Turkey’s Botanical Treasures

Flower bed at Topkapi Palace, Istanbul by John Picken

In spite of the number of lovely flowers that I have already growing in my garden, this GardenLady always dreams of more flowers. Which ones should I add to the garden when I divide and transplant or give away those that have overgrown their stay? As I have been going through some catalogs deciding on some more bulbs that I want to add to my garden, I realize that so many of my favorite flowers come from Turkey. For example, tulips are native to Turkey as are some of the fall blooming crocuses. See here. Now that Liquid Fence stops deer and rabbits from eating my tulips and crocuses, I am ordering more of both of these bulbs.

When this GardenLady traveled through Turkey in the early 1970s, especially driving through the eastern part of that beautiful country, I was amazed with the number of wild flowers I saw there. They were so many wildflowers, that I decided I would concentrate on seeing how many different flowers of one color that I could find each day I traveled. This was not a difficult undertaking, the wild flowers were so prolific. I had a cup holder in the car and I would fill a cup with a different color of flowers daily.

Though cutting the flowers does not hurt the plants, since this is what one does when one dead heads to encourage more blooms, if everyone did what I did, there would be few wildflowers for others to admire. Though I did this before this type of thing was prohibited, we know better these days and I would never recommend picking wildflowers. I recommend just looking and photographing the flowers. I wished I had a book with me for identifying flowers so I could know what the names of those flowers were. These days, I wonder if there are good books in English on the names of the Turkish flowers.

Since then I have learned that Turkey has an extraordinary degree of biodiversity with almost as many species of wild flowers as the rest of Europe combined; of the over 9000 species so far identified more than 3000 are native to the country, many found nowhere else on earth.  Many flowers cultivated in gardens around the world originated from Turkish cultivars. For example, I read that about 25% of all rose species are native to Turkey. One of Turkey’s major export industries is flower bulbs. Since many of these bulbs are quite rare, the Turkish government is working with international conservationists to protect the country’s botanical treasures.

One tour group I located on line seems to just take wildflower tours. I know nothing about the tour group but, their website shows lovely photos of native Turkish plants in the Iris, Lily and orchid family.  See here.

A Turkish person took this video of many of the wildflowers that grow in his area of Turkey.

2 Replies to “Turkey’s Botanical Treasures”

  1. Hi – I am planning a spring trip to Turkey to see wildflowers – especially bulbs. Do you know of any good books or other resources that are in English? Thanks,

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