March 2012 – A botanical walk in the Calanques with Gérard Weiner
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On a bright and beautiful morning in March, twenty-five of us and a well-behaved dog gathered in the hills between Marseille and Cassis for a walk along rocky tracks, through scrubby pine woods, to the sea.
We were led by a passionate plant hunter, Gérard Weiner of the Pépinière Botanique de Vaugines. Gérard often comes here to this protected site with a very specific ecosystem to collect seeds for propagation. The soil covering on the limestone is almost non-existent and plant roots are anchored by the numerous faults and fissures in the rock. On this walk he was leading our group and also hoping to find a particular plant, Pistacia x saportae, a natural hybrid of P. lentiscus and P. terebinthus.
Gérard had prepared a list of about 40 plants that he thought we might find, and indeed, many of them were growing beside the path:
We ate our picnic lunch in the Calanque de Sugiton, overlooking a glittering but rough sea.
Suddenly Gerard’s eyes lit up, he had spotted a small plant. “Voilà! C’est l’hybride pistacia!” He was happy and so were we.
Text: Christine Daniels
Photos: Hubert Nivière