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The Land of the Flowering Penguins

They are smelly and poisonous, and trick insects into doing their dirty work; but arums and aristolochias are among the most striking wild flowers in Turkey. The botanist Andrew Byfield tracks them down on the glaring limestone peninsulas of Marmaris and in the scruffier habitats of the high Taurus Mountains

  • Long thought to occur only on Crete, Arum creticum was recently discovered on the Datça peninsula

It was in April 1938, at the age of 19 and before commencing his lifetime’s study of Turkish flora, that the late Peter Davis discovered a mysterious bulbous plant out of flower while botanising on Crete. The living tuber that he presented to London’s Kew Gardens bloomed the following October, revealing it to be an autumn-flowering ‘aroid’ new to science. It was duly named Biarum davisii, the first of many newly discovered plants named in honour of the Edinburgh botanist.

Davis’ Biarum was thought to be confined to Crete until the late 1970s, when Istanbul’s Professor Turhan Baytop discovered it in a number of localities near Marmaris in Turkey’s most southwesterly corner. Around the same time, other species previously thought to be restricted to Crete and adjacent Greek islands were discovered in the same area, evidence of the former existence of land bridges linking Crete to the Turkey before the sea levels rose. The discovery in Turkey of the beautiful Arum creticum (by Professor Asuman Baytop in March 1981), the pink Tulipa saxatilis, the chrome-yellow tree flax Linum arboreum and the Cretan date palm Phoenix theoprastii represented a remarkable extension to the greographical range of these Aegean specialities…

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Issue 6, 1994 Palaces of Diplomacy II
£12.00 / $15.24 / €14.02
Other Highlights from Cornucopia 6
  • Fruits of victory

    Cherry jam is slightly runny. Rather than adding pectin, it is better to accept that this ruby-coloured jam drips from the toast when you eat it.
    More cookery features

  • Palaces of Diplomacy, Part 2

    When the summer heat made cool-headed diplomacy impossible, the ambassadors to the Sublime Porte retired to remarkable residences lining the Bosphorus. Patricia Daunt probes their rich diplomatic history, while Fritz von der Schulenburg captures the faded glory of the buildings and their grounds

  • Sheets of Marble

    The ancient art of ebru, or paper marbling, creates sinuous, swirling patterns of subtle colour which owe their appearance to processes as mysterious as the technique’s very beginnings. Ebru apprentice Ali Suat Urguplu shares his master Fuad Basar’s secrets. Photographs by Simon Upton

Buy the issue
Issue 6, 1994 Palaces of Diplomacy II
£12.00 / $15.24 / 490.98 TL
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