Ziziphus lotus with Herbaceous Vegetation; Mediterranean savannoid vegetation

Published: February 7th, 2010 | Updated: 25/12/19

1.3.6 Ziziphus lotus with herbaceous vegetation

Grasslands of wild wheat, barley, and oats cover the relatively warm, dry area of basalt hills in the southeastern Galilee and the slopes around the Sea of Galilee down to the Samarian desert. A similar formation covers the west-facing slopes of the Gilead below the Tabor oak belt. In drier and warmer sites, Stipa capensis becomes the dominant plant. In fact, in the same site one may find Stipa capensis dominating in relatively dry years, and Avena sterilis in relatively moist years. However, a better indicator of such conditions is the lignified and spiny shrub, Ziziphus lotus, which spreads as green patches all over the area (Fig. 1.3.38). This category appears as a mosaic with that of category 3.7 in the steep topography in the vicinity of the rift valley, from north of Jericho to north of the Sea of Galilee.

Fig. 1.3.38: Ziziphus lotus accompanied by herbaceous Mediterranean vegetation at the slopes below Kokhav HaYarden (Qaucab el Hawa) towards Beit Shean Valley. Scattered trees of Ziziphus spina-christi are seen in dry water courses.

1.3.7 Mediterranean savannoid vegetation

Ziziphus spina-christi, a low spiny tree with edible fruits, is the principal component in grasslands of annuals with large seeds such as wild wheat, barley, and oats (Fig. 1.3.39). These develop on warm, stony-rocky slopes of the Galilee, Golan, Gilead and Samaria, descending to the Rift Valley at sea level and below it. Ziziphus spina-christi may shed its leaves under environmental stresses of several sorts. In warm, dry parts of the country, its leaves may fall during dry seasons and sprout again after rainfall. In colder parts of the country, such as the Golan slopes (Fig. 1.3.40), it is deciduous in winter. Z. spina-christi dominates in true savannas in Africa, where its companions are Sudanian perennial grasses, hence the vegetation here is called “savannoid.” Established stands of this tree can also be seen along the transversal valleys on heavy soils and along the Sharon Plain, where it grows on sandy-loamy soils together with the grass Desmostachya bipinnata.

Fig. 1.3.39: Ziziphus spina-christi in a pseudo-savannah on the slopes of the Golan towards the Kinnereth near Almagor; accompanied in summer by Echinops adenocaulos and plenty of dried annuals.

Fig. 1.3.40: Ziziphus spina-christi in a pseudo-savannah on the slopes of the Golan towards Bnot-Yaacov Bridge in winter. The annual grasses germinated and grow, whereas the Ziziphus trees shed their leaves influenced by the cold weather.

Fig. 1.3.41: Ziziphus spina-christi in a pseudo-savannah at the slopes of the Galilee towards the Kinnereth near Karey Deshe.