Dionysias in Iran

Dionysias somehow remind me of those boxes of Quality Street that we used to get at Christmas, the intense pink fudgy one and the brilliant yellow toffees! This year’s trip to the Iranian Zagros, was if you are into Dionysias, like visiting the proverbial sweet shop. We found no less than fifteen species in bloom, and my what bloom. 

Here are a selection of fabulous cushions that would walk off with prizes at any show. Highlights were the splashes of yellow Dionysia haussknecktii all over the rocks below Carpet Mountain, the lovely massed displays of pink Dionysia bryoides in the Hanna area and the unusual large-flowered Dionysia bolivarii near Gandoman. Perhaps the most amazing sight was the strawberry ice-cream coloured cushions of rare Dionysia iranshahrii near Agdak, made all the more memorable by the little patches of yellow Draba pulchella mixing in with them and the lovely red goblets of Anemone biflora growing nearby. Though Dionysias have a reputation of growing on cliffs and other inaccessible locales we found them to be generally quite approachable without too much walking or even clambering! One memorable gently sloping series of limestone outcrops were smothered in Dionysia zagrica, the plants varying from clear yellow to rich egg-yolk yellow, and here there fabulous Crown Imperials growing near them. Iran has a truly amazing flora decorating its stunning mountain landscapes – do go and see it for yourself!

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