A low-growing wildflower, the Gibraltar candytuft (Iberis gibraltarica) is an abundant evergreen shrub that is native to the island of Gibraltar (2). A perennial species, the Gibraltar candytuft has green, fleshy leaves which may be oblong, wedge- or spoon-shaped, with distinctly toothed tips and a slight covering of fine hairs (3)(4).
The Gibraltar candytuft produces large, showy flowers of pink, pale lavender or white, sometimes suffused with red (3)(4)(5). Four petals form the shape of a cross, although the two inner petals have developed to become much larger than the outer petals (5). The lower outer flowers open first and have longer stems than those towards the middle, creating a beautiful flat-topped inflorescence which covers the entire plant when it is in bloom (5).
Part of the common name of this species, ‘candytuft’, was originally given to Iberis umbellata, from Crete, and is derived from ‘Candia’, the old Venetian name for Heraklion, the capital of Crete (5).
In the wild, the Gibraltar candytuft is common among crevices on the north face of the Rock of Gibraltar (5). It appears to prefer warm spots on banks or rocky places (2), and thrives in poor, dry soils (4).
A plant which retains leaves all year round. This is in contrast to deciduous plants, which completely lose their leaves for part of the year.
A category used in taxonomy, which is below ‘family’ and above ‘species’. A genus tends to contain species that have characteristics in common. The genus forms the first part of a ‘binomial’ Latin species name; the second part is the specific name.
The reproductive shoot of a plant, which bears a group or cluster of flowers.
A plant that normally lives for more than two seasons. After an initial period, the plant produces flowers once a year.
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