The presence of limestone and granite in Prespa’s single, mountainous watershed means that plants that prefer one or the other as their dwelling ground can both find a home here, from delicate mountain violas to towering lizard orchids.
On the Greek side of the lakes basin alone, over 1,800 species of plants have been recorded. Crocuses are amongst the first to open in late winter, bearing spring upwards through old leaves and the pale, fallen grasses of a passed summer.
Wild narcissus – the poet’s daffodil – lends the green of May a crown of white. Surviving in a few remnant patches where an older ecosystem of marsh and floodplain has been largely converted to agriculture, they’re the meadow-memories of an earlier age.
Wild tulips cast light on the sub-alpine meadows in summer, as if fragments of a scattered sun.
And perhaps the strangest and most extraordinary of Prespa’s plants: Phelypaea boissieri. Velvety in texture and parasitic on other plant species, it is found on a single mountain meadow in the basin and is one of Europe’s rarest wildflowers. Another of the region’s floral riches.
Last week restrictions on movement were eased here in Greece and yesterday I hiked up to see the Phelypaea boissieri in all their spring splendour, bringing us full circle on this #journeyfromhome during lockdown, when I’ve been revisiting places and wild species where I live through memory and archive photos. In case of interest, please see parts one, two and three. If, for any reason, lockdown is imposed again to prevent the further spread of Covid-19 then I’ll pick up this journey from here. Stay well, everyone.