True Romance: Made By Nature

Anemones. Photo Iris Arbel

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:

 

Coastal Iris. Photo Amir Balaban(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

Main locations:

  • 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

 


Blue lupines. Photo David Idan(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

Main locations:

  • North: Lower Galilee and Ramot-Menashe area
  • Center: Ela valley


Almond tree blossom. Photo Tali Kedmi(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

Main locations:

  • 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.