Springtime in Palestine is unique. The vibrant colors which paint the hills have inspired many an artist. The wildflowers for which the region is known have been highly valued throughout history and are used for cooking, decoration, medication, as well as spiritual and traditional purposes. Flowers are recognized as an essential part of Palestinian heritage, backed by rich history and symbolism.
The end of April marks the close of the rainy season in Palestine. Back in October and November, winter rains nourished the land such that a vast green carpet now stretches across the majority of the landscape. From December to March, purple, red, and white anemones bloom, as well as pink and white cyclamen. Following them come blue lupine and corn marigold.
Spring Anenomes in Palestine
Although Palestinian landscapes tend to change abruptly between geographical regions, the springtime lights up the fields, hills, and roadsides alike in a wild and dazzling display of plant life.
Taken from This Week in Palestine, issue No. 180:
“The red fields are dominated by anemones (شقائق النعمان) and overlap with poppies (الخشخاش), buttercups (برقوق- النمور), red everlastings (دم الغزال), and tulips (قرن الغزال الجبلي) - one of the rarest yet most beautiful flowers that grow in the wild. Light- to dark-pink colours are also seen - the most beautiful being cyclamen (عصا الراعي), linum (الكتان), bull mallow (خبيزة), Jerusalem sage (لسينه قدسيه), henbit deadnettle (خوذية - رأس الهر), and thyme (الزعتر الفارسي), which has aromatic and medicinal uses.
Yellow and white fields are also widespread and include yellow daisies (الاقحوان), euphorbia (أبو لبن وحلبلوب الشمس), wild mustard (خردل), field marigold (مخلب القط), the beautifully scented joss flower (النرجس الشائع), toothpickweed (خله), chamomile (البابونج), watercress (جرجير), and gundelia (العكوب).
Many of these plants are used in traditional Palestinian cuisine. Blue and purple fields, mainly in the Jenin area, are full of beautiful flowers, including bright blue lupines (البري الطرمس), sage (المريمية), cistus (اللباد), and germander (الجعدة), all of which have historical medicinal value."
Of course, springtime is not limited to flourishing flowers. Palestine’s natural woodlands harbor blossoming oaks, carobs, and pines as well. Asparagus, honeysuckle, and others join the festivities. Rockrose and thorny broom are known to turn hillsides white, yellow, and pink while tulips, anemones, cyclamen, iris, and daisies paint mesmerizing portraits upon the mountainsides. As honeysuckles creep over bushes, large plane trees like willows and tamarisks provide a comforting shade along the streams within the Jordan Valley.
Springtime in Palestine is also a magical crossroads for several hundred bird species. As a central juncture between the European, Asian, and African continents, the ideal climate, and topography of Palestine make it a superb and ever-popular migratory route. It is estimated that up to 500 million birds will migrate each spring and autumn. In fact, over 85% of the world’s stork population will fly over the greater region, a remarkable and impressive site.
This extraordinary season is yet one more reason to treasure the beauty of Palestine. Within these mountains, one may find solace in the consistency with which nature’s wonders return to the hills, year after year. For once spring breaks, it gives way to another summer of sun, festivity, and adventure.