Israelis celebrate the end of their short winter season by trekking to see the beautiful wild flowers that appear in the deserts and forests in the early spring. Be quick or you will miss them!
The first trees to flower in the winter to signal the start of spring and the festival of Tu Bishvat is the Almond Tree. Known in Israel as Shkedia trees, the famous song that children sing on Tu Bishvat: ‘HaShkedia Porachat’ – the almond tree is blossoming. You can see them all over Israel and they are unique among fruit trees because you can see the almond fruits hanging on the tree at the same time as the new pinkish-white blossoms. Extensive orchards of almond trees grow in the forests around Jerusalem, particularly in the valley of Motza and in the Sataf KKL Park.
The Rakefet is one of Israel’s favorite flowers, and they grow all over the country. To see beautiful clusters of these delicate wild flowers, Israelis flock to Cyclamen Hill (Giv‘at HaRakafot) near Kibbutz Galed between January and March.
The blooming of the first bright red flowers in the Northern Negev desert is celebrated every February during the Scarlet South Festival in the Reim Recreation Area and the Ruhama Forest. KKL-JNF organizes weekend festival events including flower walks, agricultural fairs, and an annual Anemone Walk in memory of Shoshana Damari, who sang the famous Israeli song about these flowers: ‘Kalaniot’.
Givat HaTurmusin, or Lupin Hill, and is located near Emek HaElah near Bet Shemesh. For one month every year – usually February-March – this steep mountain is covered with beautiful purple flowers and the hundreds of Israelis who trek to enjoy them and take photos with them! This is the area where David fought and defeated Goliath, and it’s a great opportunity to get out into nature, blow away the winter cobwebs and enjoy the lush green landscape.
If you love daffodils and their cousins the Narcissus, there is a field north of Tel Aviv near the Glilot Junction which bursts into flower in February. It is known as Emek HaNarkisim – the Valley of Narcissus Flowers – and it is a great place to explore all year round to see daisies and other wild flowers.
Protecting Wild Flowers
Israelis have always enjoyed walking in nature and they used to pick the wildflowers quite freely. In the 1960s the Society for the Protection of Nature started a campaign to protect Israel’s diminishing wild flower species. Their slogan “Go out into the nature but don’t pick the flowers” was influential in educating the Israeli population about the importance of protecting their country’s fragile ecology as its population increased.
Rare Iris Flowers
The symbol of Israel’s Society for the Protection of Nature (shown above) is the Gilboa Orchid – a stunning purple flower that is found only on Mount Gilboa in the Bet Shean Valley. It is a carefully protected species that blooms in March and April. Another protected iris is the Negev Iris that grows only in the KKL-JNF’s Duda’im Forest near Beersheva.
If you enjoy nature walks and discovering unusual flower species, talk to the experts at Shatour Israel and we can build some flower walks into your Israel trip itinerary.