True Romance: Made By Nature
By Omer Shapira, Gil Efrat and Aya Tager
During the month of February, stores stock up on roses and chocolates for the celebration of Valentine's Day. Though cliché, this practice continues unabated. But SPNI believes that there is a better, more meaningful and more natural alternative: spending time outdoors surrounded by the marvelous wildflowers of the season to relax, refresh and reconnect with the people you love.
Here is a list of the species currently in bloom, with the locations across Israel where one is most likely to spot them:
(1) Coastal Iris or Dark-purple Iris [in Hebrew Irus Ha'argaman] is an endemic species native to the sandy hills of the coastal plain area, and our favorite on this list. In years past, it occupied many open areas between Atlit in the north and Gedera in the south, but due to decades of construction and urbanization only a few habitats remain, mostly in the Sharon region.
The striking purple color is a dominant feature of this species, though varieties include pink, red and even black, and a yellow mutation (missing its red pigment) can also be spotted.
Peak blossom period: Mid-February
- Iris Nature Reserve, Netanya
- Western Poleg Nature Reserve (next to Wingate academy)
- Sharon Beach National Park
- Ilanot Forest area
- Ness-Ziona limestone hills
- Chomra hill, located between Rishon-Le'Zion and Palmachim
(2) Blue Lupine [in Hebrew Turmus He'Harim] is one of the prominent wildflowers blooming at the end of winter and beginning of spring and is common in the Lower Galilee, Shfela hills and Ramot-Menashe areas. The blue lupine covers a vast area in a dense and spectacular blue blossom, attracting many travelers to the point of creating traffic jams.
Much like other species of the legume family, such as green peas, chickpeas and broad beans, the blue lupine has pods containing seeds rich in protein – about 45% of the weight of the dry seed. There is evidence of lupine foraging dating back 10,000 years and of cultured lupine from 5,000 years ago – though modern man should avoid picking it to ensure its longevity.
Peak blossom period: Mid-February to mid-March
- North: Lower Galilee and Ramot-Menashe area
- Center: Ela valley
(3) The blossoming Almond tree [in Hebrew Sha'ked] became a symbol of Tu B'shvat (the Jewish New Year for the trees), as it flowering signals the awakening of Israeli nature, fresh growth and abundant colorful flowers. When in full bloom, surrounded by lush green fields, the tree resembles a huge, fragrant bouquet.
Peak blossom period: January to March
- North: Tavor Creek
- Center: Britain Park, Itri ruin, Tzafit hill
- South: Orchards along the road from Kiryat-Gat to Lachish
Additional wildflowers and their locations:
Anemone [in Hebrew Calanit] – Pura Reserve, and Shokeda Forest.
Gilboa Iris AKA Iris haynei [in Hebrew Irus Ha'Gilboa] – Gilboa Mountain, specifically Malkishua Ridge (mostly during March)
Sun's-eye Tulip and Sharon Tulip [in Hebrew Tzivoni He'Harim, and Tzivoni Ha'Sharon] – Habonin Beach Nature Reserve, Kadima Forest, and Har-Hanegev Nature Reserve
Cyclamen [in Hebrew Rakefet ] – Many locations across the country, dense carpets can be spotted near Tal-Shahar and in the Ramot-Menshe area
Orchid [in Hebrew Sachlav] – Carmel and Galilee areas (mostly during March),Tal Grove National Park, along the trail ascending to Atzmon Mountain and the dirt road along Dishon Stream.