The Grazalema poppy is a soft orange in colour and can be seen in the wild only in the Sierra de Grazalema (within Europe.)
It hangs off cliff faces, lodges itself between rocky clefts or is found tucked into natural pavement crevices.
The main flowering time is in the month of June and it was originally thought to exist solely here in the Sierra de Grazalema area but it has also been found in similar mountain localities in the western Rif and the Middle Atlas, Morocco.
(There are actually quite a few plants that are shared between the south western Andalusian mountains and North Africa as historically they were connected through this mountain chain.)
The altitudinal range of the Grazalema poppy is 900 to 1.600 m with most occurring between 1.100 to 1.350m. The temperature change at this altitude on the mountains through the course of a year can be quite dramatic spanning from snow coverage to a baking drought.
This plant species is limited to the north and north east facing slopes as these are slightly cooler and more humid. If the plant has grown in favourable conditions it may survive for 15 years, others falling in less hospitable terrain die during the summer, hopefully not before setting seed.
The seeds are dispersed close to the parent plant by wind throughout the summer and germinate with the autumn rains. If these arrive late the plants may not grow strong enough to survive the winter.
This hardy perennial plant can have around 1000 to 2000 seeds within one seed pod, but as only around one per cent survive to reproduce they are on the list of protected species within Andalucía. There are various reasons for this low number, the main one is being grazed by wild and domestic goats which can remove 50% of the flowering shoots.
Some plants that escape this fate are those on sheer cliff faces but the seeds from these may fall into deep, moving scree slopes where they can not grow.
For an alternative way to see the Grazalema poppy in flower visit the Botanic Gardens “El Castillejo” in the village of El Bosque on the western side of the Sierra de Grazalema natural park. As with most poppies a morning visit is recommended as they drop their petals during the afternoon.
Scientific name: Papaver rupifragum Boiss. & Reut.
Spanish common name: Amapola de Grazalema
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