The Mediterranean is home to a wide array of flowers that grow in the wild. They flourish in the dry summer subtropical climate, where temperatures are generally no higher than 80 degrees F and no lower than 32 degrees F. Many Mediterranean flowers have found their way all over the world, but they continue to characterize the landscapes of countries like Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and Greece.
The crown daisy (Chrysanthemum coronarium) is also known as the garland chrysanthemum. This cheerful, white and yellow member of the daisy family (Asteraceae) dots the entire Mediterranean region, usually flowering between March and September. Its precise classification is as an annual, Mediterranean herb, and it contains yellow florets. The crown daisy is aromatic. It is especially popular in Chinese (Cantonese) and Japanese cooking.
The annual larkspur is found throughout most of the Mediterranean region, including Portugal’s famous Algarve. It is more formally called Consolida ambigua and is one of several species of larkspur that grows in the Mediterranean. The annual larkspur is a member of the Buttercup family (Ranunculaceae). It is a close relation of the delphinium. Its blue, lavender, pink and white blooms grow in tight clusters on stems that can reach up to 5 feet high. It should be noted that the annual larkspur is poisonous and definitely not edible.
The turban butterfly (Ranunculus asiaticus) can be called a social butterfly because it often grows in large groups of one color, whether white, yellow, pink, purple or scarlet. The flowers are showy, usually blooming from March to May. Visitors to the eastern Mediterranean will find these lovely flowers proliferating on roadsides and slopes. This Mediterranean beauty is also known as the Persian Buttercup. It is native to Iran as well as to Greece and Turkey. The turban butterfly is a perennial, growing to between 12 and 18 inches tall.
Portugal, southern Spain, Corsica and Sardinia are among the places that the sea rose calls home. The Armeria pungens is also known as the love plant or by a much less melodic name, spiny thrift. The latter comes from the fact that it is a member of the Thrift family (Plumbaginaceae). The sea rose usually blooms between April and July. There are more than 100 species of the Armeria genus, most of them native to the Mediterranean.
The late Princess Grace of Monaco was a respected authority on flowers, and she particularly enjoyed creating pressed flower art. Living in the Mediterranean, the Princess authored a fully illustrated work called “My Book of Flowers,” first published in 1980 by Sidgwick and Jackson Limited. Among the Princess’ favorite Mediterranean wildflowers was Fritillary involucrata, which she called fritillarias. Their bright green and reddish-purple colors in a checkered pattern sets them apart and inspired the nickname “harlequin” flowers. They grow to between 6 and 12 inches tall.