Sunday, April 15, 2012

the first leaves and more flowers

In Irati we have two species of elder, one is the common Elder (Sambucus nigra) with whose flowers can make a delicious elderberry champagne ,with  their fruits jams, and is very abundant.
Another one is the red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa), quite scarce and in the Iberian Peninsula their distribution is restricted to Pyrenees and close mountains.
In Irati both are now getting leaves, although in lower areas they began three weeks ago.

Red elderberry(Sambucus Racemosa)

First leaves of the black elder

We should necesary not confuse the black elder with  the Dwarf elder (Sambucus ebulus) which is very toxic, and we can to differentiate from the black elderberry  because the Dwarf elder are  not have woody stems , they are green, and  smell bad.                       

Other trees that  are now in bloom  or removing the leaves are the Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) With their fruits we make the "Patxaran" , well-known alcoholic beverage of Basque origin; patxaran: Basa (wild/ forest) + Aran (plum /valley .), because their fruits are really small plum fruits, very acidic and astringent that  their have never been crossed with other species to increase their size and sweetness.

Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa)


Red Hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata) and
common hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) both  are in the Irati  forest of Aezkoa, because this is a transition zone between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean climate.They  have  begun sprout  their leaves.Their fruits, called in some parts of Navarre " Shepherd´s little apples" are edible but with very few use to have a big bone on the inside that makes the amount of meat in almost neligible. For lot of wildlife, mammals and  birds, they are a  very important meal,and  is not unusual to see  excrements  of the wildlife  with many bones of this shrub.

In this photo from March 31 of this year, we can see a young  Willow (Salix  atrocinerea) sprouting, inspired by the good weather we were having.

 Common willow (Salix  atrocinerea)

There are other  plants in flowering, typical of spring, like this violets, or the primroses  of  the photo below, which in Irati  we have two classes, the Cowslip (primula veris) and True oxlip  (Primula elatior), lack the first and more common the second one.
they have medicinal uses, but prímulaVeris, especially, is scarce and should not be used for such purposes because  there are plants with similar virtues and more abundants

European dog violet(viola riviana)

True oxlip  Prímula elatior

Cowslip (Primula veris)

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