The Flora of Sicily
Driving around Sicily it's impossible not to notice the abundance of beautiful flora, especially in the spring, although each season has its own natural charms. The plants can be roadside denizens of the macchia, that typical brush landscape found in the Mediterranean or more blousy incomers from Latin American or South Africa. Flora once only found in the manicured surroundings of aristocratic palazzi have made a bolt for freedom and now colonize any spare piece of scrub land. These photos are just a few examples we have encountered on our travels.
A Hibiscus flowering in the grounds of the Villa Palagonia, Bagheria.
The outrageous Balloon Flower, sometimes known as a Swan Plant whose Latin name is Asclepias physocarpa.
A Lantana camera, sometimes known as a Spanish Flag, although from the colours it could just as easily be called a Sicilian Flag.
A white Oleander - varieties of Oleander line the autostrada from Palermo to Messina and are found in just about every town park or public space on the island.
Found in gardens, cultivated for commercial purposes or growing wild, the fig is ubiquitous.
Named after a French admiral who explored Latin America, the Bougainvillea often has purple bracts with a smaller white flower which can be seen in the picture above.
The Prickly Pear, or fico d'India (Indian Fig) to the Italians, grows in clusters, even in the most inhospitable of places. The fruit will turn a reddish colour and can be really refreshing when shorn of its spikes. The locals also brew a spirit from the pulp.
The Cape Honeysuckle, climbs and clings to walls and stonework. A riot of colour in the summer.
The Stephanotis or Madagascan Jasmine. Very scented. Originally from Africa, it loves climbing over balcony railings. (Thanks to Claire for the ID).
The Sweet Pea, famously native to Sicily. It lives up to its name and lends a sweet scent to woodland margins and track sides.