Beit Shemesh Hike

On the 18th of February, Shemer, Kady, Abby and I went for another hike to look at wild Flora. First, we visited a hill near Beit Shemesh. The area in question is renowned for its display of Lupinus pilosus, though we were a touch early and only a few were in flower. 
The Sinapis alba, however, was in full bloom. S. alba is a common wildflower across most of northern Israel. The plant is 25-100cm high and covered in yellow crucifer flowers. En mass they look pretty incredible, and the display with be even more vivid when the Lupinus pilosus fire up next week.

Scrambling among the shrubbery in this area are large specimens of Clematis cirrhosa. The blooms illuminate the hosts they cover, creating creamy mounds on the green landscape. A number of C. cirrhosa varieties are available commercially including the well known ‘Wisley Cream,’ so seeing the true wild form is rather moving.

Last week I talked about Senecio vernalis, the delicate yellow ground cover. Well I encountered it again but this time with Silene aegypiaca, creating a vivid combination of pink and yellow. Silene aegypiaca is a 10-40cm annual in the Caryophyllaceae family. This species has a distinctive split in the lobes of each petal which is very attractive. 


Another brilliant pink flower we keep running into is Fumaria densiflora. It takes its name from the Latin phrase fumus terrae which means “smoke of the earth.” This is a reference to multiple smoke scented species in the genus. F. densiflora is a 10-25cm tall annual in the Pavaraceae family. Its pink inflorescence has two tone flowers which turn to a dark purple/pink combination with maturity. Common throughout Israel especially in batha and garigue.

A more common Fumaria species around Jerusalem is Fumaria capreolata. It is a much larger plant that can grow up to 100cm tall, with white and pink flowers. For me, F. capreolata does not have the elegance of F. densiflora, but it’s still a pretty plant to see around, especially as it has a habit of colonising desolate urban areas.

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