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Phlomis cretica - Cretan Jerusalem Sage

Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Equisetopsida - Order: Lamiales - Family: Lamiaceae

Phlomis cretica

This lovely perennial evergreen wildflower is one of three yellow sage-like plants that are native to Crete and some nearby countries.

Identification

Plants (shrubs) of Phlomis cretica grow to around 50cm in height. Its leaves are quite distinctive: lanceolate to narrowly oblong, from 3 to 8cm long and velvety (tomentose), the tiny white surface hairs being more markedly dense on the undersides. The yellow flowers, which are up to 2.7cm long, are borne up the stems in well-spaced whorls of typically 15 to 25 individual flowers. Although the leaves and flowers are rather sage-like in appearance, this species does not smell at all like sage.

Distribution

The natural range of Phlomis cretica covers parts of Crete, Greece and Turkey, but this attractive flower has been introduced to gardens throughout much of the temperate world including the UK and Ireland.

Habitat

Cretan Jerusalem Sage grows in the habitat referred to in Greece as 'phrygana', a dry and stony limestone-based habitat referred to as garrigue in some parts of the Mediterranean. It is a member of the Lamiaceae (mint) family of plants.

Cretan Jerusalem sage, Phlomis cretica

Flowering times

On the isle of Crete, Phlomis cretica is usually in flower from March until June.

Similar species

Of the three species of phlomis that occur in Crete, Jerusalem Sage (Phlomis fruticosa) is the rarest, and although similar in appearance to Phlomis cretica, Phlomis fruticosa is a much larger shrub. Phlomis lanata, the other phlomis found in Crete, has much more rounded leaves than Phlomis cretica which can also be found in southern Greece. (Phlomis lanata is endemic to Crete.)

This wildflower grows in the habitat referred to in Greece as 'phrygana', a dry and stony habitat referred to as garrigue in other parts of the Mediterranean. It is a member of the Lamiaceae (mint) family of plants.

The plants shown on this page were photographed in Crete at the beginning of April.


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