Photo 1. The purple flowers of S. subspicata subsp. liburnica provide an excellent pasture for honeybees. (Photo from the archives of P.I.Priroda)
Satureja subspicata subsp. liburnica and Allium ericetorum – Rich honeybee pastures
In the grassland regions stretching across the littoral slopes from Mt Obruč towards Mali Platak, Kamenjak, Vela Pliš and Gornje Jelenje, one of the most important melliferous plants of the Mediterranean-montane vegetation zone typically blossoms in the month of August. This is S. subspicata subsp. liburnica (Photo 1), a semi-shrub resistant to the bora wind that frequently blows on the exposed grasslands of littoral hillsides (Photo 2).
Photo 2. S. subspicata subsp. liburnica grows in habitats exposed to the bora wind. Mali Platak, late August 2017. (Photo by M. Randić)
Satureja subspicata is a species of Satureja, a genus of aromatic plants. In our region, botanists recognize a special subspecies –S. subspicata subsp. liburnica – that is endemic to the area stretching from the Karst of Trieste to the Velebit range (Photos 1 and 4).
In the grasslands in the Rijeka hinterland, S. subspicata subsp. liburnica usually blossoms after the first rains at the end of the dry part of summer. As a rule, this happens around 15 August. Not many other plants blossom in the grasslands at that time, with the exception of Allium ericetorum, a species of onions, which has pale yellow flowers (Photo 3).
Photo 3. Allium ericetorum blossoming on the Mediterranean-montane grasslands of Mt Obruč (Photo by M. Randić)
Honeybees and natural pollinators – bumblebees – diligently visit the indigo-coloured flowers of S. subspicata subsp. liburnica and the pale yellow flowers of Allium ericetorum. This late-summer floral duo of contrasting colours often signals the last rich honeybee pasture of the year, as well as the coming period of frequent autumn rain which will make it difficult for hymenopterans, membrane-winged insects, to gather nectar and pollen.