The ministry of agriculture chose the humble Cypriot donkey thistle (Onopordum cyprium), to mark world environment day on Saturday, saying it highlights the intrinsic role all plants play in maintaining balance and perpetuating the island’s ecosystems.
This year’s environment day, marked on June 5, was dedicated to action to restore and revitalise ecosystems and signals the start of the UN’s decade aimed at stopping the loss of biodiversity.
The donkey thistle is an endemic plant found in many areas in Cyprus between zero and 1,250 metres above sea level.
It is mainly found in fields, filed boundaries, along roads and in areas with heavy grazing.
A significant section of its population is found in protected areas and national parks or on state land where activity is controlled.
Donkeys love it, and it also possesses remarkable therapeutic properties known to humans since antiquity. Bees also love thistle.
The Onopordum genus includes some 50 species found around Europe, the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands, Caucasus, and southwest Asia.
It is represented in Cyprus by two species, Onopordum cyprium and Onopordum bracteatum, as well as a hybrid, Onopordum x makrisii.