Trip to Greece

Juerg Steiger (
Sat, 21 Oct 1995 23:20:52 +0000

Short report about 'Greece trip 2'

End of Juli Jan Schlauer and I made a trip to Greece ('Greece trip 1') in
order to find Pinguicula balcanica and the four different ploidy
populations of Ping. hirtiflora (2n=16, 24, 32 and 48). We found P.
balcanica both in the Smolikas Mountains (NW Greece) and in the Vardoussia
Mountains (Central Greece, the southernmost site of this species up to
now). As for P. hirtiflora we found different populations in the northern
Pindos Mt. and the Smolikas, the Olympus Mt. (gorge of Lithochoron), the
Vardoussia Mt. and on the Pelloponnes (Chelmos Mt.). But as we didn't find
any Ping. site in the Ghiona Mountains - the only known site where it has
2n=32 - I decided to revisit Greece and to reinvestigate the Ghiona and
also some other sites where the species was described. For this second trip
Ivo Koudela from Prague joined me. As several friends asked for a short
report here some comments about this second trip ('Greece trip 2', Sept.29
- Oct.6):

1. Mt. Parnassos: J. Contandriopoulos doesn't mention the Parnass in her
paper about the caryology of greek P. hirtiflora. But in his Ping.
monography S.J. Casper indicates 'Dipotamo, Mt. Parnass' for P. hirtiflora
(4 records!). P. Quezel describes a wet place at the entrance of the gorge
on the southern part of the Parnass at 'Gourna', but does not list P.
hirtiflora. - We followed the road from Arachova to the southern ski
center (in July we were at the northern one), but also several long forest
roads and we visited the large Korikion Andron cave: No Pings at all (some
natives said there is moistness around the cave but it was dry) .
'Dipotamo' seems to be unknown, 'gourna' means watering place for cattle
and according to the natives there are many 'gournas' (but today all are
pipelined). Due to lack of time and the early dusk we couldn't visit a
'valley' (is it a gorge?) going from the plateau above Arachova in eastern
direction (south of one of the higher summits). This should be
reinvestigated. In winter the owner of a fast food shop in Amphissa is
employed be the greek government as co-manager in the southern Parnass ski
center. He will ask natives about unpipelined springs.

2. Mt. Ghiona: Starting north of Amphissa at Vargiani/Viniani we trekked
for a 2,5 hours ascent through the Rekka gorge in western direction
towards 'Platylithos' (indicated for P. hirtiflora by Honsell). It is a
very dry valley and we enjoyed the innumerous Cyclamen flowers and the big
tortoises. Yes, in the upper part of the limestone gorge we indeed found a
typical habitat of P. hirtiflora (associated with Aquilegia amaliae), at
1300m. P. hirtiflora is petrophilous and usually grows on
vertical/overhanging limestone or serpentine rocks. Some few plants were
still in flower, but in the majority the summer leaves were decaying and
the smaller winter rosette was going to develop. There is certainly frost
at this cool place in winter ( P. hirtiflora belongs to the heterophyllous
growth type forming no winter buds but a small winter rosette, which is
frost resistant even at -10 C for a few days as I could experience with my
plants from Italy and Turkey). Probably there are one or two similar
habitats higher up. A shepperd said there is a cave 3 hours west above
this place (may be the 'golden cave' mentioned by Contandriopoulos?). Up to
now the Ghiona is the only region where P. hirtiflora is known to be
tetraploid (2n=32).

3. Mt. Chelmos: As it was on our way to Poros island we revisited a
site of hexaploid P. hirtiflora (2n=48) near Megaspilaeon on the
Pelloponnes which I knew already from the first Greece trip. The site
is at 900m, and as already in the July-trip it was late and totally dark
when we reached it. While Ivo illuminated the plants with a pocket lamp
I focussed my flash/macrozoom camera to shoot pictures. The site is
considerably warmer than the Ghiona habitat, still many plants were in
flower and yet no signs of winter rosettes.

4. Poros island (eastern Pelloponnes): Casper mentiones also the Poros
island for P. hirtiflora, which would be the southernmost site of this
species. There are (were!) two springs on the island, but both are
destroyed and all water comes out from reservoirs. We also followed the
largest valley from top to bottom (sea level) and, guided by natives, we
visited two springy sites on the continent (Pelloponnes) belonging to the
Poros district (for Greeks Poros means the whole district and not only the
island). Nothing at all, dry, dry. I think in Poros P. hirtiflora is
exstinct. The need for fresh water (tourism, hotels) urges the people to
drain really the remotest little spring and the technology of the cheap,
light and flexible polyethylene tubes additionally facilitates this

5. Euboea island: At Achmetaga (northern end of village Prokopi, E of the
Mt. Kandilio) there is much water but collected in a long pipeline. We
followed during more than 2 days really each one of the numerous forest
roads on the eastern side of the Mt. Kandilio. There are (were) several
springs with quite a lot of water but all are pipelined into reservoirs.
Even the mayor of Prokopi (whose wife is english teacher in the local
school) helped us and showed us personnally a creek. Water yes, Pinguicula
no. He remembered the name of Quezel (or was it Honsell?) 'who studied the
flora of the island' and he showed us a rather new looking list of the
flora of Euboea island where P. hirtiflora is listed as number 139 and
remarked 'no greek name', meaning that this plant is practically unknown in
Greece. On a five hours trek we also investigated the western side of this
mountain which is very steep and extremely dry. May be P. hirtiflora still
exists somewhere (investigation of the Mt. Dirfis region would be
worthwhile) but in short time really the remotest spring will be pipelined.

So our trip 2 was of limited success but at least we have now plants of
all known P. hirtiflora ploidies (in Italy, Albania and northern Greece P.
hirtiflora has 2n=16, in central Greece 2n=24 (Mt. Olympus) or 2n=32 (Mt.
Ghiona) and on the Pelloponnes 2n=48.

Most parts of Greece are - at least in summer - extremely dry. Springs,
creeks, or wet rock walls with water around all the year are very rare and
the progressive pipelining of all these water resources will very soon lead
to the extinction of the few relict plant associations of such habitats.

If anyone is interested to continue Pinguicula investigations in Greece Jan
Schlauer, Ivo Koudela or I could provide additional information.

Dr. Juerg Steiger, Institut fuer Aus-, Weiter- und Fortbildung IAWF
University of Bern, Inselspital 37a, CH-3010 Bern, Switzerland
Office: +41 (0)31 632 98 87, Home: +41 (0)31 972 19 79
Fax: +41 (0)31 632 98 71, E-mail: