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Greek Islands Travel

Crete attracts tulip lovers

Botanists fly in to study the Cretan flora.

The warm spring weather has not only brought early holidaymakers pouring onto Crete beaches but it has attracted botanists too. Each year around Easter, the island's rare flowers flush into bloom entrancing nature lovers and scientists who seek out some of the rarest flowers on the planet.

This year, groups of botanists from as far away the US and Japan have flown in to study the Cretan flora, especially the island's rare orchids and tulips.

Many head for the Omalos plateau in western Crete where wild tulips grow in profusion. Other head for the region around Spili and to the Gious Campos plateau where there is a wild tulip on that grows here and nowhere else in the world.

The tulipa doerfleri, the red tulip of Crete is one of five endemic tulip species that are native to Crete and this one grows only on the small plateau of Gious Cambos, near the Amari Valley, and in April the plateau is carpeted in red tulips.

Other tulips native to Crete are tulipa cretica, found all over the island; tulipa goulimyi that grows around Chania; tulipa bakeri which is found on the Omalos Plateau and the mountainous growing tulipa saxatilis.

Botanists not only come to admire and study the flowers, they also come to show the Cretans how best to protect these wild native strains and take care of their heritage and the wild tulips that grow here and nowhere else.

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