Spain & Portugal 2007

Spain and Portugal 2007

There are about 13 native species of Iris in Spain and Portugal with nine of these occurring in western AndalucĂ­a and one in northern Portugal. Moraea (Gynandiris) sisyrinchium also occurs in AndalucĂ­a. We are looking particularly for 8 species:

I. boissieri,
I. filifolia,

I. juncea,
I. planifolia

I. xiphium
Moraea sisyrinchiu

I. foetidissima
I. subbiflora

Three species, I. germanica, I. belouinii and I. albicans, that are not known from the wild also occur here and may be encountered.

Hola from Grazalema

We spent the first two days of our trip near the town of Ronda searching on rocky hillsides where we found Moraea sisyrinchium. We then traveled to the village of Grazalema in the foothills of the Sierra del Pinar range where we spent three particularly productive days. We found a small, comfortable hotel in the village center although this small village. Each morning we had great coffee and rolls in the square and in the evening we returned for a light dinner in a tapas bar. We purchased goat cheese and bread for lunches since we were hiking most days. In a meadow we found Moraea sisyrinchium, a large population of I. xiphium, and many orchids. A group of pigs joined us for a while on our walk then left us to move further up the slope as we tarried in the meadow. Earlier experience informed me that pigs bite so I gave them lots of room but they were well behaved although curious. During our time in this area we found I. planifolia on a rocky slope and I. foetidissima higher in the mountains.


Grazalema Meadow


Grazalema Hotel

Grazalema Hotel


I. xiphium


Moraea sisyrinchium


I. albicans

Hola from Mijas

We spent five days exploring around Antequera and in the foothills above Nerja and Malaga where we saw I. planifolia, Moraea sisyrinchium and I. filifolia, all past flowering. We then moved to Mijas to search for I. filifolia thinking it might still be in flower. Mijas is a town built on a steep hillside in the Sierra de Mijas. These sites were defendable and the villages are picturesque. The downside is that finding your way is almost impossible and the narrow, steep streets are hard to maneuver in a car. We parked our car in a no-parking area across from the police station and walked to the tourist office three times for directions to the hostel, each time making it closer to our destination. The tourist office was easy to find because it was adjacent to the burro stalls and the noise of the burros guided us. After finding the hostel we moved the car to a lookout above the city that was near the hostel and carried what we needed to the hostel. The Arabs built villages with labyrinth streets and the Christians added squares. As a result you walk along very narrow winding streets then suddenly round a corner and find an open square. There are small businesses hidden in the streets and also surrounding the squares. For two days we hiked on hiking trails above Mijas. We found a few plants of I. filifolia along these trails in the Sierra de Mijas but they were also past flowering. We saw I. filifolia and I. albicans in flower on Gibraltar at out next stop after leaving Mijas.


Mijas view

Mijas Church


I. filifolia

Mijas view

View of Mijas

We left Spain having found all of the species we were searching for except I. juncea. We searched for four days for this species using Tarifa as a base. Iris juncea is similar to I. filifolia but has yellow flowers is reported to occur in the hills around Tarifa.


Ola from Geres

We flew to Porto from Madrid this morning where we rented a car and headed to the Sierra do Geres. We were not as prepared to travel in Portugal as we were in Spain. Because we have traveled some in Mexico and South America we know a few words of Spanish and we had a phrase book and an English/Spanish dictionary to help us. When renting the car in Porto we found that neither Spanish nor English would be understood in Portugal. We stopped in the first town we came to and bought an English/Portuguese dictionary. We found a small hotel south of the town of Geres and spent five days hiking trails on the border between Spain and Portugal searching rocky areas with mountain vegetation of cushion plants and heath for I. boissieri.This is an area with Roman roads and some restoration of On the fourth day we saw a root parasite and several other interesting plants indicating that there was some relatively undisturbed vegetation. After about 5 hours of searching we found I. boissieri. There were about 10 plants in the immediate area and more scattered around. We ate our lunch of cheese and bread then photographed. We considered hiking further as the species has a fairly broad elevational range and we were interested in seeing additional populations but due to the time of day we turned back towards our car. On day 5 we checked out the Roman road that runs through the area. It was a military road from Braga in Portugal to Astorga in northern Spain. Portions of the road are still intact complete with mileposts.


I. boissieri



Town of Geres

GereTrail-1 - 36


GereHabitat - 38