Monday, September 28, 2015

Campanula tomentosa

Many different campanula are endemic to Turkey.

                     Campanula tomentosa (as syn. Campanula ephesia) plate 6715 in: Curtis's Bot. Magazine, vol. 143, (1917)

“In the year 2000 about 9300 species of vascular plants were known for the area of the Turkish Republic. The significance of this number becomes evident if we compare it with Europe as a whole, containing about 24% more species (about 11500), distributed over a thirteen times larger area.” (

I was aware that the area of the Turkish Republic was rich in endemic flora. I did not know about Peter Hadland Davis (1918-1992), the British botanist and his life’s work, The Flora of Turkey and the East Aegean Islands. In 1950 he began the research project. In 1952 he received his PhD on taxonomy of Middle East flora from the University of Edinburgh. In 1961 he intensified his efforts to complete The Flora of Turkey, which was finally completed in 1985. (

One web site about the book explains: “This monumental series presents the richness and diversity of Turkish flora in nine volumes (1966-85), plus two supplements (1988; 2001). It is a major contribution to the floristic study of South West Asia and the eastern Mediterranean region.”

The work was later co-authored. I believe there is a Volume 10 now.

The most important reasons for Turkey’s high plant biodiversity are relatively high proportion of endemics and a high climatic and edaphic (soil) variety.

“DAVIS & al. (1988) calculated that nearly one third of Turkish plant species (30.6%) is endemic to Turkey and the nearby Aegean Islands. For Austria the respective value is meagre 1.56% and for the British Isles it is still lower. Moreover, none of the endemic British species is taxonomically remote from a non-endemic species. One might unite all the endemic species with none-endemic ones, thus concluding endemism to be 0 % on the British Isles. On the other hand, rates of endemism are also highly dependent on the surfaces of compared areas and their delimitations. In order to achieve better comparable data one might unite the surfaces of Germany and France, thus obtaining an even larger area than Turkey. But the estimated proportion of endemics still would remain much lower, with Germany alone having about the same low proportion as Austria.

One reason for this relative importance of endemism in the Turkish flora is the mountainous and at the same time rather strongly fragmented surface of Anatolia. Since Darwin we know that geographic isolation between islands or separated mountains is an important means of speciation, leading to high spatial diversity. For Anatolia this assumption is confirmed by concentrations of endemism on highly isolated and relatively old massifs as Uludağ or Ilgaz Dağ, whereas very young volcanic cones as Erciyes Dağ or Hasan Dağ are surprisingly poor in endemics.” (

Campanula is one of several genera in the family Campanulaceae with the common name bellflower. It takes both its common and its scientific name from its bell-shaped flowers. Campanula is Latin for ‘little bell’.

The genus includes over 500 species and several subspecies, distributed across the temperate and subtropical regions of the Northern Hemisphere, with the highest diversity in the Mediterranean region east to the Caucasus.

The species include annual, biennial and perennial plants, and vary in habit from dwarf arctic and alpine species under 5 cm high, to large temperate grassland and woodland species growing to 2 meters tall.

The flowers are mostly blue to purple, sometimes white or pink. The fruit is a capsule containing numerous small seeds.

Campanula tomentosa is one of many pretty campanula species endemic to Turkey. C. tomentosa is almost a mounding looking campanula with shorter stems and bigger robust flowers of a lovely pastel blue color. Tomentosa is derived from the Latin meaning ‘covered in hairs’.


I don’t get the chance these days to go where C. tomentosa grows. It is found mostly on the Dilek Peninsula National Park jutting to the Aegean Sea. This place is right by the delta of the Meander River. The ancient city of Ephesus where the plant has been seen is not too far away either. A synonymous name for C. tomentosa is C. ephesia which means a native or inhabitant of ancient Ephesus.

Another species in the genus Campanula, Campanula rotundifolia is a perennial flowering plant in the Campanulaceae family native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Common names for it are harebell and bluebell.

I took these photographs at the Geneva Botanical Garden in the summer of 2014. Campanula rotundifolia is a perennial species of flowering plant spreading by seed and rhizomes. The flowers usually have five pale to mid violet-blue petals fused together into a bell shape about 12-30 mm long with pointed green sepals at the base. The petal lobes are triangular and curve outwards. The seeds are produced in a capsule about 3-4 mm diameter and are released by pores at the base of the capsule. As with many other Campanulas, all parts of the plant exude white latex when injured or broken.

                                    From Thomé, Prof. Dr. Otto Wilhelm, Flora von Deutschland Österreich und der Schweiz, 1885

The flowering period is long, and varies by location. The flowers are pollinated by bees, but can self-pollinate.

The photographs below are from a visit to Ephesus, Turkey in the summer of 1986. I never came across C. tomentosa myself.


Monday, September 21, 2015


“Every honey bee fills with jealousy
When they see you out with me
I don't blame them
Goodness knows
Honeysuckle rose…..”

Honeysuckle Rose composed by Fats Waller in 1929, lyrics by Andy Razaf for the show Load of Coal.

Honeysuckle is a flower that is featured in song, poetry and film. There are girls (Honeysuckle Weeks, British film star) and streets named after the honeysuckle.

                                                      Honeysuckle flowers are sweet smelling especially during the night.

“Many of the species have sweetly-scented tubular, two-lipped flowers that are creamy white or yellowish. They produce a sweet, edible nectar and most flowers are borne in clusters. There are shrubby and vining sorts of honeysuckle.” (

A flowering plant in the family Caprifoliaceae, the species Lonicera periclymenum is native to much of Europe. The name Lonicera comes from Adam Lonicer, a Renaissance botanist. “Growing to 7 m or more in height, it is a vigorous evergreen twining climber. It is found as far north as southern Norway and Sweden. It is often found in woodland or in hedgerows or scrubland. The plant is usually pollinated by moths or long-tongued bees.” (

“I know a bank where the wild thyme blows
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine’’

William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream (woodbine is another common name for the plant)

The fruit is usually a red, blue or black spherical berry containing several seeds; in most species the berries are mildly poisonous. Most honeysuckle berries attract wildlife which leads to invasive spreading outside of their home ranges. The leaves are opposite, simple oval, 1–10 cm long.

My own name is not a flowery name but a musical one. Beste means the melody as opposed to the lyrics of a piece of musical work.  I may have been the first Beste in Turkey. I have not heard of anyone else named Beste in my generation, whereas there are many Bestes now all younger than me. My father came up with the name after reading the poem Ses (sound, voice in Turkish) by Yahya Kemal Beyatlı (1884-1958). In a part of the poem, the poet describes hearing a ‘beste’ rising from the Bosphorus in Istanbul.

Bir lâhzada bir pancur açılmış gibi yazdan
 Bir bestenin engin sesi yükseldi Boğaz’dan.
 Coşmuş gene bir aşkın uzak hatırasiyle,
 Aksetti uyanmış tepelerden sırasiyle,
 Dağ dağ o güzel ses bütün etrafı gezindi;
 Görmüş ve geçirmiş denizin kalbine sindi.

Told in my own words that will not do justice to what the poet expressed:
As if a summer shutter opened, the exalted sound of a ‘beste’ rose from the Bosphorus. Elated yet again with the old memory of a love, it reflected back from the awakened hills one by one. That lovely sound hung about each mountain. It permeated to the all-knowing heart of the sea.

                                                                                             Honeysuckle on my brother Aydın’s front lawn in Maryland, USA, winter of 2013

                                           This looks like a honeysuckle kind of street.

Monday, September 14, 2015


Each time I see a Philadelphus shrub such as the one in the picture above I think of my dad, for he was the one who pointed out the plant and told me its name. This is one of those ‘summer-breeze, long sun-shiny days, tea-in-the-garden’ kind of plant for me.

In the family Hydrangaceae, Philadelphus is a genus of about 60 species of shrubs from 1 to 6 m tall, native to Southeast Europe, North America, Central America and Asia. Philadelphus coronarius is from Southern Europe. It is a deciduous shrub. The blooms are abundant and very fragrant. P. coronarius was the only species grown in gardens for a long time.

Philadelphus is named after an ancient Greek king of Egypt, Ptolemy II Philadelphus. The specific epithet coronarius means "used for garlands".

Sometimes misleadingly the name Syringa for Lilac (in the family Oleaceae) is used for Philadelphus. “The connection of the two shrubs lies in their introduction from Ottoman gardens to European ones, effected at the same time by the Holy Roman Emperor’s ambassador to the Sublime Porte (Ottoman government) Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq, who returned to Vienna in 1562” (

Indeed, Philadelphus was always in the company of people in high places.

Monday, September 7, 2015


Fuchsias are a beautiful life form and beautiful manifestations of life make us happy no matter what the theoretical physicist Michio Kaku would have us think. In his book Parallel Worlds (Anchor Books, NY, 2006) he writes about the stages of existence in a universe. He tells the reader: “On this scale, we see that the blossoming of plants and animals on Earth will only last a mere billion years (and we are halfway through this golden era today)”. He quotes astronomer Donald Brownlee: “Mother Nature wasn’t designed to make us happy.” “Compared to the life span of the entire universe, the flowering of life lasts only the briefest instant of time.” (P.297)

Fuchsia flowers are like bejeweled pendants (pendulous) and they for sure are a cause for happiness, ergo evolution must have had a plan about it all. Fuchsias flower throughout the summer and autumn, and all year with tropical species. In many Fuchsia species the sepals are bright red and the petals are purple. These colors attract the hummingbirds that pollinate them. The pollinators of the plant are oligoleges.

Fuchsia blooms in May

Oligolecty means that the pollinators, usually bees, are specialized on a plant family and have the morphology that can effectively pollinate the flowers. Fuchsia is in the family Onagraceae that is characterised by flowers with usually four sepals and petals. Nearly all the bees that visit the flowers of Fuchsia are oligoleges specialized on plants in the family Onagraceae.

I don’t know if these bees exist where the plants are cultivated. Other means of propagation may be used.

Fuchsia is a genus of flowering plants that consists mostly of shrubs or small trees. The first, Fuchsia triphylla, was discovered on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola (present day Dominican Republic and Haiti) about 1696–1697 by the French Roman Catholic monk and botanist Charles Plumier during his third expedition to the Greater Antilles. He named the new genus after the renowned German botanist Leonhart Fuchs (1501–1566) (

Fuchsia received its name officially around 1703 by Plumier who compiled his Nova Plantarum Americanum based on the results of his fourth plant-finding trip to America in search of new genera.

Most Fuchsia are native to South America with a few growing in north through Central America to Mexico and most are shrubs from 0.2-4 m tall. There are several that are native to New Zealand and Tahiti. A majority are tropical or subtropical.

The fruit of all fuchsia species and cultivars are edible. Fuchsias have become popular garden shrubs, and once planted they can live for years with a minimal amount of care.

There is a British Fuchsia Society that maintains a list of "hardy" fuchsias that are known to have survived a number of winters throughout Britain and to be back in flower each year by July.

In the United States, members of the American Fuchsia Society brought back approximately 50 plants to California from a trip to Europe in 1930.

This is a well-traveled plant.

  Photograph:Tülay Karayazgan