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Posts Tagged ‘Europe’

I traveled to Italy in September and snapped a few photos of this beautiful flower. 

Caper (Capparis spinosa), Rome, Italy in September

Caper (Capparis spinosa), Rome, Italy in September

Its 4 petals are overshadowed by the many purple stamens and one stigma high above the rest. This was growing on the wall of the Villa Medici at the top of the Spanish steps. I had no idea what it was, just that it was beautiful.

Caper (Capparis spinosa), Rome, Italy in September

Caper (Capparis spinosa), Rome, Italy in September

I found out it was a caper plant when I got home and looked it up. I love capers! I put them into a dish with chicken and lemon sauce served over rice. I never really thought about what capers were, I just knew that I liked them. It turns out they are the buds of this plant!  They are in their own family, the caper family, but they are closely related to the mustard or crucifer family. I would love to grow some capers in a garden of my own one day but I guess I would have to live somewhere warmer, they do well in arid climates. But I wouldn’t need much dirt, these plants can grow rock ledges and walls without much of a foothold. 

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At the end of October, I traveled to Barcelona.  The temperature was in the sixties and I was pleased to see many flowers blooming.  I had traveled from Boston, where the fall was starting and the golden rod, the last flowers left, were pretty much gone.

What was fun about the Spanish flora was the cacti!  Being from the Northeastern part of the U.S., we don’t have naturally growing cacti so it’s a special thrill to see cacti growing in the wild.  As I was walking a path near Park Guell, I took a snapshot of this huge prickly pear.  In Spanish, it is called Nopal Estricto.  Nopales is the vegetable made from the prickly pear.

This kind of cactus is the most cold-tolerant cactus.  New fact: all true cacti species are native to the Americas.  Therefore, this one found in Spain is a transplant… I wonder when they first came over? The prickly pear is on the list of the world’s 100 worst invasive species.

I hope to some day get a photo of the prickly pear in bloom or with some fruit.  This one looks like it must be pretty old, it is very big and it holds the scars from people carving into its stems. In cacti, the stem has evolved to be photosynthetic and succulent and the leaves have evolved into spines through adaptation to dry and/or hot climates.

Prickly Pear, Barcelona, Spain

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