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Skulduggery among the cedars

The story of one of Turkey’s rarest bulbs could be taken from the pages of a thriller. Andrew Byfield exposes the bulb smugglers’ dastardly deeds.

  • The freesia-scented Sternbergia candida.

First the good news. As recently as 1976, the late Oleg Polunin ( the prolific author of so many of the best Europen flower gudes) collected bulbs of a sternbergia – a daffodil relative – from a mountain in southwest Turkey.

When they flowered, a year or so later, at the Royal Botanic gardens, Kew, to everyone’s surprise they were discovered to be a completely new species. In a genus of wholly yellow-flowered species – all but one flowering in the autumn, as the first rains moisten the summer-droughted soils of the Mediterranean – here was a plant with pure white flowers, produced in late winter or early spring.

A formal description of the plant was drafted by Turkey’s Turhan Baytop and England’s Brian Mathew, and in 1979 Sterngergia candid was formally introduced to the world, in the pages of the Royal Horticultural Society’s journal The Garden.

Now for the bad news…..

To read the full article, purchase Issue 16

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Issue 16, 1998 Beguiling Büyükada
£50.00 / $64.69 / €59.41
Other Highlights from Cornucopia 16
  • Postcards from Paradise

    In a 36-page tribute, Cornucopia offers five contrasting views of the largest of the Princes Islands, Büyükada. Distant enough for monastic retreat and political exile, close enough for the summer migration of Istanbul’s bourgeoisie, this beguiling island has a tranquil past but a perilous future. Articles by Andrew Finkel, John Carswell and Elizabeth Meath Baker and Angela Berzeg

  • A Feast of Figs

    As the fig grows ever sweeter, a honey-drop appears at the eye, and the seeds develop, adding a nutty flavour and a crunch to the glutinous texture.
    More cookery features

  • Fresh as a Fresco

    Behind the gently fading façade of the Meziki Konağı, one of the few stone palazzos on Buyükada, is a frescoed interior in mint condition

  • The Dragoboys of Ortaköy

    In the late 19th century, in the face of an increasingly corrupt consular service in the Near East, ambitious plans were laid in Istanbul to train an elite corps of young British diplomats

  • Keepers of the Light

    The lighthouse at Cape Chelidonia, the southernmost point of the Bay of Antalya, stands sentinel over what is now one of the Mediterranean’s most peaceful stretches of coastline. Three generations of one family have kept the light shining here since it was first lit in 1938. Now, the in the face of satellite technology, darkness is threatening to return. Kate Clow reports.

  • Ambassador Extraordinary

    Zeki Kuneralp was raised far from home on a farm in the Swiss Alps. He returned to become one of the century’s most venerated diplomats. David Barchard pays tribute.

    Even in later years, in spite of immense personal tragedy, he remained a fount of wisdom and good advice to a host of diplomats, ministers and journalists.

Buy the issue
Issue 16, 1998 Beguiling Büyükada
£50.00 / $64.69 / 2,133.20 TL
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