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BULBS OF GALILEE & THE NEGEV 2023 – run by Greentours for the AGS

The Eastern Mediterranean flora reaches a special richness in Israel, with no less than 2800 species of flowering plant in what is a very small country. At the junction between Mediterranean, African and European biomes, Israel has an unusual range of climate from pure deserts to mountains topped by snow in the winter. For more information click here.
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In short, perfect conditions for bulbous species to proliferate and they have, with more than two hundred species. As well as many species of Ornithogalum, Scilla, Leopoldias and the like there are no less than seven species of Bellevalia. We can find fabulous-shows of Tulipa agenensis blooming on rocks just metres from the Mediterranean’s waters. On magical Mount Hermon are clumps of elegant green and purple Fritillaria hermonis and richly-hued forms of Hyacinthus orientalis. There are some gorgeous Irises; white-topped Iris hermona and the simply stunning Iris lortetii. Israel has no less than eight species of Oncocyclus Irises, these with perhaps the most spectacular blooms in this family. On Mount Gilboa we’ll find the impressive dark purple-pink flowers of Iris haynei and near Nazareth the wonderful Iris bismarckiana, the white, purple-lined standards lighting up the slopes. There are other irises too such as the unusual yellow Iris grant-dufii, the lovely bluish-white juno Iris regis-uzziae, and the delicate Iris histrio.

Everywhere we go the names resonate through the ages, from Nazareth and Judea to Upper Galilee, and indeed the Jordan Valley where we’ll visit the Dead Sea en route to the desert environments of the Negev. Many of Israel’s finest bulbs can be found in this unpromising looking terrain as well as Nubian Ibex and some great birds including Little Green Bee-eater, Lanner Falcon and various Sandgrouse. Along roadsides are the tall yellow-flowered spikes of Fritillaria persica and we’ll also find Gladiolus atroviolaceus and strange Dipcadi erythraeum. Bizarre Eminium spiculatum is easy to miss in the sands, but not the tomato-red Tulipa systola shining boldly in the bright sun, nor Moraea mediterranea whose tiny iris flowers bloom for only four early-afternoon hours each day. Here are three more stunning Oncocyclus Irises, the bright clear purple Iris mariae and two almost black species, the well-named Iris atrofusca, and the recently-described Iris hieruchamensis, together putting on an unforgettable show.