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THE FLORA

 

NEWS ABOUT THE FLORA OF OUR DUNES.

Fotografías e identificación hechas por la Asociación ProDunas.

7 September 2021 – Pimpinella villosa has appeared in the natural monument “Dunas de Artola”.

When we were out on the Dunas de Artola on 7th September, we concentrated our attention on a fairly common plant there but which is not seen in other areas of the Marbella Dunes-Ecological Reserve.

We refer to the Pimpinella villosa, a species of the umbelliferae family that really is not typically found in dune vegetation. It is much more common over the rest of the Iberian Peninsula and in North Africa. As it usually goes unnoticed, it isn’t often given a local name, but here, among the ones we have heard are “furry pimpernel” and “pelitre”, the latter is most inappropriate because it is the name of a totally different plant from which a natural insecticide called pelitre or pyrethrum can be obtained.

Our pimpinella is a perennial plant that sprouts every year from its thick, woody, rough root. In spring it produces a pretty rosette of basal leaves very like those of the coriander plant. Then, in the middle of August the leaves dry up, giving up all their biological strength to the development of the flowers and the formation of seeds. The flowers are small, whitish and gathered in branched umbels. Finally, the seeds are formed. They are also small and hairy, hence its scientific name. Finally, everything disappears until the following spring.

Our protagonist belongs to the same genus as the well-known Matalahúga or anise (Pimpinella anisum), a species cultivated from time immemorial and which has numerous medicinal properties and widespread use in cooking and baking.

So: it is an almost unknown plant, and it doesn’t seem to have any known uses, but there it is, adding to the biodiversity of this ecosystem, and with the late development of its flowers it maintains the life of insects all through the worst of the heat, at a time when most species have long since finished flowering.

 

Author: Manuel Zafra Valverde

September 2021 – Carnation – Dianthus broteri or Dianthus malacitanus

What do we know about the Clavelina?

This species, which looks like a carnation, can only be found in the Natural Monument “Dunas de Artola”. It gives this dune an extra attraction and a unique character. We encourage you to go out to the Monument to see this plant during their flowering season, which is spring and early summer.

It is easy to identify it as stands out from the rest of the dune species. It is tall and has pink or white flowers. It is herbaceous with stems that can reach up to half a meter in height. These are erect and ascending, with few or simple branches. Its small leaves are found in the basal part of the plant. The flowers usually grow on their own, that is, they do not form groups around a stem, and they have very characteristic petals, ending in lacinias or fimbriae that give them a filamentous appearance, as if the edge of the petal had been grated. Its calyx is also characteristic being quite long, up to 30mm.

Later, in summer, the flower withers and only the calyx and stems remain, now a brownish-black colour. This contains the numerous black seeds.

These are very small and light but they are very important if we want to ensure that the species continues to exist in our dunes going forward. That is why ProDunas Marbella is trying to preserve the species. We want to introduce it in the rest of the dune environments and with it, guarantee its survival in these coastal ecosystems.

To deepen everyone’s knowledge of the floral richness in the dunes, we are organising workshops to identify the Andalusian vascular or land plants. With these workshops we aim to create more and more nature lovers, people who enjoy being in these spaces as they learn more about our iconic and extremely important species.

June 2021

THE RARE CACHRYS SICULA PLANT SHOWS UP IN LA ADELFA DUNE, Bahia de Marbella

Some moments in our lives have magnificent and unexpected surprises in store for us. This time it was the appearance of the beautiful, rare plant known as Cachrys sicula, (Common name according to the Junta de Andalucía: cañaé or cañaheja).

A few years ago we discovered it in the Natural Monument “Dunas de Artola” in Cabopino but we did not see it in any other dune – until today!

This plant, typical of dune ecosystems, gives them a bright yellow colour that fills the areas it occupies with joy. Recently it has appeared as a carpet, an explosion of enjoyment. It is a perennial plant that lives mainly in the southwestern Mediterranean area and grows among sub-nitrophilous shrubs and grasslands in sandy environments (dunes).

It looks like it should belong to the fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) and carrot (Daucus carota) family as they belong together, but when you get closer, the intense aroma of fennel is missing. Cachrys sicula is odorless, which is hard to understand. Its flowers are hermaphrodite, actinomorphic and pentameric.

It normally blooms between April and May, but this year it was still in full bloom at the beginning of June. We enjoyed this pleasant surprise and warmly welcomed Cachrys sicula.

March 2021

MUTUALISM AND SYMBIOSIS IN FALSE MIMOSA (Acacia)

We want to bring to your attention something really interesting we learned in the El Barronal de la Morena dune in Playas Andaluzas, El Rosario, when we were manually grubbing out regrowth of the false Mimosa (Acacia).

We know that these snippets of information about unusual names and processes are fascinating to the “man in the street”. They enrich our knowledge of the complexity of the components that go to make up and guarantee the creation and survival of nature.

Words to remember:
Mutualism
Symbiosis
Rhizobium
Bacteriorrizas

Brief explanation:
An example of mutualism occurs between nitrogen-fixing bacteria of the genus Rhizobium and the roots of leguminous plants. Bacteriorcins are formed by this symbiosis. In this association, the bacteria fix the nitrogen found in the air and which the plant needs for its proper development, while the plant provides shelter for the bacteria.

All legumes have small bubbles on the roots. Inside these are nitrifying bacteria that combine the biological oxidation of ammonium with oxygen to produce nitrite. Then follows the oxidation of these nitrites to nitrates (of the Rhizobium genus). This is known as symbiosis (Bacteriorrizas). This is  where both organisms gain from the process. The bacteria are nitrogen fixers, the nitrogen feeds the plant and the plant in its turn shelters the bacterium. These nitrifying microorganisms use carbon dioxide as their carbon source to grow. For this reason, in overexploited soils it would be a very good idea to plant any one of the appropriate legume family to enrich the soil.

All legumes have small bubbles on the roots. Inside these are nitrifying bacteria that combine the biological oxidation of ammonium with oxygen to produce nitrite. Then follows the oxidation of these nitrites to nitrates (of the Rhizobium genus). This is known as symbiosis (Bacteriorrizas). This is  where both organisms gain from the process. The bacteria are nitrogen fixers, the nitrogen feeds the plant and the plant in its turn shelters the bacterium. These nitrifying microorganisms use carbon dioxide as their carbon source to grow. For this reason, in overexploited soils it would be a very good idea to plant any one of the appropriate legume family to enrich the soil.

August 2020

BROOMRAPES (Orobanche rapum-genistae)

Today we are going to talk about the Wolf Asparagus, one of the Broomrape family. It is a very odd looking plant and has an odd way of life, as it is parasitic. This means that it gets all its nutrients from another organism (host), without providing any benefit in return. In the case of this species, the hosts are the members of the legume (bean)

It is probably a perennial species, with straight stems that can reach up to 70 cm, with brown or yellowish flowers that grow in dense multi-flower bunches. The species of the Broomrape genus are difficult to organize taxonomically and as they are parasitic, this work is complicated by their lack of distinguishable characters. In the different dune ecosystems the Ramosa Broomrape can also be found, sometimes smaller and with blue flowers, and can parasitize a wide spectrum of plant species.

Flowering usually occurs between April and July, but it seems that this year, because people haven’t been out in the dunes, with therefore less anthropological pressure on nature, the plants have run riot and overflowing has got under way.

May 2020

Do you know the CENTAUREA SPHAEROCEPHALA, (Common knapweed) which has introduced itself in several dune areas of the Ecological Reserve?

It is a very unique dune plant!
It is easily confused by schoolchildren with the African daisy (Arctotheca calendula) schoolchildren, although the differences between the two plants can be easily shown to them. The undersides of their leaves are very different. Both the upper and lower sides of the Centaurea sphaerocephala are of a vivid green, while the invasive African daisy has a silver underside, a colour produced by the multitude of whitish hairs that cover it.

In recent years, Centaurea sphaerocephala has begun to settle in different dune ecosystems. It is a perennial plant. It is somewhat prickly due to the presence of sharp hairs on its leaves and stem. This characteristic allows it to defend itself very well against predators, allowing it to attain a good size.

With its presence it contributes to an increasing floral diversity in the dunes. We are delighted with it.

April 2020
WHAT ARE FOREIGN INVASIVE SPECIES AND WHY ARE THEY INVASIVE?

Foreign invasive species are those species not native to an area and which have been artificially – accidentally or intentionally – introduced into an ecosystem other than their own. These species can adapt to the environment to which they are introduced and colonise it. Their invasive behaviour endangers indigenous biological diversity since indigenous species may not possess the necessary mechanisms to compete with them and because of this suffer displacement or even extinction.

Invasive species, having no competitors, can develop numerous reproductive individuals that bear seed with great success, which contributes to their expansion. In addition, many of the invasive species have vegetative forms of reproduction such as rhizomes or stolons that increase their colonisation capacity.

The following are some of the foreign invasive species that can be found in the Marbella dunes: Pampas Grass (Cortaderia sealana), Purple Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum), Century Plant (Agave americana), False Mimosa (Acacia saligna / Acacia salicina), Giant Reed (Arundo donax) and Yuca (Yucca aloifolia) and of course Highway Ice plant (Carpobrotus edulis) and the Cape dandelion (Arctotheca calendula). These are listed in the Spanish Foreign Invasive Species Catalogue, published on 2nd August 2013 by Royal Decree n° 630/2013.

The coastal habitats with dunes are the ones that present the greatest number of invasive naturalised species (those that have managed to adapt to the environment they colonise) of tropical or subtropical origin. The strong human pressure because of the urban development over the last 30-40 years has contributed to the introduction, in many cases from gardens, of foreign invasive species, thus helping to cause the unfortunate degradation of the dune vegetation.

MARCH 2020
THE ETERNAL QUESTION – LOTUS CRETICUS vs MEDICAGO MARINA

Is it the Bird’s-foot Trefoil (Lotus creticus) or the Sea Medick (Medicago marina)?

Both species are very similar, not surprisingly as they belong to the same family of plants: legumes (leguminosae). This family is distinguished especially by having:

  • Legume type berries
    • Compound and stipulated leaves
    • Butterfly-like flowers (from French word for butterfly (papillon)

Right here the main differences between them can be found.

The Bird’s-foot Trefoil (Lotus creticus L.) can grow flat along the ground or upright since it has a strong woody base. Its stems are branched. The leaves are in parts, with 5 leaflets that have a whitish tomentum (hairs on the surface). The upright parts of the flowers are almost twice as big as the base. The flowers are yellow, with slightly darker veins and a purple part at the tip of the base. Its berries are long (between 20 and 50 mm) and straight.

The Sea Medick (Medicago marina L.) is generally decumbent (that is, lying flat on the ground). The stems are simple, not branched. The leaves still come in parts, with between 4 and 9 leaflets, but the hairs are bigger and can be found on both sides of the leaf. The flowers are smooth and yellow with an upright part noticeably larger than the base and wings. Its berries, despite being legumes, are curled into small spirals with conical spines, leaving a central opening.

Lotus creticus (Bird’s-foot Trefoil) is much more common in the dunes of Marbella. Finding a Medicago marina (Sea Medick) is very difficult. It is normally found in grasslands and in thickets on the dunes and in coastal sand. They are important plants in embryonic (mobile) dunes because they help hold on to the sand and thus let the dune develop. They are very well adapted to the environmental conditions of the dune ecosystems, thanks to structures such as the whitish tomentum (hairs) that defend the plant by reflecting part of the solar radiation.

AUGUST 2018 – THE SEA DAFFODIL (Pancratium maritimum)

The summer smile of this beautiful flower accompanies us during the 3 summer months, from July to September.

It’s fresh beauty is an inspiration to us all but all it wants is to be left where we find it, in its habitat. It wilts quickly if you pick it and put in a flower vase, even with water.

It develops very slowly from seed. It can take up to 3 years to flower, but when the petals open it is like an explosion of white all over the dunes.

All you can think of is peace and happiness when you come across it . . .

MAY 2018

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The GREAT or COMMON MULLEIN (Verbascum thapsus)

This plant has established itself in the dunes even though it comes from Europe. It likes both the sandy soil and the Costa del Sol climate, and there are more and more plants every year. In these spring-and early summer months it is eye-catching because it is so beautiful and stands so tall – up to 2 mt. Its leaves are delicately furry to the touch and its fresh yellow flowers are grouped stem-up.

Interestingly, very few people know of its therapeutic properties – although in the countries farther to the north of Spain the plant and especially its petals are used for medicinal purposes. The dried flowers are used to make infusions that in cold weather are said to protect against colds, flu and chesty coughs.

The medicinal virtues of this plant were known in the ancient world. It is an interesting plant for botanists.

JUNE 2016

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SEA ORLAYA or DUNE CARROT (Pseudorlaya pumila)

This small umbelliferous or apiaceous plant (it carries its flowers in an umbrella-shaped cluster) is being closely studied by 2 eminent botanists of the Universities of Alicante (Spain) and Michigan (USA) along our Dunes ecosystems (13km), from the Natural Monument “Dunes of Artola” to the Marbella Dunes Ecological Reserve.

It can be found in sand soils and dune areas.

The whole plant is covered with stiff little hairs. The flowers can be either red or white and the seeds are covered with prickles. It blooms in spring and early summer.

This interesting plant belongs to the apiaceous/umbelliferous family and is a member of carrot sub-group.

APRIL 2016

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PROLIFERATION OF THE AFRICAN DAISY (Arctotheca calendula) IN THE NATURAL MONUMENT “DUNAS DE ARTOLA”, CABOPINO

The construction of the pedestrian boardwalks in this dune area has resulted in damage to the sandy soil and has favoured the explosive propagation of the plant listed by the Ministry of Environment as invasive. There is a risk of altering this until now intact area.

In principle the plants are spread by seeds, which can cause a large quantity of regrowth from rhizomes or tubers. Dispersion is mainly anemochorous (by the wind) and also zoochorus (by animals). The seeds have a latency period so they can germinate with autumn rains. As the African Daisy is aggressive and can crowd out the native species such as:
Sea Daffodil (Pancratium maritimum), Sea Holly (Eryngium maritimum), Birds’ Foot Trefoil (Lotus creticus), Maritime Stock (Malcolmia littorea) etc. Prompt action is advisable to prevent its uncontroled development.

The Ministry for the Environment has entrusted Pro Dunas to organise Eradication Days to contain its possible spread throughout the entire Natural Monument area.

Pro Dunes calls for Citizen participation, so that working together we can eliminate this harmful species. To set Eradication Days that suit you, please call us on: 609 600 706 or contact us by email:
asociacion@produnas.org

MARCH 2015

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CAMPAIGN TO CONTROL AND ERADICATE THE INVASIVE EXOTICSPECIESPURPLE FOUNTAIN GRASS (Pennisetum setaceum)

The Ministry of the Environment is counting on our urgent help to maintain strict control over the mistaken introduction of thisinvasive perennial plant to the environment. It is very harmful because of its rapid proliferation.

For many years our Association has been controlling the spread of this species in thedune areas in the Municipality of Marbella. We can certify that it grows in only onearea as a result of private introduction into the “La Adelfa” dune in Bahia de Marbella.

Pennisetum setaceum is an ornamentalplant and because of its beauty is often planted in private gardens. Unfortunately itis easily spread by the wind. It is all over the roadside of the N-340 motorway andthere is a lot of it in Marbella’s public parks.

OCTOBER 2012

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 MASTIC SHRUB (Pistacia lentiscus)

2006: Reforestation of several Mastic plants in the dunes area of “La Adelfa” in Bahía de Marbella.

2012-Autumn: For the first time, young shrubs are bearing their fruits, with a bright red glow.

FEBRUARY 2012

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SEA DAFFODIL (Pancratium maritimum)

It can be found in all the sand dune areas of the municipality of Marbella. Flowering is from August to October. The leaves are green before flowering, and wither with the flower. The sea daffodil dies when cut off, so it does not survive in a vase.

The seed is abundant. Its colour is black, and it is very much like charcoal, both to the touch as in appearance. Propagation by seeds is easy in windy weather, which favours its development in coastal sands.

JUNE 2011

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MIRTO (Myrtus communis)

Young plants were introduced into the sand dunes “La Adelfa” Bahía de Marbella, Marbella in the year 2005 and flourished for the first time in June of 2011. They thrive in sand dunes and the undergrowth of pine and oak woods.

It is considered a “Symbol of Love and Beauty”, and its leaves, flowers and fruit are used in perfumery for their wonderful fragrance.

MAY 2010

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Actions for the conservation of the dunes area “La Adelfa” – Bahía de Marbella

Due to unauthorized prune by third persons, technicians of the Provincial Department for the Environment have carried out conservations actions and  cleaning work in this beautiful specimen of Wild Olive tree. This olive shrub represents a high value for the natural heritage of the residents and Marbella

FEBRUARY 2010

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RIDAL VEIL BROOM – (White Retama monosperma)

This shrub blossoms for the first time!

Since it was planted in the dunes of Bahia de Marbella in the year 2006.

Its white butterfly shaped flowers give off a delicate fragrance and represent a delicious lure for the small wild birds

MAY 2009

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A NEW INDIGENOUS PLANT IS BORN . . . Cachrys sicula IN THE DUNES OF BAHÍA DE MARBELLA

This plant is indigenous of the andalusian coast and should be protected and preserved by everyone.

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Asociación ProDunas Marbella

The Association works tirelessly for the defence and preservation of the unique ecosystems that survive in the natural sand dune environments in the Province of Málaga; promotes the protection of native flora and small wildlife; promotes recovery, rehabilitation and conservation of interesting biodiversity of sand dunes areas in the municipality of Marbella.