May 2016

What determines the timing and intensity of the germination and flowering of seasonal plants in the extreme arid desert?

Benny Shalmon – previously the ecologist of the Eilat district in the Israel  Nature and Parks Authority.

Keywords: Opophtum foradahili, Eilat, Southern Negev, annuals, Plantago ovata, southern exposure, northern exposure, Pulicaria incisa, Blepharis attenuata, Ochradenus baccatus

The rainy season of 2015/16 in the extreme desert in the Eilat area was characterized by strong rains and floodings in the autumn, which caused a rapid germination and the covering of the desert with carpets of flowers within around three months. An additional wave of rain at the end of March did not lead to a new germination, but caused a renewed lush growth and flowering among the plants that had germinated in autumn, and had flowered in the course of the winter. Observations over more than 40 years point to the fact that lush flowering in the extreme desert is dictated by germination following significant autumn rains, while winter and spring rains have little to no effect on germination and the intensity of the flowering.

Full Hebrew version

Early Star-of-Bethlehem – an extremely rare geophyte – was found again in Israel after 55 years

Shmuel Mazar, the Jewish National Fund.
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.

Keywords: Golan Heights, Gagea chlorantha, endangered species, Liliaceae, nature conservation

The Early Star-of-Bethlehem (Gagea bohemica) was found in the Odem forest in the northern Golan Heights after it had totally disappeared from Israel since the early 1970s.  This is a small geophyte that blooms in February, which has a perianth shaped like a beautiful hexagonal yellow star. The species is a northern one, this site is its southern most station in the world, and it is in danger of extinction in Israel.  So far only a minute number of sites have been fond where it grows – the mountainous Hermon, and the northern Golan Heights. Apparently the item found in the Valley of the Cross in Jerusalem 75 years ago was a mistaken definition of the Damascus Gagea (or Green-flowered Gagea – Gagea chlorantha), which closely resembles the Early Star-of-Bethlehem (Gagea bohemica).

Full Hebrew version

Summary of the Kalanit study tour in the northern Golan heights, 18 & 19 May, 2016.

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: Pteridium aquilinum, Pinus pinea, basalt, Vicia basaltica, Ram pool, Mount Kramim, annuals, Mediterranean maquis, mountainous, deciduous, transition forest,  Fumaria officinalis subsp. cilicica, spring flowering, Golan Heights vegetation, Mediterranean vegetation, Anthemis cotula

2015/2016  was a season with a "peculiar" rain distribution.  It was an especially bountiful year in the southern coastal Plain and the western Negev, an exceptionally rainy season in the Eilat and distant Negev, compared to a real drought in the Sea of Galilee basin, the eastern Galilee, and most of the Golan heights. In the northern Golan heights the season was bountiful, evidence to which can be found in the tall carpets of grains, and the surfaces of clovers in the Odem forest clearings. Indirect and overwhelming evidence are the glorious purple flames of the Bramble Vetch (Vicia tenuifolia) which taint the northern slopes of the mounds of the northern Golan Heights – Mount Shiphon, Mount Bental, Mount Avital, Mount Kramim, Mount Baron, and others.

Full Hebrew version

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