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The Smell Of The Algarve Serra Has Returned, But The Rivers Still Have Not

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The recent cold spell is over and the daytime temperatures are back in the low 20s, the evenings can still be chilly though. This morning I was out walking the dog and noticed something I’d been missing, the smell of the Esteva, in English it’s called the Gum Rock Rose and its latin name is Cistus ladanifer.

This extremely tough evergreen shrub covers most of the Algarve Serra which is why the hills look green. The plant produces a resin and its this very sticky substance that gives off the amazing smell. As you can see in the photo, there is new growth on the top of this branch. The small leaves are extremely sticky hence the return of the smell. I mentioned “tough”, yes this shrub can withstand extreme drought and requires very little water.

{Click image for a higher resolution}
Esteva Shrub

Right now, they are nothing pretty to look at, however, in a few weeks, these boring evergreens transform the landscape into what can look like snow-capped hills, the Esteva blossoms with bright white flowers. Once this transformation takes place, I will be out with the camera to bring you some views.

The Esteva resin is so full of aroma that it can be used for many medical and beauty products, however, today most locals use the shrubs as a way of starting their fires in the winter. Yes, the resin is very flammable, which is why it also causes issues during the hot dry spells when wildfires breakout.

So, spring is very much here in the Algarve, however, one thing is still missing! The rivers are still dry, most mornings I inspect the river where it flows through our land and as you can see, the pools are large, but no sign of the river running (Wally is standing on the riverbed). I have not seen our resident Kingfisher, Princessa for many weeks, I suspect she has travelled downstream in search of fish as this large pool seems empty of food.

Wally helping me inspect the River Pool

Yet again we have the promise of a few days of rain next week, but these promises so far have turned out to be nothing but small drizzle.


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