Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cappadocia / Kapadokya

After Antakya, my plan was to return to Istanbul making several stops in different areas along the way, and photograph the spring flora. But the night my friends and I arrived in Ürgüp, the main town of Cappadocia, I started feeling a suspicious tickle in the back of my throat...and by the next day I had the worst cold I'd had in years. I did manage to get out that day, but the next day was so miserable that I didn't even leave the hotel. Which was, by the way, a really wonderful place.

Cappadocia is truly amazing, and no picture can quite capture it. The towers of soft volcanic tuff rise up everywhere, and anywhere there is tuff, there are ancient dwellings. The rock is constantly eroding, so some former homes are now fully open; in some cases only a depression in the stone remains; the back wall of what was once an entire living space.

The soil around the "fairy chimneys" is very light and fast-draining, so the plants that grow in it are well-adapted to drought, either through succulent tissues as in some of the thick-stemmed Euphorbias, or as ephemerals, which grow in the rains of fall, establish themselves further through the winter, then rush to grow, flower and set seed in the spring before they're dessicated by the parching summer heat.

A sample fairy-chimney landscape.

Some random flora among the chimneys

Graveyard and orchards where fields meet tufa

An anemone in a fallow field. In Turkey, many plant families are represented by red flowers with black centers.

More fields and orchards. What a place to live!

An unexpected green spot among ancient rock dwellings in the Göreme open-air museum.

Alkanna sp. (orientalis?)

Can't have a wildflower post without at least one Verbascum!

An Anchusa species very common in much of Turkey, which can range from blue through purple shades. I adore it.

The remains of a once enclosed home.

Ranunculus (buttercups) growing above a valley near Göreme.

A peaceful valley near Göreme that we accidentally drove into while looking for another site.

A short video shot in that same valley

More Anchusa, showing the range of color.

What looks to be a truly lovely clover species

More spring ephemerals. In another month, they'll all be dry straw.

A non-botanical shot which I couldn't help but add. I saw two stern parents disowning their pregnant and unmarried daughter...

Anchusa and an aromatic mint family-member in the spring grass

Anchusa in the field. The white mound of gravel behind is all that remains of what was once a fairy-chimney that has eroded away.

Some chamomile growing among old building stone

Another truly lovely Euphorbia. It was almost entirely made up of flowers!


College Gardener said...

Beautiful pictures! Unfortunately I have only been to Cappadocia in the summer, so there were not nearly as many flowers.

Sazji said...

Yes, things in most of Turkey get pretty crispy in summer! I'd imagine you'd find some nice Mullein and Hollyhock-like species around; as well as some Borage-family members; some of them are quite tough. But April and May are the months for real flower fests; June and even early July if you go to the mountains in the Black Sea. I'm hoping to be back through Cappadocia in September, and maybe collect seed of a few of these.

Cheryl L. said...

I've really enjoyed seeing these pictures. Do you see many of the terrestrial orchids on your excursions? We enjoyed finding them on our year in Majorca and I know Turkey has many species.
Also, do you know the bird that is singing in the movie? It made me think of a nightingale.
Cheryl L.

Sazji said...

@Cherl L: I've seen lots of terrestrial orchids, both here and in Greece, though I didn't spot any in Cappadocia. There are a few species that are threatened in Turkey now because of the collecting of their tubers for salep, a type of aromatic and medicinal starch used for making hot drinks. Thankfully some are learning to harvest just one of the twin tubers, thus leaving the plant intact, but of course it's easier to take it all (and you get double the reward for your work). Ecologists here are trying to change the trend but nfortunately the idea that they could become extinct hasn't caught on among many of those harvesting it.

Cheryl L. said...

I had never heard of that use though I believe the shape of the roots has led to supposed medicinal effects. It would be sad to think of extinctions amongst them. I think loss of habitat is the main problem on Majorca and also in the U.K. though collectors have also done their damage there. I still boil remembering seeing a couple in a jeep go breezing past us on a wilderness road here in Arkansas with a Yellow Lady's Slipper Orchid in the back. Botanical pirate!