Where is it found ?
Allium calamarophilon is endemic to the island of Euboea (Evia), one of the largest islands in the Aegean Sea. The only known population, comprising just a few individuals, was discovered in the centre of the island north-east of the small town of Kimi, in 1981. The plants grow between 20 and 30 m a.s.l. on limestone cliffs that rise almost vertically from the sea (habitat 13.1: Sea cliffs and Rocky Offshore Islands).
How to recognize it ?
This plant looks like an onion. A smooth, non-branched 9-13 cm long stem emerges from an underground bulb. One to three leaves are wrapped around the lower third or quarter of the stem, and are more or less equal in length to the stem and 1-1,5 mm wide, slightly canaliculate. The flowers are white to pink and form bundles of usually five to eight flowers at the top of the stem on more or less equal pedicels. Each flower has five or six tepals that are joined at the base. One stamen is attached to the inner part of each tepal base and the ovary is slightly heart-shaped. The species flowers in July and the fruiting period occurs in August.
The name of the species originates from the site where it grows, which is well known to local people. Every year between July and August numerous squids of the genus Todarodes, locally known with the vernacular name ‘Kalamari’, concentrate for reproduction in the waters near these cliffs.
Why is it threatened ?
This species has been classified as DD (Data Deficient) according to IUCN Red List Criteria, meaning that there is inadequate information to make a direct or indirect risk assessment. In fact, more data are needed to evaluate its status properly, as it has not been observed since its first description in 1981! Due to the inaccessibility of its natural habitat, very little is known about its true population size and distribution and no data are available to assess population stability. The case of A. calamarophilon is paradigmatic of the difficulties of assessing risk level for species which are very poorly known.
A major threat for the species is a recent plan to build a road to access the nearby seashore (threat 4.1: Roads & railroads). This case also allows to emphasize the importance of undertaking environmental impact assessments before building roads or making other major modifications to the environment, because road construction may inadvertently destroy the only known population of a species.
What has been done to protect it ?
Legally: This species is not included in any international convention or national legislation and does not fall within any Natura 2000 site.
In situ: There are no current measures in place. In fact, no field research or monitoring activity has been promoted since the species was discovered.
Ex situ: A. calamarophilon has been cultivated between 1981 and 2000 at the Experimental Botanical Garden of the University of Patras as part of a genetics research project, although due to recent financial constraints the project has stopped and the species is no longer cultivated.
What conservation actions are needed ?
Field investigations are urgently needed to assess if this species still occurs in the wild and if there are any other populations elsewhere. Up-to-date information on both the distribution and the size of the population of the species may allow the set up of an appropriate plan for its conservation. Ex situ propagation initiatives both in Greek and international seed banks and botanic gardens should be encouraged as well. In fact, plants issuing from the propagation of seeds and bulbs could be used in future re-enforcement activities and/or to create new subpopulations in other suitable sites.
Prof. Gregoris Iatroú, Department of Biology, Division of Plant Biology, Institute of Botany, University of Patras, Greece.
Ass. Prof. Maria Panitsa, Division of Plant Biology, Department of Biology, University of Patras, Greece.
Red Data Book of Rare and Threatened Plants of Greece