Ensuring the survival of endangered
plants in the Mediterranean

How to recycle your bridal veil for seed collecting

Between 15 and 19 June I was in Mallorca and Ibiza collecting seeds and participating in a Radio and TV programme with the staff from “Jardí Botánic de Sòller”.

One day we collected seeds in “Serra de Tramuntana” in the North of the island, an area rich in endemic flora. In particular, we went to the area of “Massanella” (one of the highest peaks on the island at 1345 metres) to collect seeds of Euphorbia fontqueriana Greuter, known as “Letrera” on account of its milky sap.  We walked for three hours to reach the mountain pass where the plant is found.

Photos: “Serra de Tramuntana” view from Massanella and habitat of  Euphorbia fontqueriana Greuter (Photo: T.Gil)

This small plant is endemic to the Balearic Islands and only grows in rock crevices and stony soils in Mallorca. In fact this is the only known population in the world with no more than 100!  This is why it is legally protected.

Photos: Euphorbia fontqueriana Greuter in flower being pollinated by ants (left) with green fruits growing in rocky soil (middle),  with seeds already dispersed after the explosion of the fruit (right) (Photo: T.Gil)

It has explosive fruits, which makes it quite difficult to collect its seeds. For that reason the best option is bagging the fruits before the seeds ripen and disperse.  The seeds will be trapped inside the bag and therefore easily collected. We used bags that Joana Cursach, a seed collector from Balearic Islands told us she had made from her bridal veil!

Photos: Euphorbia fontqueriana Greuter individuals with green fruits covered by a bag (left and middle), seeds trapped in the bag (right) (Photo: T.Gil)

While we were bagging the fruits Magdalena Vicens (Curator of “Jardí Botánic de Sòller”) spotted another target species for the project, growing in the cracks between the rocks and hidden among the branches of some dwarf bushes. It was Euphorbia maresii subsp. balearica (Willk.) Malag listed as threatened (IUCN Category: Vulnerable). As it also has explosive fruits we covered some of them with bridal veil bags. Well....to tell the truth at the end of the day, Joana confessed that she had bought tulle fabric instead of using her own bridal veil.

The positions of all bags and GPS points were mapped so as not to miss any when returning to collect the seeds.

It was a great but really sizzling hot day, with the temperature reaching almost 40˚C! By 2 o’clock I would have sold my soul for a bowl of “Gazpacho” (typical Spanish cold tomato soup) so a bit of shadow under a rock for a drink and lunch break was more than welcome.

The landscape was gorgeous with all the mountains, and the sea just visible on the horizon. It is amazing how these tiny endemic plants, living in this stunning spot, go unnoticed unless you bend down to look for them.

Photo: Joana Cursach collecting seeds in Massanella (Photo: T.Gil)

If you want to hear about the Radio and TV programme, go to “Events”.

Posted at Jul 09, 2013 | By : |


Nice job! Actually, Massanella is not the highest peak on Majorca (Puig Major is 1.445 m.)
Posted at Jul 13, 2013 | By : mariano |
Thank you for your comment. I have corrected the mistake.
Posted at Jul 30, 2013 | By : Teresa Gil Gil |