Rains bring stunning floral displays to parched Dead Sea area
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Photo essay

Rains bring stunning floral displays to parched Dead Sea area

Shores between Kalya and Ovnat are alive with wildflowers

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

  • Wildflowers at the Dead Sea. (Avner Rinot, Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel)
    Wildflowers at the Dead Sea. (Avner Rinot, Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel)
  • Wildflowers at the Dead Sea. (Avner Rinot, Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel)
    Wildflowers at the Dead Sea. (Avner Rinot, Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel)
  • Wildflowers at the Dead Sea. (Avner Rinot, Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel)
    Wildflowers at the Dead Sea. (Avner Rinot, Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel)
  • Wildflowers at the Dead Sea. (Avner Rinot, Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel)
    Wildflowers at the Dead Sea. (Avner Rinot, Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel)
  • Wildflowers at the Dead Sea. (Avner Rinot, Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel)
    Wildflowers at the Dead Sea. (Avner Rinot, Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel)
  • Wildflowers at the Dead Sea. (Avner Rinot, Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel)
    Wildflowers at the Dead Sea. (Avner Rinot, Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel)
  • Wildflowers at the Dead Sea. (Avner Rinot, Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel)
    Wildflowers at the Dead Sea. (Avner Rinot, Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel)

Thanks to a long period of rain this winter, the shores along the northern Dead Sea have burst into carpets of color.

The seven kilometer (four mile) stretch between Kibbutz Kalya and Ovnat is rife with fields of annual species whose seeds can lay dormant in the desert for years until there is enough water for them to germinate.

These include swaths of Rainbow Toadflax, which comes in mauve, yellow or white, with orange dots’ pink-leaved rumex; yellow Faktorowsky’s Aaronsonia; and white mignonette. Poppies abound, too.

Faktorowsky’s Aaronsonia is named after botanist and agronomist Aaron Aaronsohn, who is best known for having discovered one of the wild ancestors of wheat — Triticum dicoccum, otherwise known as spelt wheat — in 1906, in what was then Ottoman Palestine.

Rumex pictus is edible but only in very small quantities. It contains a chemical, apparently evolved to deter herbivores, which gives it a tangy taste but which, when consumed in large quantities, can damage the liver and blood vessels.

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