Category Archives: Wildflowers

Photo of the Week – Poppies in Emeq HaEla

In January it was kalaniot (red anemones) in bloom, now in April it’s poppies. I am always happy to take you exploring nature sites in Israel. This photo was taken in Emeq HaEla.

Poppies Emeq HaEla

The technical details – the photo was taken with a Nikon digital SLR camera in the afternoon (ISO 200, 35mm, F10 at 1/250 sec). Clicking on the image will display it larger.

Please share this post with your friends by clicking on the icons at the end of this message.

Photographs on this website are © Shmuel Browns (unless marked otherwise) – if you are interested in buying or using one of my photos for your own project please contact me.

Photo of the Week – Kalaniot in Negev

I am intrigued by the desert areas of Israel and find them fascinating places to photograph – I’d be happy to take you to explore and photograph. Rainy and cold all day yesterday in Jerusalem so I drove down to the western Negev to see the kalaniot (Anemone coronaria) in bloom one more time.


The technical details – the photo was taken with a Nikon 5300 digital SLR camera yesterday just before sunset (ISO 1600, 32mm, F9 at 1/250 sec). Clicking on the image will display it larger.

Please share this post with your friends by clicking on the icons at the end of this message.

Photographs on this website are © Shmuel Browns (unless marked otherwise) – if you are interested in buying or using one of my photos for your own project please contact me.

Two Tuviae, botanist and soldier

Iris Tuvia

Iris Tuvia

In 1947 Tuvia Kushnir, a brilliant young man, was a student at the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus. He was studying and researching the plants of Palestine (under the British mandate, before the State of Israel was declared). Tuvia was one of the first iris researchers in Palestine and identified an iris that bears his name Iris tuvia (also known as the King Uzziae iris).

And Tuvia also identified a kind of crocus that grows only in the desert that was named after him, Colchicum tuviae.

But 1947-1948 was a time when a botanist was also a soldier. On January 15th, 1948 with Gush Etzion just south of Jerusalem under blockade by Arab forces Tuvia was part of a group of Haganah soldiers under the command of Danny Mass given the task of carrying supplies to the defenders on the 4 kibbutzim in the Gush. They set out at 11pm, later than planned, on foot from Har Tuv, each man carrying 100 pounds of supplies on his back. They had to make a detour past the British police station so as not to be detected (as it was a capital offense for Jews to carry arms) and keep their distance from hostile Arab villages.


Har Tuv

Three soldiers turned back when a soldier twisted his ankle and was unable to continue leaving 35 – the Lamed-Heh (ל’’ה, two Hebrew letters that have the value 35). With the breaking of dawn the group was still about 5 km from Kfar Etzion.


Battle site of Lamed-Heh

They were discovered near the Arab village of Tsurif, the alarm was raised and hundreds of Arabs from the neighboring villages attacked the convoy. The battle went on all day, the Israeli soldiers fought until they had no more ammunition. All 35 were killed, including Tuvia.

In memory of the Lamed-Heh: Daniel Mass Yisrael Aloni Chaim Engel Binyamin Bugoslavsky Yehuda Bitensky Oded Ben-Yamin Benzion Ben-Meir Yaakov Ben-Attar Yosef Baruch Eitan Gaon Sabo Goland Yitzhak Ginzburg Yitzhak Halevi Eliyahu Hershkovitz Yitzhak Zvuloni David Tish Alexander Yehuda Cohen Yaakov Cohen Yehiel Kelev Yaakov Caspi Alexander Avraham Lustig Yonah Levin Eliyahu Mizrahi Amnon Michaeli Shaul Pinueli Moshe Avigdor Perlstein Binyamin Parsitz Baruch Pat David Sabarna David Zwebner Yaakov Kotick Yosef Kofler Tuvia Kushnir Daniel Reich Yaakov Shmueli יהי זכרם ברוך May their memories be a blessing.

Seeing Red: Kalaniot in Negev

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die…   Ecclesiastes 3

AnemoneIn Israel the wildflowers follow a pattern. After the Jewish New Year, before the winter rains the squill and Sternbergia flower, then the Steven’s Meadow saffron, the Winter crocus followed by the kalaniot (anemones), the almond trees blossoming, narcissus, iris, lupine, wild tulips, poppies and many others. The red anemone (anemone coronaria from Greek Άνεμος ‘wind’, in Hebrew kalaniot) is a perennial in the buttercup (Ranunculaceae) family.

The season for anemones is January-February and one place to find them is in the south, the Western Negev near Kibbutz Ruhama and Shukeda. In fact, seeing the anemones in bloom has become so popular that there is a festival, called Adom Darom (two Hebrew words meaning the Red South) to celebrate the spectacle. This week we drove down there for a photo shoot and though it is still a little early we found some areas covered with anemones. It was a lovely day.


Carpet of red anemones, ShukedaThese red anemones may be the most common ones seen in Israel but last year while touring up on the Golan I came across anemones in other colors under the old oak trees at Hurshat Tal.

Flowers are visual, there is color and texture, some have fragrance but the kalaniot also have a poem written by Natan Alterman in 1945, music composed by Moshe Wilensky, sung by legendary Israeli singer Shoshana (in Hebrew a rose) Damari.

The evening comes,
the sunset on the hill burns
I am dreaming and my eyes see:
To the valley a small girl descends
and it blazes with a fire of anemones.

. . .

Yes, generations come and pass without end
but each generation has an anemone in a tune.

Photo of the Week – Nahal Soreq

Early this morning we drove out of Jerusalem past Ein Karem and Sataf and followed the Soreq valley, the historical route of the train that joined Jaffa to Jerusalem. Suddenly the gauge on the car signaled that the temperature outside was 4ºC. As we looked to the right the valley was filled with mist. We pulled off the highway, parked and climbed the hill to get some elevation and take photographs.


DSC_0108DSC_0163Then we descended into the valley and mist and got some nice closeups using a macro lens.


Couldn’t find any spiders but saw their gossamer webs left behind.


We did a nice hike in Nahal Katlav, from the derelict Bar Giora/Dayr-al-Shaykh train station, and I figured that the time was right to find crocus pushing up through the earth and we did.

Sodom Apple

If you do a tour with me in the area of the Judean desert I can show you an interesting flowering plant called the Sodom Apple (Calotropis procera).

Sodom Apple flowers

The plant occurs throughout the tropical belt and is native to North Africa, Western and South Asia, and as far as Indochina and the West Indies.

Sodom AppleThe Jewish Roman  historian describes the plant “which fruits have a color as if they were fit to be eaten, but if you pluck them with your hands, they dissolve into smoke and ashes.” The “apple”, a green soft globe, is filled mostly with air and some fine fibers and seeds. The plant is also mentioned in the Mishna but though the fibers can be used as wicks, they are not permissible for use on the Sabbath. The flesh contains a toxic milky sap that is extremely bitter and contains a complex mix of chemicals, some of which are steroidal heart poisons known as “cardiac aglycones”.


Hiking the Makhtesh

Even from space Makhtesh Ramon appears as a masterpiece of the spirit of the earth.
(from Space Shuttle Columbia monument)

This week I did a very nice 13 km hike in the Har HaNegev reserve to Har Ramon, the highest mountain in the Negev at 1037 meters above sea level. After the winter rains we saw many plants blooming even though this area is a desert.


Along the way we passed a number of tumuli, piles of rocks that are ancient tombs, and a 4.6 km stone wall running between the mountains Ramon and Romem estimated to be from the Intermediate Bronze period, more than 4000 years ago. Further along the red trail we reached a lookout on the basalt hills of Karne Ramon below, where a monument has been established to the 7-person crew of the space shuttle Columbia that disintegrated on re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere in 2003. One of the crew was Israeli, Ilan Ramon, who had taken his surname from this area.

From Karne Ramon lookoutFrom there we descended in a winding path to Nahal Ramon at the bottom of the makhtesh. We then joined the green trail through the Canyon of Prisms and ascended the trail out of the makhtesh.

Canyon of Prisms

It’s hard to capture the expansiveness of this “hole” in the earth because the makhtesh is so large. The makhtesh is 40 km long, 2–10 km wide and 500 meters deep, and is shaped like an elongated heart. I took a sequence of overlapping photographs with the intention of stitching them together to try to give you an idea of the view. Click on each of these images to see it full-size.

The image below is made up of 2 photos “stitched” together.Makhtesh Panorama1This image is made up of 3 photos.Makhtesh Panorama2

This image is made up of 4 photos, a pan of 180º, overlooking Karne Ramon at the southern end of the makhtesh.Makhtesh Panorama