From the average tourist’s perspective, Turkey might seem to be a Mediterranean country with a landscape and climate similar to Greece. But as you move past the western coast and into central and eastern Anatolia, an array of unique vistas opens up. The many mountain ranges that cross Anatolia divide the land into distinct climates and environments. Over the millennia, these natural barriers have fostered local species and allowed them to survive. Compared to Western Europe, where around 1 percent of plants are endemic, almost one-third of Turkey’s flora are native and unique to their area. From one mountain to the next, Anatolia is a patchwork of biological history.
Wild mullein: called mor sığırkuyruğu (purple cow’s tail) in Turkish, its Latin name is Verbascum wiedemannianum. This plant has a tall, flowering stem adorned with rich purple flowers. It is commonly found in the provinces of Ankara, Erzincan, Hatay, Kayseri, Sivas, Tokat, and Bayburt.
This striking orange flower belongs to the Armenian poppy, named after the area of historical Armenia that is now within Turkey. The poppy’s range in northeastern Turkey crosses the modern-day borders with Armenia and Georgia.
The Turkish names sevgi çiçeği (affection flower) or yanardöner (shimmering) perfectly describe this flower’s frilly, iridescent petals. These flowers are only found in the village of Hacı Hasan in Ankara province. Sadly, the spread of farmland in the area is threatening these flowers’ survival.
Fritillarias are bulbous flowers in the lily family, and this one of Turkey’s native varieties has the Latin name Fritillaria aurea, meaning Golden fritillaria. This is a dwarf species with yellow flowers covered in checkered brown spots and is distributed through Central and Southern Anatolia.
Another kind of fritillaria, this flower grows in the Aegean and Mediterranean areas of İzmir, Muğla, and Antalya. The bell-like, golden flowers have a merry appearance. This fritillaria also has a smaller subspecies serpenticola that grows only in Antalya.
Although the Damask rose is not confined to Turkey, the country’s Isparta region is famous for growing these fragrant blooms, which originated in the Middle East or Central Asia. Perfume and beauty product companies around the world prize the rose oil produced from these flowers, which is rich in nutrients and has a therapeutic scent. Available from The Guide Shop, the gülsha range of Isparta rose products uses the expertise of French specialists to harness these qualities into all-natural skin care.