The long-awaited snow has come to the Crimea. The steppe part of the peninsula is covered with snow, and the snow layer is even thicker in the mountains. However, even in January in many hollows protected from northern winds the sun warms the rocks and soil, caressing with warmth the roots and stems of mountain plants. And the latter start budding and blossoming, thanking in such a way the sky for the warmth.
The Day asked the well-known Crimean biologist, head of the College of Phytodesign and Botany at the South Department “Crimean Agrotechnological University” of the National University of Biological Resources and Nature Exploitation of Ukraine, Doctor of Biology Andrii YENA to tell about this amazing phenomenon. You will find his commentary below.
“In this period in some corners of mountainous Crimea, which are warmed up by the sun, buds of Galanthus plicatus start to develop. Although this plant is no longer considered an endemic species of the Crimea (it is widespread in all countries of the Black Sea region), it is still on the red list of threatened species, a very vulnerable one. It’s in good company with Cyclamen Kuznetzovii which grows in the Kubalach Mountain Massif. As soon as the sun begins to shine, its rose-and-violet flowers start to appear in the snow. Of course, both species flower on a mass scale in March, but owing to the varying exposition of mountain slopes, hence varying amounts of warmth they receive, you can always see some sole flowering snowdrops and cyclamens in the period between the end of winter and beginning of spring.”
“The cyclamen species is well-known owing to popular indoors plants which flower in winter. Their specific looks immediately stick in mind: a round tuber resembling a turnip, a rosette of dark-green leaves with silver frosty ornament and standing out single flowers, turned upside down and resembling butterflies with folded wings,” the website “All plants of the Crimea” writes. “According to their life cycle, cyclamens are ephemeroids, which means that they emerge on the surface for a short while, flowering for three or four months, and for the rest of the year they rest in the soil, while other representatives of flora grow and blossom.”
Cyclamen kuznetsovii (or Cyclamen coum) has a rose corolla with a violet, more rarely white, spot on the base. Its period of growth is in the cold time of the year, late autumn through early spring. It flowers in January and February. The only population of Cyclamen kuznetsovii is protected by the Kubalach Botanic Preserve. Previously cyclamen growing in the Crimea was considered an endemic species. The plant has been included in all nature protection documents, the international and European red lists, the Washington Convention (1973), International Berne Convention (1979), red Book of Ukraine, and Red Book of the Crimea, under the title of Cyclamen kusnetzovii. Incidentally, the refined shape of cyclamen flowers has become symbol of art nouveau under the motto “back to nature.”
After the total plowing very small area of virgin land has been preserved in the Crimean plains, but on some strips of land Colchicum Ancyrense may appear as soon as the beginning of January. Unfortunately, the remains of these plants are mercilessly dug out by local population for sale: real snowdrops grow only in the mountains. But in Pervomaisk raion of the Crimea Colchicum Ancyrense is called namely this way: “Pervomaisk snowdrops.”
And plants that are considered weeds are flowering, too, in the Crimean foothills, in towns, and on the roadsides. As many of them come from the Mediterranean countries, they possess a biological peculiarity to flower several times a year, after every thaw. For example, Ballota nigra from the family of Labiatae is an ordinary species growing near the fences. As a rule, townsfolk, who are in a hurry about their business, hardly ever notice it, forgetting that under their feet gratifying us southern nature never stops gladdening our eyes with blossom, which may seem modest and inconspicuous. Nature seems to call humans to attentiveness and warmth of heart: passer-by, please stop and look at this miracle of flowering under your feet in winter cold, and warm up your heart and soul!
The Day is sincerely grateful to the owners of the website “All plants of the Crimea” for the unique photos they kindly provided