We went on a floral pilgrimage today, hiking the lovely slopes above Kziv Creek, hunting for non other than the Wild Madonna Lily!
Clarification: The lily is wild, the Madonna is not.
Twisted Arbutus AKA Twizzlers Tree
The first lily appeared to me after we passed Keren Bartut (the edge of the cliff), almost by change, towering over my head and half eaten by some bugs. I had to climb up a rock to be able to smell it not being very hopeful and pleasantly surprised not only by the scent (which I will talk about in a moment), but also because it had a friend hiding in the bush next to it. I was so worried that we passed many more on the rocks. But decided to walk on because surely, with my eyes for flowers i would have noticed what I was searching for if it was there. Sometimes you just have to trust yourself this way and not walk back a difficult trail because of self-doubt.
We walked a bit more on the rocks... Climbing a set of uneven stairs.
And a bit more rocky slopes
And then we spotted this!
A whole colony of Madonna Lilies (Lilium candidum), in plain sight!
A rather large colony, actually, with more lilies hiding between the trees and the bushes just at the edge of the cliff, and beyond it on the steep slopes of the cliff itself... Overlooking the wadi and staring stoically into the horizon.
"What is this coming up from the wilderness Like columns of smoke, Perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, With all scented powders of the merchant?" (Song of Songs 3:6)
Although the cultivated plant is popular and widespread, these wild lilies are extremely rare. They grow only on very rocky slopes bordering the Mediterranean forests in Turkey, Lebanon and Israel. In Israel it is found in only three locations. The smell is completely, totally different than what you'd expect from something with the same name.
Rather than the heady lily scent so strongly associated with Easer and funerals, the wild lilies smell candy-like and very much like champaca flowers! There is sweetness and spiciness to it, very honeyed, full-bodied and with just a tiny bit of orange blossom and green, spicy yet cool bay leaf quality.
This aromatic hiking expedition was partly a known trail to me, from previous visits to the beautiful Kziv creek; and partly a new one. It seemed shorter on the map and ended up feeling like a long way to find the lilies. The terrain was a bit adventurous too, very rocky and with lots of ups and downs that are very much like life's unpredicted path. But it totally paid off, because along it I found much more than I expected. Here are some photos of other beautiful flowers that are quite rare and bloom at the exact same time as these beautiful lilies.
Blood helichrysum (Helichrysum Sanguinium)
Mystery orchid: Tall and gorgeous