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A HUNDRED AND TWENTY DIFFERENT ORCHIDS IN ONE SQUARE METER OF CRETAN SOIL!

 

ORCHIDS OF CRETE 

 Anna Ohmer, a German botanist, has chosen Crete for her holidays in 1992, but she lives now for 14 years in this place where the scents of wild herbs fill the mountain air, exploring the local flora and especially orchids, on which she has written a book named “Orchids of Crete”.
Even if she initially worked as a schoolteacher in her homeland, her love for the natural environment led her to study Botanology. In the university she first learned of the rich and original flora of Crete ground and of the varieties of Cretan orchids. The “seed” of search had sprouted…

Her love of life and desire of new experiences, in combination with her need for a high standard of life, led her to make a new beginning in the plain of Mesara. With her companion, Karl, they live in Galia, in a beautiful private house they have bought. All visitors immediately perceive the fact that they have found a meaning in their lives, as this house is something between a sculpture workshop, a library and an exhibition of plants, gathered by Anna, as well as pictures of rare plants and flowers, while the air vibrates with the strong smells of Cretan herbs.

After years of studies, she decided she had enough photographic material to publish a splendid book, the bilingual “Orchids - Orchideen”. She reports in her preface:
Crete has a lot of surprises and wonders in store for its visitors. One of the most beautiful, which only at closer inspection discloses itself to the hiker, are the orchids. Not even the size of a fingernail and the well adapted to their environment they appear to be hidden from view. But once you have discovered these small but beautiful flowers they reveal all their variety and magnificence. European orchids by no means stand in the shadow of the tropical ones. Like its tropical relatives, the Mediterranean orchid is possessed of great beauty, delicacy and subtleties in color. It is the subject for photographers and invites repeated attention again and again. To the botanist it offers a large and interesting number of species. This illustrated book shows the wide variety of Cretan orchids.
The photos were taken in winter and in spring between November and May. The orchids were discovered during long hikes south from Ida Mountains, in the Messara valley including the pre-hill area. Geographically the area is defined by the villages Vori, Matala, Galia and Agia Galini. In their natural habitat about 120 orchids per m2 can be found.
On the island of Crete the species are so common that we cannot classify them as rare objects. The present edition depicts the modest beauty of this species combined with a short introduction describing the biology, pollination and propagation of orchids
”.

As Anna says there are about 10-12 families of orchids in Crete, which one can find on the mountain slopes in summertime. However she reports that in Crete exist about 1400 families of various flowers and 10% of them can be found exclusively in the island. Between them are also some families of orchids. Anna Ohmer continues the search of rare flowers and herbs in the mountains of Crete, preparing her next book.
 

Soula Vilanaki - Pietrak

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Read the full article in STIGMES issue no 88

Images and text on this page can be reproduced with written authorization of the publisher and as long as the source is referred to as "(published in STIGMES, the magazine of Crete)" and linked to http://www.stigmes.gr with credits to the writer and/or photographer

 

    

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