SPECIES DESCRIPTION
LEONTICE LEONTOPETALUM

Family:- BERBERIDACEAE

Common Name:- Leontice

Synonyms:- None

Meaning:- Leontice (Gr) Lions-footprint (referring to the leaf shape).
                  Leontopetalum (Gr) Lion-petal (presumably relating to the shape of
the petal).

General description:- Short to medium perennial with a deep underground food
storage tuber, Hairless

Stem:-
   a) 20-50(-80) cm.
   b) erect, branched above.

Leaves:-
   a) up to 20 cm wide.
   b) lower with long stalks.
   c) upper stalkless (sessile).
   d) all arranged in whorls or clusters of 2- or 3 (-ternate).
   e) ultimate segments broadly obovate, entire; the lobes broad and untoothed.
    f) bluish or greyish-green.

Flowers:-
1) Inflorescence:
   a) pyramidal, composed of 3-7 racemes produced in the axils of somewhat 
       reduced leaves.
2) Flowers:
   a) 10-15 mm.
   b) borne in a broad pyramidal spike on long pedicels, crowded at first, later  
       distant.
   c) petals, 6-8, yellow.
3) Perianth-segments:
   a) c. 8 mm.
   b) ovate-oblong.
   c) honey-leaves 15 mm, less than as long as the stamens. 

Fruit:-
1) Inflated bladder:
   a) 25-40 mm.
2) Seeds
   a) 1(-2) globose.
   b) 5-8 mm in diam.

Habitat:- Cereal fields and olive groves, in deep, reddish-brown clay. 0-700(-1150)
m.

Distribution:- N. Africa, Crete and SE. Balkans eastwards, including Cyprus.
Rare and localised in Crete.

Flowering time:- Late Feb to mid-Apr.
      
Photos by:- Steve Lenton

Comments:-
The species does not tolerate competition from the shrubby garigue species that
eventually take over abandoned fields and terraces. It persists for some years, but
regular or occasional tilling of the soil is required for its long-term survival and
reproduction. Changes in agricultural practice, with deep ploughing (which disturbs
the tubers) and the use of herbicides, as well as abandonment of the land, are
causing species such as this to decline.