Calendula maritima

Calendula maritima

Calendula maritima, known as the Sea Marigold, is a very rare species from the family of Asteraceae. Some scientists regarded it as subspecies Calendula suffruticosa subsp. maritima (Guss.) Meikle. It is endemic to Sicily.

Description

This perennial plant reaches a height between 20 and 40 cm. The stems which can easily lignified on the underparts and the leaves are covered with short sticky hairs. The young stems are first erected, later they began to hang and spreads to the soil. In contrast to the Pot marigold the leaves are fleshy and have a strong smell. The form of the leaves vary from egg-shaped to linear depending on their placement on the stems. The basket-shaped blossoms have a diameter between three and five centimetres and consists of pale yellow single-standing petals. The main flowering period is from May to June.

Threats

The Sea Marigold is critically endangered and it occurs only in a small 10 km² large area in the nature reserve Riserva Naturale Saline di Trapani e Paceco between Marsala and the Monte Cofano in the Province of Trapani in the western part of Sicily. The habitat is under serious threat of destruction due to urban development (e.g. the expanding of the harbour of Marsala). Pollution of the salt-works and the competition of invasive plants like the Hottentot fig (Carbobrotus edulis) are further reasons for its rarity. The exact number of plants remaining is unknown.

Cultivation

The Sea Marigold occurs also in cultivated form. Most popular is the yellow Skyfire which can be seen on patches, balconies, plantations on traffic lights, buckets, and as plant-cover for soils.

References

  • Bertrand de Montmollin, Wendy Strahm & IUCN/SSC Mediterranean Islands Plant Specialist Group.: The top 50 Mediterranean Island plants : wild plants at the brink of extinction, and what is needed to save them.
  • Database entry includes justification for why this species is critically endangered

External links

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