Date: 24th June 2021
Presenter: Matthew Segall
*featured image: As plant of the week, we present the Illyrian gladiolus (Gladiolus illyricus, sl. ilirski meček), native to the south and east parts of Europe. From May to June, it can be found on extensively managed meadows (where farmers do not fertilise the soil and mow only once a year or so). Marshy grounds seem to be favourable to it — at least in Slovenia, it is characteristic of meadows that are (mostly in colder seasons) flooded by the intermittent lakes. The gladioli pictured here were found on the shore of Petelinje jezero, an intermittent lake near Pivka.
Gladiolus is a diminutive for gladius, which in Latin stands for a sword that was used by Roman legionaries. Seemingly, the gladioli’s leaves resemble tiny swords.
From the 18th century onward, gladioli were popular in horticulture. The cultivars were mostly hybridized from South African species that were shipped to Europe through the Indian Trade Route.