Three Flowers on Montjuic

Written by Lucy Brzoska

It’s been a long time without rain, and the park squad on Montjuic are zealous cutters of encroaching vegetation.  Nevertheless, some flowers have survived, their strong colours drawing attention from a distance.  Deep pink shows up at the edge of the pine wood: Common Centaury (Centaurium erythraea), a member of the Gentian family.  The small, five-petalled flowers, with flamboyant yellow anthers, overlap and cluster together.

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The plant is named in honour of Chiron, an unusually cultured Centaur, who stood out from the rest of his rowdy, hard-drinking horse-hoofed kind. Chiron was renowned for his knowledge of medicine, and discovered the wound-healing properties traditionally attributed to Centaury.

Nearby are some round flower heads: Echinops ritro, the Small Globe Thistle.  Close up, each ball is composed of tiny rotating lavender-blue petals. The genus name comes from the Greek ekhinos, which means hedgehog or sea urchin.

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The Spanish name, Cardo yesquero, refers to the thistle’s use as yesca, dry material that’s easily set alight with a spark.

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These fiery flowers were growing at the base of Montjuic, not far from the ring road, in a scrap of dry earth by the pavement. It’s Coreopsis lanceolata, one of many alien species that have escaped from Montjuic’s parks.  The Latin name refers to the shape of the seed, based on the Greek koris (bug) and opsis (appearance), and in its native USA the flower goes by the name of Tickseed.