Friday, April 6, 2012

Daphne rodriguezii: the art of camouflage

 It plays the hiding place with the wind of Menorca

This exclusive endemism of the Island of Menorca and the near Island d´en Colom is a true artist of the cripsis or camouflage. Its small size, its discreet and little compact foliage, its flowers of a white color extinguished or cream that merge perfectly with the sandy ground on which it lives and their preference to grow under other shrubs with which it intermingles their branches make it happen unnoticed completely. All botanists who have studied it are agree on how easy is to go near it ​​and see not it.
Flowers of Daphne rodriguezii at the beginning of April. I recommend to extend the photos with a double click to appreciate better the details. 

Floral cocoons of Daphne rodriguezii that keep extraordinary a similar one with those from the jasmin.

This Minorcan endemism grows in coastal maquis of the very windy coasts, coverall those of the East of the island. The form of the leaves and its tendency to grow almost level with the ground under other shrubs, coverall Pistacia lentiscus and Phyllirea latifolia var. rodriguezii, with their branches intermingled with those of these, protects it of the strong winds that usually whip the North and East of Menorca. It lives between the 5 and the 80 msnm.

The flowers of this small shrub of the Thymelaeaceae family can be white or cream color. In the image a unit with abundant flowers of cream color can be seen. 

The delicate and discreet color of the flowers allows it to camouflage perfectly with the siliceous sand ground of the coastal zones of Menorca and the Island d´en Colom. This small island of only 59 hectares is included in the Natural Park of s´Albufera des Grau. It is separated of the northeastern coast of Menorca by about 200 meters of sea with an immaculate water of a gorgeous turkish blue color and in it lives the most important population on Daphne rodriguezii. (To see the plane of  Parque Natural de s´Alburera des Grau)

This shrub rarely surpasses the 50 centimeters of height. Their branches are short and intricate, new with appressed hairs and old glabrous. The crust is grayish.

The other variety has the flowers of a white color extinguished that do not call anything the attention when happening next to the shrub. 

 The flowers are very small. They have the sepals and petals united forming a tube called hypanthium that usually has purple dyes and measures between 7 and 11 millimeters in length. The 4 sepals open in the end of the flower and they do not surpass the 4 millimeters.

Sprouting spring to early April.

This Minorcan endemism is catalogued like very vulnerable and in serious danger of extinction for being very sensible to the alteration of its habitat. It is including in the Red List of the Spanish Vascular Flora, in the Directive Habitat and the Agreement of Berna.

The leaves of new buds are suborbicular or obovate; the others are obovate or elliptical with the apex cleared and attenuated in the base. All are persistent, coriaceous, of dark green color and shining by the beam and paler by underside, with the margin revolute and provided of short hairs of 0´2 millimeters. 

Red-orange, fleshy and globose fruits of Daphne rodriguezii, including in the hypanthium until reaching the maturity. Usually they measure about 5 millimeters. They mature at the beginning of the summer. The fruits are eaten by the lizard Podarcis lilfordi, which then disperse the seeds with their droppings.

This endemism was found by the prestigious Minorcan botanist Joan Rodriguez Femenias in 1866. For its correct classification he sent samples to a botanical friend, Joan Teixidor Cos, who with very little ethics published it as an own discovery two years later in 1868. Despite it is necessary to say to his favor that had the detail to dedicate the new plant to his Rodriguez friend, giving it his name to the species, Daphne rodriguezii. Dr. Joan Rodriguez Femenías, very victim, a year later tried to register the plant with a new name, Daphne vellaeoides, but the international norms of nomenclature of species give priority to the first registered name and the name that he put it has stayed as synonymous.


  1. Hello Joan! What a wonderful blog and great pictures.
    We are visiting Menorca next week and we are both keen to see wild flowers :-) I wonder if the Daphne will be fruiting then? Do you have any tips where we might go to enjoy wild flowers?

  2. Hello Mel:

    Thank you very much! You are very kind.

    The Minorcan Daphne rodriguezii produces its fruits in june. Now possibly have not fruit. I know very little about good places where see wild flowers in Minorca. I am sorry.

    I desire you have a very good holidays in Minorca.

    Best regards