Botany Photo of the Day
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Merendera montana

Merendera montana
Merendera montana
Serra do Alvao

...and another thank you to Paulo Araújo of Portugal for sharing a few of his photographs. Paulo submitted these images via this thread in the Botany Photo of the Day Submissions Forum. Much appreciated!

Paulo writes:

"The sight in early autumn of these stalkless flowers sprouting directly from the parched earth amidst dried-up grasses is quite wonderful. In spite of appearances, these plants do have leaves - but they will only show up much later, in spring. There are a number of synonyms for Merendera montana (among them Merendera pyrenaica and Colchicum bulbocodioides) and I don't know which one is currently accepted ( Daniel -- RHS Plant Finder seems to agree with the posted name). Whatever its name, it only occurs in mountain pastures and other high open places in the Iberian Peninsula. These photos were taken at the end of September in Serra do Alvão, in the northern half of Portugal."

"I am including a third photograph to give you an idea of the kind of environment these flowers were found in. The granite outcrop is quite typical of the region; heather, gorse and bracken are to be seen on the foreground; the pine tree is a small Pinus sylvestris (which, although not native, has been planted extensively since the 19th century in our northern mountains and is now naturalized)."

Wikimedia has a few more images of Merendera montana. To read about the "protocooperative" relationship between Merendera montana and Microtus duodecimcostatus, a mole-vole, see: Gómez-García D., et al. 2004. How does Merendera montana (L.) Lange (Liliaceae) benefit from being consumed by mole-voles?. Vegetatio. 172(2):173-181. doi: 10.1023/B:VEGE.0000026325.93477.45 .


What a lovely surprise it must be to the prrson who spots these flowers the first time. I can just imagin wondering how in the world that flower fell from the bush without falling face down. Then I would wonder where is the bush, and look around. Then I would most likely pick it up to check it out, and be stymied by finding it firmly (I hope) attached to the earth. I had quite a trip on this flower, and I ain't smoking anything funny. Thanks. It sure is pretty, isn't it?

They are such delightful flowers! I saw some in the Simien Mountain range in northern Ethiopia this year... scattered all over one of our campsites at 3620m elevation. I'm not sure the name of the flowers in Ethiopia, but from my pictures they are quite similar.

What a beautiful flower. The landscape shot really enhances the description.
Does the flower come first or the leaves? I would think that the leaves need to grow before it can produce a flower.

I love it that these bloom in the Fall - a hopeful sign that Spring will come again :)

Fascinating. Thank you Paulo.

are we not pretty to day

thank you for the landscape
does one go by car or by foot

Oh my goodness! That first closeup pic would knock your socks off. This site is the best thing on the web. It never ceases to amze me and make my day. Thanks Daniel and and all your contributors.


Thank you very much for publishing my photos. I am very proud of being an occasional contributor to this site.


What comes first, the flowers or the leaves? That's a sort of chicken-or-egg question. After a period of dormancy, the flowers do come up well before the leaves, as I have said. However, in absolute terms, it is possible that the leaves appear first when the plant first germinates - I really don't know.


We did get there by foot, but the road where we parked the car was only one or two miles away. Serra do Alvão is not a big place (about 18000 acres) and most of it is within easy walking distance from some road or other.

Lovely, surprising flowers, sprouting right from the gravelly ground. I'd love to see these in the flesh. This page took me on a very enjoyable journey to Portugal.

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