HEALING HERBS AT EVERY STEP
An expert associate: mr.sc.Marko Randić, graduated biology engineer
100? 300? No, as many as 600 species of herbs grow in Ponikve!
Croatian naturalist, Dragutin Hirc (1853 - 1921), who was employed in the town of Bakar, studied in details its botanical area, wondered and admired the richness of the botanical world of Ponikve and its surroundings.
The Karst relief, the frequent blowing of the wind Bura and the periodically flooded soil of Veliki lug and Mali lug in deep Ponikve allows the development of a diverse and distinct plant world.
In a relatively small area which includes Ponikve sinkhole, the steep slopes of karstic hills and reefs of Gradina, Vojska, Učivac, Njigovina and Kičerine there are over 600 plant species. These species are joined in a dozen of different and ecologically diverse plant communities: forests, thickets and lawns.
One can enjoy flora diversity all the year round, therefore, every season is the right season to visit Ponikve.
WINTER BRINGS VIOLETS
In winter and before spring comes when most of the plants are still, the first flower bursting among the rocky limestone is endemic Adriatic violet.
In blossom is also early cornelian cherry, while in Veli lug wood, there are snowdrops and other spring flowers.
If you have a close look at Veliki and Mali lug, you'll notice some floodplains(quite rare in the Adriatic) of common ash (Fraxinus angustifolia subsp.oxycarpa) and wetland forest of European hornbeam (Carpinus betulus).
A grove of hornbeam on the southern edge of Veli lug is a habitat to rare Adriatic spring plants. They are linked to the remnant of humider continental type forests (snowdrops, white wood anemone nemorosa, yellow wood anemone nemorosa, yellow Star-of-Betlehem, primrose, toothwort, hollowroot, European wild ginger).
SPRING BOTANICAL RARITY
Look up for botanical rarities in spring such as snake's head (Fritillaria sp.), Poet's daffodil(Narcissus radiiflorus) and milky orchids (Orchidaceae).
If you find them, keep in mind that these are strictly protected species forbidden to pick and damage.
In late summer, due to drought and heat, "floral lull" usually occurs, so some plants need to be looked for in shady damp patches and in forests. In summer, rocky and sloping hills are exposed to droughts are covered by submediterranean forests and groves of white hornbeam and downy oak with a series of resistant woody species and varied herbaceous species.
AUTUMN FEAST FOR BEES AND INSECTS
When a smoketree and other woody species get the most colourful autumn colours, it is time to pick some sweet blackberries, cornelianan cherry, hawthorn, pomegranate and juneberry. Late autumn is a time of the year to farewell the last blooms of littoral savory and winter savory (Satureja montana/Satureja subspicata), hyssop(Hyssopus officinalis), meadow saffron (Colchicum kochii) and others, giving to bees and other insects the last honey grazing.
AN ENDEM OF UNUSUAL NAME
European Nature Protection Directive (NATURA 2000 species) has marked genista (Genista holopetala) as one of the most significant and rarest endemic plants of this area.
In a group of rocky pastures, there are numerous plant species adjustable to drought and the wind Bura. Many of them contain odorous esential oils and other beneficial substances used by men. Such herbs are traditionally used as healing herbs and (or) as a spice: littoral savory, winter purple savory, Iva grass, the wall germander, hyssop, healing sage, oregano. Some herbs are poisonous but with the utmost caution they can be used as healing herbs (for example: grecian foxglove). Some plants in grove communities, thickets and lawns are also used as healing plants and some as edible (example: spring shoots of wild asparagus).
THE MOST IMPORTANT TREE SPECIES
The most important types of trees and shrubs in this area are: downy oak, oriental hornbeam, european hop-hornbeam, manna ash, mahaleb cherry of St.Lucie cherry, smoketree and others. They are all joined in the submediterranean forest community of oriental hornbeam and downy oak.
FLOODED GROVES PECULIARITY
Occasionally overflowing Veli lug and Mali lug are rare examples of the area in Primorje/Coastal part/ where one can see growing flooded groves of common ash(Fraxinus angustifolia subsp. Oxycarpa) and wet groves of European hornbeam (Carpinus betulus)
THE MOST POISONOUS PLANT
The most poisonous plant is meadow saffron (Colchicum kochii). The pink flowers bloom in autumn. Its flowers are very similar to saffron flowers.
THE MOST SCENTED PLANT
The botanical deep soil peculiarity at the bottom of Ponikve is ground clematis (Clematis recta) whose many flowers when flourishing fill a sinkhole with an intoxicating scent in summer. But beware! A liquid from ground clematis can cause blisters on your skin.
PLANTS ON STEEP SLOPES
On the steep slopes of Vojsko hill there is a plant adopted community of winter savory, ribwort plantain and „mountain type“ of lawn with moor grass (Sesleria juncifolia).