Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Equisetopsida - Order: Asparagales - Family: Asparagaceae
This pretty perennial plant is a member of the Asparagus family. Its six-petalled flowers are 2 to 3cm across and each petal has a distinctive dark central vein. Usually there is just a single, upright flower at the tip of each stem, but occasionally stems bear two and sometimes three flowers at their tips. The only true leaves are brown and papery (and therefore not able to photosynthesise) at the bases of the stems.
After flowering, each fruit capsule contains three black seeds. The rush-like stems usually grow to a height of 12 to 30cm - in fact when not in flower this plant looks very much like a clump of rushes. The plants usually grow to a height of 15 to 30cm, depending on the degree of exposure.
The flowers of Aphyllanthes monspeliensis can be seen from April through to July.
This plant favours stony or rocky ground at altitudes up to about 1500 metres.
This leafless wildflower can be found in southern France and other countries bordering the Mediterrannean including Italy. It is also recorded in Morocco.
The brown papery bracts beneath the flower are visible in the picture above.
The specimens shown on this page were photographed in the Aveyron region of southern France in May.
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