Maltese cliff orache – il-bjanka tal-irdum
The Maltese cliff orache or il-bjanka tal-irdum is rarely found. It is confined to the southern to north-western cliffs of Malta and Gozo, including the Fungus Rock Nature Reserve.
This plant is perennial and grows as a dense shrub up to 80cm in height, occasionally more, with whitish to silvery fleshy elongate leaves. Its small flowers in clusters appear between September and December, with fruiting bracts turning purple.
This plant was first described in 1987 and dedicated to the eminent Maltese botanist Edwin Lanfranco. This plant is very primitive, being a pre-Ice Age relic and the only representative of the genus. The species has a very patchy and discontinuous distribution, which could perhaps be an indication of decline.
This plant is endemic to Malta and Gozo and therefore it has been declared a strictly protected plant under the Flora, Fauna and Natural Habitats protection regulations and one should not prune, fell or uproot this plant without previously obtaining the necessary permits from the competent authorities.