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Wild Cyclamens Treasure Trove

Wild Cyclamens Treasure Trove


Wild Cyclamens Treasure Trove
Wild cyclamens, (Cyclamen persicum) in Hebrew عصا الراعي  רקפת מצויה in Arabic, or Persian Cyclamen in English -  have a very peculiar scent, subtle and unnoticeable to the unsuspecting nose, but if you do make the effort to bring your nose close enough to their rocky hiding spots (they grow mostly in the crevices of rocks, where they have a nice storage of water and less chances for the wild boars to dig them up) - you will be surprised.
These pink, fluffy and symbolically shy flowers have a dark-leathery, mineral, mossy and almost tar-like (there are lichens here in creeks and forests that smell like tar hence the mossy reference).

Wild Cyclamens Treasure Trove
It is very rare to see so many of them together like in this photo - so the smell is usually very subtle and only noticeable if you bend over and press your nose to them... Finding this treasure trove of cyclamens in this pine forest, shrouded with this tarry, mineral scent - was an interesting experience to be sure.

Wild Cyclamens Treasure Trove
Wild cyclamens are a protected species, but it is allowed to pick a few leaves (up to 2) per bulb, and use them for food for personal purpose. They can be stuffed and cooked much like grapevine leaves. Something I must try soon before the leaves are all gone! The leaves have a stunning, reptile-like design, and each bulb produces leaves with its own unique and recognizable pattern. So you can easily tell if you picked enough from a bulb and allow it to grow and produce flowers and more seeds quietly and store more energy for next year.

Carmelit

Ricotia Lunaria (Carmelit) כרמלית נאה
Carmelit (Ricotia lunariaכרמלית נאה is a delicate flower from the Cruciferae (Brassicaceae) family which grows in large groups and blooms in late winter and early spring. If you look at an individual flower alone (which is rare, because it always grows in large groups), it does not stand out at all, expect for its definite crossed-bones-like shape. It is named after the Carmelite order, which was established on Mount Carmel in the 12st Century (the same order also invented the famous Carmelite Water), whose symbol of a cross with heart-shaped tips it resembles. Other English names for the flower are Maltese Cross Ricotia (whose cross it also resembles) or Egyptian Honesty.

The flower is endemic to Israel and Syria (which means it grows nowhere else by these two countries - in Israel it grows only in the north of the country). Because these plants grow together, their blossoms cover large areas creates an impressive effect like floating purple haze above the ground. Which is nothing short of magical. Another aspect which is not any less magical is their fragrance: a delicate perfume that is the epitome of wild flower fragrance, reminiscent of night-scented-stock with hints of carnations when it's sunny, and becomes almost too heady on dry and hot spring days; and becomes all delicate, demure and cold-flower-smelling at nightfall. 

Here are a few more photos, which will hopefully transfer some of their magic despite the fact that their scent is inimitable.
Ricotia Lunaria (Carmelit) כרמלית נאה

Ricotia Lunaria (Carmelit) כרמלית נאה





Wild Madonna Lily

Lily Trail Map

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.

Dramatic Arbutus

Twisted Arbutus AKA Twizzlers Tree

Signs

Signs 

White Mushroom|
White Mushroom


Keren Bartut

Keren Bartut

First Lily Spotting

"Like a lily among the thorns, So is my darling among the maidens." (Song of Songs, 2:2)

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.

Stairs and Rocks

We walked a bit more on the rocks... Climbing a set of uneven stairs.

And a bit more rocky slopes

Rocky Terrain

And then we spotted this!

Wild Treasure!

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.

Madonna Lily

"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. 

Wild Madonna Lily

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. 

Helicrysum Sanguinum

Blood helichrysum (Helichrysum Sanguinium)

Mystery Orchid
Mystery orchid: Tall and gorgeous

Wild Snapdragons & Michauxia campanuloides

Wild Snapdragons &  Michauxia campanuloides

Michauxia campanuloides

Michauxia campanuloides

Wild Snapdragon

Wild snapdragon closeup


Old Oak

Old Oak Tree


Old Varthemia

Old Vartehmia with intensely fruity-smelling leaves 


Fern & Moss

Fern & Moss


Bloody Wedding

Bloody wedding (Oak & Arbutus Trees)

Kziv Creek & Goren Park

Kziv Creek & Goren Park

Saffron Crocus

Saffron Crocus!
Finding this saffron crocus (Crocus sativus) on Mout Meron was such a delightful surprise!
I'm thrilled to report that the aroma, though unmistakable saffrony, is elusive and different. There is something about the fresh flower that doesn't translate into the dead or dried one. The breath of fresh mountain air that surrounds it. A hint of moss from a nearby oak branch. Maybe even a tiny bit of cinnamon. But most importantly - a generally flowery feeling that you don't get when encountering the spice.

The three orange columns you see at the centre of the flowers are not the stamens (which are the male flower bits that carry the pollen), but the feminine stigma, which in the saffron crocus, unlike many other dual-gender flowers, is located above the stamens, making it a more difficult flower to pollinate.

I've returned to the studio feeling inspired to create a very floral saffron fragrance. Perhaps incorporate it into my existing Tamya perfume, and then work out the autumn crocus theme by adding a hint of saffron. It would be interesting to try to "spice up" this otherwise innocent, fruity-floral fragrance. It's a very uplifting fragrance, and may be exactly the kind of floral surrounding this dusky crocus needs.
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