Orchids of Israel


Dr. Sara Giladi is curator of Tropical Plantas Conservatory, at the Jerusalem Botanic Garden, where she has been working for 25 years.
She is graduated in Humanities and took many courses (including academic), in Botany and Horticulture.
   


ON: How do you start to study orchids?
SG: I entered the world of orchids through Marylin LeDoux, who was the curator in Missouri Botanic Garden, where I was an intern. She is very professional and we remained good friends.That was in 1992, when I returned to Israel I devoted myself to orchids. I started a collection in the Garden, and in 1998 the Israeli Orchid Society was founded by my initiative.

ON: Could you tell a little about your country? Which are the geographical conditions on the habitats?
SG: Israel is a tiny country with a very high number of plant species (2600), in about 20770 sq.km. Its location along the Jordan Rift on the east side and the Mediterranean Sea on the western side creates many diverse habitats.

ON: And about the climate?
SG: The precipitation goes from 10 mms in Eilat, up to 900 mms in the Galilee. The rainy season lasts only 4 months with low temperatures (-3 degrees Celsius at night, only in the high mountains. During the day it can go up to 14 degrees).The summer is hot and dry, 28- 35 degrees during the day.

ON: How many genera and species of orchids?
SG: There are 13 Genera with 30 species.

ON: Which are the most important genera?
SG: Orchis and Ophrys are most common, about 10-13 species each.

ON: Which are the endemic species?
SG: The only endemic species is Orchis israelitica.


Orchis israelitica

Orchis israelitica

ON: Terrestrial all they, aren't they?
SG: All orchids in Israel are terrestrial, well adapted to the Mediterranean climate. They are dormant during the summer, from May to November, and sprout after the rain.

ON: Which is the biggest dangered orchid in Israel?
SG: There are several orchids that are rare and endangered, but they are inconspicuous and are located in Protected Nature Reserves. The most endangered species are Orchis laxiflora and Epipactis veratrifolia, they are bigger and prettier, and are threatened by rural and urban development.

ON: What can be done for helping the conservation?
SG: Education to protect Nature and wild plants has a great impact, but unfortunately it is not efficient enough against "civilization"

ON: Do you have a kind of government help for this? Is there a preoccupation about the conservation of orchids or nature in general?
SG: There is a little help from the government to maintain the Nature Reserves.

ON: Are people concerned about conservation or preservation?
SG: Around my social circle, people are concerned about conservation, but it's very low % of the whole population.

ON: The number of orchid lover is high?
SG: Today our society has over hundred members and many more that find this hobby most fascinating but our orchids compared with yours are small, difficult to find and still almost impossible to grow. Israeli orchids are not yet grown by us, as they are not accessible and far from being showy as yours. Friend of mine sowed several native species, and hopefully they will bloom in few years.


ON: Thank you, Dr. Sara Galadi.

 

Photos by Sara Galadi

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