What’s in Bloom...

… in February

By: | Review date: 01-02-2019

Though I first began hiking in Palestine with Shatha Walking Group 12 or 13 years ago, I only really became seriously interested in Palestinian wildflowers when I saw the artwork of botanic illustrator Lois Nakhleh hanging on the walls of the PR office director at Birzeit University. It was love at first sight. In my effort to get copies of her prints, a mutual friend connected us. From the moment we met, I have continued to observe, photograph, study, write about, and love, above all, love Palestine’s small but mighty wildflowers.

Field Marigold

Palestine boasts five different climatic regions, giving life to well over 2,500 species of wildflowers across historic Palestine. The wildflowers featured here are those found in and around Mashjar Juthour, an arboretum and garden located at the edge of Ramallah. Many of these wildflowers will also be in bloom in the Galilee, in the hills around Rameh, for example; though you will find very few of them in Jericho, nearer to Ramallah.
This list is not exhaustive; it’s based on what we at Mashjar Juthour observed blooming last February. Some flowers, such as common cyclamen, were blooming early, in December 2017 and January 2018; this January, very few are in bloom. Perhaps other wildflowers will also bloom a bit later since it’s been colder and wetter this year.
Our wildflowers, and all the biodiversity in Palestine’s beautiful nature, is sacred. They are part of ecosystems in which the individual flowers, insects, soil, rocks, animals, and trees interact, feeding off one another, pollinating, shading, and enabling life together. I am deeply committed to learning about and protecting these flowers through my work at Mashjar Juthour. It is my great goal that others join me in this work, which starts with our learning about the flowers, naming them, and remembering stories from grandmothers and the way our Palestinian ancestors valued the plants.
These are some of the flowers you’ll find in bloom this month in Palestine.

Mandragora autumnalis Mandrake تفاح المجنون، جربوح
Mandragora autumnalis
Mandrake
تفاح المجنون، جربوح
Cyclamen persicum Common Cyclamen ذعمطوط، صابون أو عصا الراعي
Cyclamen persicum
Common Cyclamen
ذعمطوط، صابون أو عصا الراعي
Euphorbia hierosolymitana Jerusalem Spurge حلببون، حلبلوب المقدس
Euphorbia hierosolymitana
Jerusalem Spurge
حلببون، حلبلوب المقدس
Virgin’s Bower/Clematis
Virgin’s Bower/Clematis
Anemone coronaria Crown Anemone شقائق النعمان
Anemone coronaria
Crown Anemone
شقائق النعمان
Ophrys fusca Brown Bee Orchid الأوفريس
Ophrys fusca
Brown Bee Orchid
الأوفريس
Bellis sylvestris Southern Daisy
Bellis sylvestris
Southern Daisy
Arisarum vulgare Friar’s Cowl الصرين الشائع
Arisarum vulgare
Friar’s Cowl
الصرين الشائع

 

Morgan Cooper is an urban farmer, lacto-fermenter, and designer (she is founder of Little Olea for babies and Handmade Palestine market). She left academia in 2010 to “get her hands dirty,” building an arboretum with her husband and running Café La Vie in Ramallah. Currently, she’s working on an aquaponics “wall” in the café garden that will provide more organic vegetables for the café kitchen. She lives with her husband Saleh Totah in his native Ramallah. They have one wild child who loves to eat freshly picked carrots with a bit of healthy soil in the cracks.