The small phoenix
Serbian Ramonda (Ramonda Serbica Pancic)
Conservation status: endangered
The Serbian Ramonda is a perennial plant. It is named this way because it was first discovered in the gorge of ErmaRiver in Serbia. Its semi-succulent serrated leaves are 4-7 cm long and 2-3 cm wide and are arranged in a basal rosette, narrowed at the base and rounded at the top. The stems reach 10 cm and grow in 4 colours. The cup of the purple blossom is 3-6 mm long and the corolla reaches 3 cm in diameter. The plant propagates by seeds and vegetatively and is flowering through April and May.
The plant is a Balkan endemic species (found only in the Balkan Peninsula). In Bulgaria the Serbian Ramonda can be found near villages of Mitovtsi, Prevala, Dolni Lom, Targovishte and Varbovo at an altitude of 350-900 m. The plant grows on limestone rocks and is a relict from the Tertiary (in the past geological times it occupied larger areas, but due to climate changes it has been preserved only in isolated areas). It is believed that the plant existed for 70 million years, i.e. contemporary of dinosaurs.
The Ramonda is commonly called “Phoenix Flower” or “Eternal Flower” because of its ability to anabiosis. This process is almost complete, but reversible cessation of vital activity. The living organism can emerge from this state under certain conditions and return to life. In our case, the “Phoenix Flower” can resuscitate after a year and a half. We owe this extraordinary discovery to the Russian botanist Pavel Chernyavski. The year was 1928 and the scientist quite inadvertently spilled a glass of water on one of his herbariums. Inside was also a Serbian Ramonda that soon began to blossom …
According to unconfirmed information Japanese scientists are interested in the plant; they want to unravel the genotype responsible for this, to say the least “drought tolerance”.
Despite its incredible superpowers the “eternal flower” is in danger of extinction. Due to the prolonged drought and human activity, the habitat quality deteriorates and now the plant is listed in the Red Book of endangered species. To prevent the extinction of the species, its habitats in Bulgaria are included in the European Ecological Network Natura 2000.