As part of an ongoing programme to introduce the Cyprus public to the flowers that grow on the island, the ministry of agriculture on Tuesday urged the public not to pick any Persian lily flowers they might spot.

With only 3,300 flowers growing in Cyprus, Fritillaria persica is considered endangered and can be found in the red book of the threatened plants of Cyprus.

Commonly known in English as Persian lily, it is a bulbous perennial of the lily family with tall stems and dark, plum-coloured flowers. It is also native to Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Jordan and Israel.

In Cyprus, confirmed populations have been spotted in Lefkara, Kritou Tera and Kathikas, but since they are mostly located on private land they are vulnerable to pests, intensive farming and urban development, the ministry said.

In addition, the plant has been widely collected by locals for decorative purposes.

“Fritillaria persica is a plant to be admired in its natural habitat, and not in a vase,” the ministry said, “so we can help it multiply and spread”.