Wildflowers, before the rain

One of the things about touring Israel is that you get to see a lot in a small amount of space. Because Israel is located on the land bridge between Europe, Asia and Africa and extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River in the Great African Rift Valley and from the Red Sea to mountains in the north it has a diversity of climates and habitats. These unique conditions are the main cause for the rich diversity of Israeli flora, more than 2500 species (compared to 1500 in the British Isles for example which is 10 times the size).

The Sea Squill (Urginea maritima, חצב מצוי) is a perennial of the lily family with a large poisonous bulb. The squill is one of ten species of plants called geophytes which bloom before the rains in Israel, in the driest part of the year and are a harbinger of winter. You’ll probably find the tall spikes of squill flowering by mid September. I saw some in Jerusalem while running along the tayelet, at the Museum HaTeva (Nature museum) and while hiking in the cliffs above Qumran.

 

You also won’t see the bright yellow Sternbergia (Sternbergia clusiana, חלמונית, from the same root as yolk of an egg) until just before the first autumn rains - don’t confuse them with the saffron and crocus that come after the first rains, these belong to the daffodil family.

This image was captured in November in the Yatir forest near Arad. On a hike we found Sternbergia growing in the wadi below Maale Rehavam near Herodium. I was touring in Ramat HaNegev and learned that there are Sternbergia in bloom in the wadi behind the Nahal Boker family farm. Moshe Zohar who lives there told me that this is the southern most point that they grow. I learned from a colleague who was on a hishtalmut (professional day) in the Golan that there are Sternbergia blooming below Har Hozek (conceivably the most northern point).

If you are interested in touring Israel including hikes to see and/or photograph flowers please contact me. In the meantime check out these 2 excellent websites, that give you a lot of information about flowers in Israel:

http://www.wildflowers.co.il/english/
http://www.flowersinisrael.com/

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3 thoughts on “Wildflowers, before the rain

  1. Pingback: Wildflowers, after the rain « Israel Tour Guide

  2. Pingback: Site Map | Israel Tours | Israel Tour Guide

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