The Mediterranean Botanicals Collection:
Bay of Kotor

Bay of Kotor, Montenegro. Photograph: Joelle McTigue, 2016.

Over centuries, mariners returned to the Mediterranean with seeds and plantlings. In The Mediterranean Botanicals Collection: Bay of Kotor, I examine how the pursuit of empires, trade, legacy, medicine, religion, and aesthetics forged the coastal landscape of the UNESCO protected site.

The bay's naval fleet peaked at 300 ships to protect its prominent salt trade in the Middle Ages. But, its mariner history potentially traces back to the Balkan Bronze Age. Over millennia, great European empires (Roman, Ottoman, Venetian, Napoleon, Russian, and Austro-Hungarian) owned a piece of the Bay of Kotor for strategic and merchant gain.

Today the Bay of Kotor strives for architectural revitalization and preservation while maintaining its wild beauty and traditions. Venice, Italy, continues to finance the restoration of Kotor's Venetian structures. Retired naval facilities around the bay have converted into five-star resorts and marinas welcoming mega yachts. Every year at sunset on July 22nd, sailors arrive for the custom known as fašinada, throwing rocks in the sea near Our Lady of the Rocks, a sailor-formed island near Pearst.

The pursuit of empires, trade, legacy, medicine, religion, and aesthetics have forged the coastal landscape of the UNESCO-protected site.

Detail: Chimney Bellflower, Origin Southeastern Europe. Photograph Bay of Kotor, Montenegro, 2021. (The Mediterranean Botanicals Collection: Bay of Kotor)

Chimney Bellflower, Origin Southeastern Europe. Photograph Bay of Kotor, Montenegro, 2021.

Binomial: Campanula pyramidalis

The Chimney Bellflower is an Adriatic/ Illyrian native species from ancient times. In Lipci (near Risan), academics debate the intention and specific era (Balkan Bronze Age c. 1800 BC or the Balkan Iron Age 1100 BC – 150 AD) of rock paintings that depict lines and curves. Some scholars believe the drawings represent sailing ships and maps of the Bay of Kotor. The illustrations are the oldest depictions of Adriatic sailing and nautical maps in human history, if they are correct.

Edition of 3

Detail: Bengal Rose, Origin China. Photograph Bay of Kotor, Montenegro, 2021. (The Mediterranean Botanicals Collection: Bay of Kotor)

Bengal Rose, Origin China. Photograph Bay of Kotor, Montenegro, 2021.

Binomial: Rosa chinensis

Boka sailors brought home roses from the Bay of Bengal, China, for their personal gardens as fragrant privacy hedges during the rule of Venetian and Ottoman empires. To protect itself from the intense Mediterranean sun, the plant develops a purple pigment that acts as a sunscreen.

Edition of 3

Detail: Marvel of Peru, Origin Debated. Photograph Bay of Kotor, Montenegro, 2021. (The Mediterranean Botanicals Collection: Bay of Kotor)

Marvel of Peru, Origin Debated. Photograph Bay of Kotor, Montenegro, 2021.

Binomial: Mirabilis jalapa

Binomial: Mirabilis jalapa. Mirabilis [Latin] means wonderful, admirable, or marvelous. However, the use of “jalapa” in the binomial has been a point of debate among botanists for over 300 years. Irrespective of its discoursed nomenclature, the Marvel of Peru denotes a period of prosperity as it was a popular landscaping complement to brutalist architecture in mid-twentieth century Yugoslavia.

Edition of 1

Detail: Coconut Palm, Origin Brazil; Mimosa, Origin Australia. Photograph Bay of Kotor, Montenegro, 2021. (The Mediterranean Botanicals Collection: Bay of Kotor)

Coconut Palm, Origin Brazil; Mimosa, Origin Australia. Photograph Bay of Kotor, Montenegro, 2021.

Binomials: Cocos nucifera L., Albizia julibrissin

The Brazilian Coconut Palm tree’s first known transport to Europe from southern Brazil was in the 18th century. Seemingly out of place in the Mediterranean, the tree was nursed as an alternative fuel source in Yugoslavia. Instead, however, it became a statement of wealth in mansion gardens along the coast.

Naturalized around the bay from Australia, Herceg Novi, the city of sun, flowers, and stairs, celebrates the anticipation of Spring with the month-long Mimosa Festival because the flower blooms in February.

Edition of 20

Detail: Myrtle-leaf Milkwort, Origin South Africa. Photograph Bay of Kotor, Montenegro, 2021. (The Mediterranean Botanicals Collection: Bay of Kotor)

Myrtle-leaf Milkwort, Origin South Africa. Photograph Bay of Kotor, Montenegro, 2019.

Binomial: Polygala myrtifolia

Montenegro promotes its wild beauty. Municipalities set mandates of authorized plants for contemporary landscaping to maintain the ecosystems. Myrtle-leaf Milkwort arrived from South Africa but has since naturalized in the Bay of Kotor, making it an approved landscaping plant available at flower markets.

Edition of 10

Detail: Crimson Bottlebrush, Origin Australia. Photograph Bay of Kotor, Montenegro, 2021. (The Mediterranean Botanicals Collection: Bay of Kotor)

Crimson Bottlebrush, Origin Australia. Photograph Bay of Kotor, Montenegro, 2019.

Binomial: Callistemon citrinus

Crimson Bottlebrush originated near Botany Bay in southeastern Australia, where seasonal change affects the ecosystem like Kotor. The ancient walled city of Kotor sits at the innermost point of the bay, shaded by two steep and rugged mountains that create a biosphere for extreme weather. The city recommends planting the naturalized shrub because it thrives in the hot summers and fends off frost in the winter while producing its own natural herbicide.

Edition of 1 animation

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