[Both this and Doc. No: 01422 were reproduced in Lady Smith's Memoir and Correspondence of the late Sir James Edward Smith, M. D. (London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green, and Longman, 1832), v. 2, pp. 293–296. The transcription below is from the original manuscript letter.]
Island of Corfu - 31st March 1826
I imagine it will be agreeable to you to have some account of the Botany of this island, which you may compare with that of Sibthorp <1> & others who have visited it probably at different seasons of the year. The aspect of it is very mountainous & clothed with olive woods; near the city, a fertile plain; I have not yet extended my rambles to any distance from the city; The orange trees are magnificent, and are now loaded with fruit; the olives are covered with their black berries. Gigantic Arundo Donax, and Cactus Opuntia of considerable size diversify the prospect. The extensive cultivation of the Artichoke is curious, it serves for hedges, & very pretty ones; there are hedges too of scarlet Cape Geraniums, more I think for ornament than protection In fact it is an open country, a garden. Here is a sort of calendar of Flora, which you may compare with Norfolk on the same day, if you have made similar notes: –
Corfu, on 31st March. - Elder-tree in flower; Brambles, do
Pomegranate, in young leaf, having the appearance of a red bush; Figtree in young leaf; Scrophularia peregrina in flower; along with the following plants in flower: –
Chrysanthemum segetum; Common Scarlet Poppy; Lathyrus alatus; Fumaria capreolata; Geranium, unknown to me, – like molle, but five or six times larger,– not pyrenaicum; Thlaspi Bursa pastoris, of a size little inferior to Cardamine amara; Asphodelus ramosus and Phlomis fruticosa, very showy plants; Anemone hortensis; Hyacinthus raccmosus; Ornithogalum exscapum (of Tenore), nanum (Sibth.?) which seems a mere variety of umbellatum; Helleborus viridis – this is not in Prodr. Fl. Græc.; <2> Lycopsis variegata, a charming plant, forming here extensive fields of blue; – Sibthorp says it is rare in Peloponnesus and the Archipelago, so that I suppose this island is its head-quarters; Ajuga reptans, extremely large; Symphytum tuberosum; Linum usitatissimum; Euphorbia dendroides; Chrysanthemum coronarium; Erodium malacoides and moschatum; Lotus ornithopodioides; Echium calycinum (not in Prodromus; Tordylium officinale, – this is the commonest umbelliferous plant on the island. At Ancona, in Italy, I saw the other day a scarlet corn-field; – arrived at the spot, I found it owing to a profusion of Tulipa Oculus Solis. – The weeds of the South of Europe are very handsome.
I can add to the list two Ophryses which are not in the Prodromus, – lutea, and aranifera, besides tenthredinifea. I observed today, in flower, Anagallis arvensis and cœrulea; Hippocrepis unisiliquosa; Saponaria ocymoides (not in Prodromus); Lunaria rediviva; Astragalus monspessulanus; Galium cruciatum; Spartium villosum; Cistus salvifolius; Anthyllis vulneraria (flore rubro), and Vicia lutea? Veronica Buzbaumii; Bellis annua; Scorpiurus subvillosa; Phalaris utriculata, very abundant (not in Prodr.) ; Trifol. resupinatum: Sherardia arvensis; Geranium dissectum; Lithosp. purpureo-cœruleum; and a noble Echium. I am convinced the beautiful Geranium of this island is distinct from pyrenaicum: the flowers are a fine rose colour, of the size of a sixpence, ornamenting all the road sides. Hedysarum coronarium (not in Prodr.). I wonder this showy flower did not fall in Sibthorp’s way.– I have found a Senecio that may be new: it is like vulgaris, wanting the ray florets, but much larger, and pale sulphur yellow, with long slender florets that are protruded and make a sort of bush.
There are now in flower some plants not in the Prodromus, viz. Lotus maritimus; Vicia grandiflora (sordida, Willd.). Cerastium maniticum (a curious species, hitehrto little understood, to which I would give the following specific character: "Cerastium erectum glaberrimum pedunculis longissimis erectis, clayce membranacco, petalis fere integris.” A curious little Euphorbia, (nova species?) resembling E. Peplus a little, but has a 5-rayed umbel, and echinate capsules: the petals also are entire, not lunate or horned. A species of Muscari with blue flowers of a large size.– Besides these, which seem a Melope additions to the Flora Græca, I see a beautiful Malvaceous plant, – a Malope, with rosy flowers 3 inches in diameter; blue Lupins; Bartsia latifolio: Serapias Lingua: Delphinium Stapisagria (not in flower); Coronilla cretica; Medicago circinata; Ornithopus compresus; Trifol. subterraneum; Picridium vulgare; Thelygonum Cynocrambe.
I remain, Dear Sir, with the greatest regard,
H. F. Talbot
Sir J. E. Smith
President of the Linnean Society
1. John Sibthorp (1758–1796), botanist.
2. Sibthorp, Floræ Græcæ Prodromus ( London: 1806–1813).