Flora of Mt Parnassos
Flora of Mt Parnassos
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The height and the relative isolation of Parnassus from the main ridge of Pindos, in combination with its geological diversity, contributed to the development of an interesting and often unique mountain flora. More than 850 plant species and subspecies are recorded to occur on the mountain. At least 4 species of these are local endemics (Centaurea musarum, Euphorbia orphanidis, Hieracium gaudryi subsp. gaudryi, Campanula topaliana subsp. delphica), at least 12 species have a limited distribution on the mountains of Central Greece (such as Paeonia parnassica, Silene barbeyana, Stachys swainsonii subsp. swainsonii, Campanula rupicola, Erysimum parnassi, Bupleurum capillare) and more than 50 are Greek endemics. Consequently, from the perspective of the floristic variety and rarity Parnassus is one of the most interesting mountains and these features combined with the easy access make it an ideal field for botanical exploration.
The glory of Delphi, the mystery covering Parnassianism and the charm of the landscape have attracted dozens of botanists since the 18th century. Consequently, many rare or endemic plants of Greece were first described from Parnassus and it is not strange that their scientific name contains the prefix ‘parnass’ or other characteristic toponyms of the mountain.
The toponym Delphi is found in the name of an orchid thriving there, Ophrys delphinensis, a red-maroon peony, endemic of Parnassus and Elikonas, is called Paeonia parnassica, an early autumn bulb of Parnassus is called Colchicum parnassicum, while the local subspecies of a widely spread autumn crocus is called Crocus hadriaticus subsp. parnassicus. Similarly, names related to the mountain also have the milkvetch of Parnassus (Astragalus thracicus subsp. parnassi), the skullcap of Parnassus (Scutelaria rupestris subsp. parnassica), a local bindweed (Convolvulus boissieri subsp. parnassicus) and of course some of the narrow endemic species of the area, such as the beautiful bellflower Campanula topaliana subsp. delphica and the centaury of Muses (Centaurea musarum).
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