Mediterranean Garden Society

» Home
» About
» Membership
» Journal
» Sparoza Garden
» Branches
» AGMs
» MGS Forum
» Seed Exchange
» Donations
» MGS Excursions
» Information
» Members' Gardens
» Book Reviews
» News & Views
» Contact
» Search


Frederico Garcia Lorca and the 'Caracola Real'

Text and photographs by Meye Maier

For the full article see The Mediterranean Garden No 42, October 2005.

In his poem "The Unfaithful Wife", Federico Garcia Lorca writes:
"Neither tuberoses nor caracolas have such a delicate complexion..."

Meye Maier wondered what plant the caracola could be (the word is used in Spanish to describe a conch-like seashell).
A visit to an old garden in the district of Santa Eufemia, in Seville brought her into a patio whose walls were covered by a climber; hanging like bunches among the leaves were unusual small shell-shaped flowers that appeared to be made of porcelain, with a delicate perfume reminiscent of tuberose and jasmine. The owner told her that it was a "Caracola Real", once very common in the sunny parts of Sevillian patios but these days not easy to find.

Now, having finally understood Lorca's metaphor, Meye set out to discover the plant's botanical name.
Carmen Jimenez, the Director of the Botanical Garden of Cordoba, identified it as Vigna caracalla (syn. Phaseolus caracalla). It originated in the Americas and has been known to exist in Andalusia since the 17th century, according to the herbaria of Cordoba. Needless to say, it now flourishes in Meye's garden in Carmona, releasing its perfume as night falls.

Summarised by the editor, Caroline Harbouri.

All content (c) copyrighted by source or author, not to be reproduced without authorization.

website designed and maintained by Hereford Web Design