in our tracks, not more than 5 metres away from the car we saw two Limadorum abortivum side by side which were over 80cms tall. Many photographs were taken.

Limodorum abortivum 80 cms+

Limodorum abortivum fiore

We then drove a little further down this lane and stopped to see some pink flowers on the side, on closer inspection found them to be Anthyllis vulneraria ssp rubriflora (Pink Kidney Vetch) and there amongst them 6 more Limadore orchids just about to flower. Alongside them was an Orchis anthropophora (Man Orchid) and a (Three-toothed Orchid). A very good afternoon.

A group of Limodorum abortivum

Orchis anthropophora

Limodorum abortivum

These are some of the species we saw including 11 orchids:
Limodorum abortivum, Orchis simia, Ophrys fuciflora, Neottia nidus-avis, Orchis anthropophoraNeotinea tridentata, Orchis mascula, Orchis purpurea, Anacamptis pyramidalis, Himantoglossum adriaticum, Cephalanthera longifolia, Trifolium campestre, Galium verum, Cruciata laevipes, Thymus serpyllum, Salvia pratensis, Asparagus officinalis, Leucanthemum vulgare, Smilax aspera, Lonicera implexa, Vicia villosa, Lotus corniculatus, Lotus pedunculatus, Polygala nicaeensis, Scutellaria galericulata, Trifolium angustifolium, Anthyllis vulneraria ssp rubriflora, Aristolochia rotunda and Hedysarum coronarium.  

Neotinea tridentata

Aristolochia rotunda

April 2017

We went for our first flower walk of the year on the Sibillini mountains today. Surprisingly there was still a lot of snow lying in the sheltered areas and the road from Piani di Ragnolo around to Sassotetto was blocked halfway with 3 metres of snow.  Nevertheless, we were able to see some old favourites and a few new ones in this area. We picnicked in weak sunshine but our visit was curtailed by a thunder storm with heavy rain.


Ruscus aculeatus

The highlights were Ruscus aculeatus, Drimia maritima (with one rare white one), Daphne laureola and a large patch of Eranthis hyemalis, which were not open due to the wet weather.

Scilla bifolia

Scilla bifolia var. alba

Today we identified:
Polygala vulgaris: Primula vulgaris: Primula veris; Hepatica nobilis; Viola lutea; Viola tricolor; Helleborus foetidus; Helleborus bocconei; Corydalis cava; Galanthus nivalis; Scilla bifolia; Scilla bifolia var. alba; Scilla verna; Pulmonaria apennina; Ruscus aculeatus; Anemone hortensis; Anemone apennina; Asphodelus albus; Muscari neglectum (syn. M. atlanticum); Daphne laureola; Hippocrepisemerus (syn. Coronilla emerus); Crocus vernus; Prunus domestica; Prunus spinosa; Anemone ranunculoides and Eranthis hyemalis.

Hepatica nobilis

Viola lutea

Ruscus aculeatus was given its common name, Butcher's broom, because its stiff twigs were bound together and used by butchers in Europe to keep their cutting boards clean. It is a low-growing common evergreen shrub. It is widely distributed from Iran to the Mediterranean and the southern United States. It has flat shoots known as cladodes that give the appearance of stiff, spine-tipped leaves. Small greenish flowers appear in spring, and are borne singly in the centre of the cladodes. The female flowers are followed by a red berry, and the seeds are bird-distributed, but the plant also spreads vegetatively by means of rhizomes. Ruscus aculeatus occurs in woodlands and hedgerows, where it is tolerant of deep shade, and also on coastal cliffs. It is also widely planted in gardens, and has spread as a garden escapee in many areas outside its native range. The plant develops edible shoots that are similar to asparagus in form. Butcher's broom has tough, erect, striated stems with false thorny leaves. 

Ruscus aculeatus

The plant has a long history of medicinal use. Extracts, decoctions, and poultices have been used throughout the ages, but the medicinal use of this plant did not become common until the last century. The increasing popularity of natural and herbal remedies in Europe in the 1970s has reaffirmed its position in modern medicine.
Common English names: Butcher's broom is also known as box holly, knee holly, pettigree, sweet broom, and Jew's myrtle. If there are Italian common names for this plant we would like to hear of them.

Wild flower walk on 1 November 2016

Following a similar route as our September walk, we travelled from Sarnano up to Sassotetto (signposted from Sarnano carpark) and then on to the open areas of grassland at Piani di Ragnolo.  Even at this time if the year there were a few gems to be found including the same poppy which we had seen back in September, it was still flowering.  It was a very windy day so difficult to photograph our specimens.  Our son was with us and took the photos on his mobile phone.  We also noticed some daphne growing in a thicket which we must come back to see in the spring.

Centaurea scabiousa

Gentiana ciliata

Gentiana verna

Scabiosa columbaria

Calina acaulis

Papaver rhoeas

Wild flower walk – Thursday 29 September 2016

Despite the late start to our walk, we had a fruitful day plant hunting. We ventured from Sarnano up to Sassotetto (signposted from Sarnano carpark) and then on to the open areas of grassland at Piani di Ragnolo.

Piani di Ragnolo

Our first thought was that there would not be much to see as the grass had all been cut. But no; as we looked towards the edges of the cut areas, the parts where the tractors cannot reach, we found quite few species, including this little campanula.

Campanula scheuchzeri

In all we managed to see and identify 21 species of wild flowers:
Epilobium dodonaei, Eryngium amethystinum, Galium vernum, Campanula scheuchzeri, Carduus chrysacanthus, Carlina acaulis, Trifolium campestre, Bellis perennis, Hypericum richeri, Asperula cynanchica, Scabiosa columbaria,Trifolium pratense, Cephalaria leucantha, Trifolium montanum, Linaria vulgaris, Centaurea scabiousa, Gentianopsis ciliata (a first for us) and surprisingly, Papaver rhodeas.

Gentianopsis ciliata

Papaver rhodeas

We also saw Pyracanthua coccinea covered in berries, Sambuca ebulus in berry, and plenty of lovely shiny rosehips.

Pyracantha coccineacovered in berries

Sambucus ebulus

Plenty of lovely shiny rosehips

On the way down from Piani di Ragnolo, there is a little lay-by where we know of a pond with water lilies. We stopped and were rewarded with a beautiful sight of double yellow lilies basking in the sunlight.


A very enjoyable day out and sitll plenty to see.

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