Wildflowers of North Cyprus.
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photo by: Alena Parkhomenka
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North Cyprus Wild Flowers

Wild Flowers
photo by: Kenan Erden
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When most of northern Europe is still gloomy, wet and cold, in North Cyprus the warm sunshine of the spring brings forth the most glorious display of wild flowers. All the countryside seems to burst into bloom, from the cool northern slopes of the Kyrenia Mountains, to the rocky Karpas peninsula, and the farmers’ fields in between.

Field Wildflowers

The fields in North Cyprus are painted in vivid colours by wild flowers during the spring, dotted with cyclamens and narcissi. Waves of anemones move in the breeze, opening in the full sun and closing again as dusk falls. Hidden amongst the fields of grain, you’ll spot the black tulip, so expensive in gardens centres but growing wild here in the spring sunshine. On sunny rocky areas, the Cyprus sun rose begins to ramble, yellow flowers emerging from unassuming purple buds in the sunshine. Grape hyacinths emerge in electric blue, familiar to many a European gardener. Summer is heralded by the glorious scent of citrus trees, as the trees are laden with fragrant blossom. Soon, the pomegranate tress flower bright red, and the olive trees show their delicate white flowers, rich in the smell of the Mediterranean.

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North Cyprus Mountain Wildflowers

After it spring display of native species such as Cypriot rock cress, Cypriot sage, plus the omnipresent turban buttercups, the North Cyprus mountains have a trick up their sleeve.  Come the autumn, the Cyprus cyclamen pushes its pale pink or white petals up from even the most shady corner, and autumn crocuses bloom on the northern slopes of the mountains, dotting them with vivid patches of purple and white. The North Cyprus mountains are also home to the St Hilarion cabbage, an unassuming plant until you realise it is the ancestor of our own cultivated cauliflower, supposedly first bred at Degirmenlik in the seventeenth century.

North Cyprus Orchids

The North Cyprus spring is blessed with a impressive display of wild orchids. There are over 30 species of wild Cyprus orchid, which inhabit a variety of spaces from shady tree roots to rocky crags. You may be lucky enough to see the rare fan lipped orchid, or more often the appropriately named giant orchid which can grow up to a height of half a metre. Common lowland species include the monkey orchid, holy orchid and bug orchid. The smallest are the bee orchids, which imitate the look and even the smell of female wasps. Male wasps visit the flower thinking it is a female, and when they fly off having realised their mistake, they take the flower’s pollen with them. Two species, the Cyprus bee orchid and the Lapithos bee orchid are only found in Cyprus. The best place to see bee orchids is at Alevkaya forest station in North Cyprus, where there is also a fascinating Herbarium, where you can identify any mystery plants you’ve spotted. The one plant you should not miss is the Golden Drop, a species unique to the island, whose golden bells emerge from hairy green pods.

North Cyprus Butterflies

As soon as the spring flowers bloom in North Cyprus, the butterflies emerge. The Cyprus festoon butterfly is unique to the island, with its odd shaped wings, and the brightly-coloured Cleopatra butterflies dance in shafts of sunlight in the dappled mountain woodlands. Many other species feast on the wild flowers, and rise like clouds of multicoloured petal as you walk.

Wildflower Walks in North Cyprus

Several companies offer specialist walking holidays in North Cyprus during the cooler winter and spring months (the summer is too hot and too parched). Walks and Wild Orchids offer conducted tours, and also publish a guidebook of 30 walks taking in the best of the wild flowers – and some local sites as well. The National Trust of the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus also produce maps for walkers, and Yucel Asan, owner of the Follow Me restaurant in Edremit, offers expert guided walks, based on 23 years experience of working in the Forestry Department. There are also more informal Turkish Cypriot walking groups who meet regularly and are always happy for new, experienced walkers (with the right kit) to join them.