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Sea Daffodil

sea-daffodil

sea-daffodil

I went for a walk with my dog on the beach near the old Mare Monte Hotel in Alsancak. There are new stairs leading down to the beach which means that access is no longer through the derelict, glass strewn, hotel. I was surprised to find the beach filled with sea daffodils, an endangered species native to the Mediterranean region and south-western Europe.  It grows on coastal sands or just above the high tide mark and its other names are Sand Daffodil, Sand Lily and the Lily of St. Nicholas.

The flowers have a very subtle lily scent which is usually only perceptible during hot summer nights when the wind is still. They flower from August to October so the flowers will soon disappear. One of the flowers was being pollinated by a hawk-moth named Agrius convolvuli.

If you do visit, remember this is a rare plant which has probably only survived because the hotel has been deserted for a long time.

Pancratium maritimum

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Pancratium maritimum
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Plantae
(unranked):Angiosperms
(unranked):Monocots
Order:Asparagales
Family:Amaryllidaceae
Genus:Pancratium
Species:P. maritimum
Binomial name
Pancratium maritimum
L.
Synonyms
P. angustifolium M. Roem. 1847 Syn. Ensat. 178.

Pancratium maritimum, or sea daffodil, is a species of Amaryllidaceae native to the Mediterranean region and south-western Europe. That plant can also be seen on the south Bulgarian and north Turkish coasts of Black Sea where is threatened with extinction. It grows on coastal sands or just above the high tide mark. Other vernacular names are Sand Daffodil, Sand Lily and the Lily of St. Nicholas. The Latin maritimum means “of the seashore”.

P. maritimum is a bulbous perennial with a long neck and glaucous, broadly linear leaves, evergreen, but the leaves often die back during hot summers. Scape to 40 cm. Flowers 3-15 in an umbel, to 15 cm long, white. Corona two-thirds as long as the tepals. The flowers have a pleasing, exotic and very subtle lily scent, which only becomes apparent during still, windless summer nights that allow its delicate fragrance to become perceptible. Flowering is from August to October.

The plant is pollinated by a hawk-moth named Agrius convolvuli. These insects visits the flower when the speed of the wind is under 2 m/s. When It’s higher than that the moths does not visit the Pancratium. Even if the species is pollinated in artificial way during windy weather the pollination is not effective. Another specific of the sand lily is that It is not receptive to its own pollen and the plant can recognize it. This flower can be only cross pollinated.

Easily grown but requires a very sunny position and a very well drained, sandy soil. Needs hot summers to induce flowering and is often a shy bloomer in cooler climates. Hardy to USDA zone 8. Tolerates temperatures down to about -5°C. Propagation by seeds or division after flowering. Seedlings may flower in their third or fourth year.

The Hebrew name for the flower is חבצלת החוף, closely related to the rose of Sharon (חבצלת השרון) mentioned in the Song of Solomon. It is commonly assumed by most people in Israel that, the Sharon plain being on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, the Biblical passage refers to this flower.

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