Thought to have disappeared from Israel, the Galilee fumitory was last seen in the 1940s.
By Zafrir Rinat

An extremely rare flower was found for the first time in over 60 years in the Hanita Forest, near the Lebanese border. The Galilee fumitory (Fumaria thuretii Boiss ) was seen only once before in Israel, in the 1940s, by a botanist who died in the 1948 War of Independence.

It was rediscovered during a tour by botanists and workers at the Pirhei Hagalil apiary, including Noga and Rafi Reuven. The Galilee Fumitory, as it is known in Israel, is an annual.

“The previous time it was found near Kibbutz Eilon by Tuvia Kushnir, one of the great hopes of botany research in Israel, who fell in the battle of the Convoy of the Lamed Hey,” said Prof. Avi Shmida of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who participated in the tour. It has never been found since, despite many attempts by botanists over the years, said Shmida.

The Galilee fumitory is so rare that most guides to flowers do not describe it accurately, if at all, and no picture of the flower exists. “We found about 80 individuals that stood out because of their bright pink blossoms. After a thorough examination we confirmed that it really was the Galilee fumitory,” said Shmida. “This is the only known site in Israel for this flower and therefore it is very important to protect it,” he added.

The flower grows in some southern European and other Mediterranean countries. The Upper Galilee marks the southern border of its habitat.

“Until now we thought the plant was seen here by chance and is not found here permanently, said Shmida. “After we found it again, we hurriedly sent a recommendation to the Israel Nature and Parks Authority to include it in the list of ‘red plants’ [under the threat of extinction] and take action to protect it,” he added.

The violet-colored blooms have an elongated, round bulge on the underside that collects large amounts of nectar and attracts wild bees, which disperse the pollen necessary for the flower’s reproduction.