Wild flowers in Puglia

Last weekend we drove south to spend the weekend in Puglia, on the Gargano peninsula to be exact.  The sea was amazingly blue and it was so hot, the water was where I wanted to be.  On the map the Gargano is the spur on the boot of the Italian peninsula.  It is mostly a National Park and I’ve been told that in spring there are more varieties of orchids found here than anywhere else in Italy, some that are only found here.

While driving to visit some of the different towns we often stopped the car to enjoy the stunning views.  By the roadside were wild flowers that could obviously cope with the difficult conditions.

Right by the road I spotted this root;

Knurled and twisted root

what could it be?  The root of a tree? Cistus?

Following the roots to some green leaves…

the plant was much smaller than I had imagined it would be.

with the foliage and also a few flowers it was easy to identify as a Thyme, certainly the most tenacious thyme I have encountered.

At another stop I saw these beautiful flowers.

They also grow on cliffs, seemingly not to need and soil at all to survive.

From the buds that you can see, can you guess what plant it is?

Here’s a further clue.  We eat them in bud and in the fruit stage……

Here are all the stages; bud, flower and fruit

Did you guess? Yes, that’s correct.  This is the caper plant (Capparis spinosa).

The buds are picked and then either conserved in brine or under salt with no liquid which is the way I prefer to buy them as they have a more intense flavour, great on Pizza or in Spaghetti alla Putanesca.  The fruits (also conserved in brine) are often served along with olives for aperitivi.

I’ve tried to grow it in the garden but for a plant that seems to need so little to grow, it is very choosy and it is very difficult to encourage it to grow in a garden setting.