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Pancratium maritimum

If there were a contest for which is the most Mediterranean of plants my entry would be this “Sand Lily”, or “Sea Daffodil”. As far as I can discover it grows on sandy shores in all areas of the Basin. It can survive for days in salt water when erosion causes it to be carried off. It is sadly becoming endangered - one of the victims of beach tourism and construction, pollution and galloping erosion due to rising temperatures and sea level… not to mention enthusiasts who carry them off to plant in their gardens and promptly kill them by planting in rich soil.
The Pancratium features in lists of documented prehistoric plants of the Mediterranean and appears in wall paintings in Knossos. It has medicinal uses described by Dioscorides and Theophrastos.

Last summer I found 3 bulbs washed up after a storm on a sandy beach of Western Corfu. I planted them in a pot of 1/3 soil 2/3 sand. Now they are blooming and spreading their heady perfume. I’m going to try propagating them in sand.

Cali Doxiadis


      Photograph by Dominique Vaché

 

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