Lalades, Chios’ wild tulips
Spring has arrived and our spirits have been lifted at the thought of the colourful wildflowers that flood Chios countryside. Of course, the colour red will dominate the green fields of the island the next few weeks. In a few days the olive and almond orchards of Chios islands will be covered with the special Chios wild tulips, called lalades by the locals.
There are four species of wild tulip (toulipa aegenensis, toulipa udulatifolia, toulipa clousiana, toulipa praecox), and the three of them are found exclusively on Chios island, mostly at the central and southeast part of the island. The name lalades comes from the Persian word for tulip, “lale”, which has passed in Chios dialect through turkish. These delicate and elegant flowers create a unique landscape that has inspired poets, painters, photographers and cinematographers over the years.
Unfortunately, in the recent years the numbers of lalades reduce every year, because of the uncontrollable and careless collection of flowers. If someone picks a tulip with its bulb, then the tulip will not be able to flower the next year – it is destroyed.
If you have the chance to visit Chios countryside the next few weeks, you will be able to admire, enjoy and photograph a red carpeted field, at the same time paying attention to protect and preserve the flowers. If you would l like to pick a couple of lalades, make sure to cut the flower’s stem but take care not to pick the bulb!
As Konstantis, the hero of Petros Martakis Chios Humourous Stories, tells his friends: “Guys, don’t step on the crops and the flowers! Pick just a few of the lalades at the side of the field. But then, why pick them? Can’t you see they are like fires of the spring, painted by byzantine artists in this crazy beautiful icon you have in front of you?”