November 2015

Criteria for defining invasive plants in Israel, and risk assessment

Oded Cohen, the Kinneret Academic College, the Golan Research Institute – Katzrin,  Haifa University, 
Yossi Riov, The Robert H. Smith Institute of Plant Sciences and Genetics in Agriculture, The Hebrew University in Jerusaltm, Rehovot

Keywords: risk assessment, alien species, eruptive species, biological invasion, invasive species

Over the years various definitions have been proposed for the term 'invasive species'. The various definitions included a number of criteria, including destructive effects on the environment.  In Israel it is customary to use the term 'invasive species' to describe alien species, that have any sort of destructive effect on the environment.  In this article we propose the use of the term 'invasive species' to define alien species that spread at a fast rate in a continuous territory, or in a large number of foci, and create a dense population in each focus. This definition does not include the effect of the invasive plant on the environment as a criterion for defining it as invasive. A distinction has been made between criteria for defining invasive plants on the one hand, and criteria for assessing their risk, on the other hand, from which one may derive priorities to contend with them. The ability to penetrate natural territories, the negative effect on the natural species, the ability to change the environment, and the ability to create dense populations, constitute criteria for risk assessment, to which we propose to add also the potential of global distribution of the invading species, and the climatic-ecological resemblance between the new environment and the original environment, and other invaded environments in the world.

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Populations of the Large Sternbergia in the Jerusalem mountains: the Ktalav Wadi and Sansan Ruin

Yoav Ramon, nature lover and hiker, Zur Hadasah,

Keywords:  geophytes, Mediterranean maquis, harbingers of rain, autumn bloomers, efflorescence, sites of botanical interest, seasonal plants

The Large Sternbergia (Sternbergia clusiana) grows in sites that are to be found especial in the transition belt, and only occasionally does it penetrate the Mediterranean region, and grow west of the national watershed. In this article two main sites in the central mountain ridge (Samaria and Judea) are described, where the Sternbergia grows in the midst of the Mediterranean maquis, on the western slopes of the Judean mountains – the Ktalav Wadi and the Sansan Mountain.

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Summary of the Kalanit study tour to the Carmel and Lower Galilee 18 & 19.11.2015

Avi Shmida, the Department of Evolution, Systematics and Behavior, and the Federmann Center for the Study of Rationality at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Givat Ram.
Gadi Pollak, Kalanit editorial,

Keywords: Biarum, Iris vartanii, Ceratonia, Muscari, Narcissus, Colchicum, winter bloomers, autumn bloomers, Dianthus pendulus, Cyclamen, sites of botanical interest, blooming, pollination

November represents the end of the autumn season, and announces the beginning of the cold and blessed rains of the winter season. Usually in this month the Mediterranean region is visited by at least one "serious" rain of over 10 mm, which causes a general germination of the annual flora, and the slopes are covered with a green down. This is the flowering peak of the  First-rain Colchicum (Colchicum stevenii), and the beginning of the flowering of the Winter Crocus (Crocus hyemalis). Due to the bountiful rains that fell this year, especially in the Coastal Plain and its vicinity, and less in the Galilee, the study tour focused on the autumn blooming on the Carmel and its coastal line.

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The Wild Rue: chemistry, medicinal uses, and biological action mechanisms of the typical chemicals

Tzvia Shapira, Botanist specializing in the chemistry of medicinal plants

Keywords: alkaloids, ethnobotany, ethnopharmacology, chemical defense, Nitrariaceae, secondary metabolites, plants of Israel, deserts, useful plants, medicinal plants.

The Wild Rue (Peganum harmala) is known in popular-traditional medicine as a plant with magic effects, and as suitable for healing. The article summarizes updated knowledge regarding the chemistry and medicinal activity of parts of the plant, and especially its fruit and seeds, which were studied in several laboratories in-vivo and in-vitro  experiments, which proved activity that is antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, efficient antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, pregnancy preventive, abortion causing, and effective for treating various types of cancer.

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