Quercus calliprinos woodlands; Montane forest of Mt. Hermon

Published: January 10th, 2010 | Updated: 25/12/19

1.3.2 [Quercus calliprinos] woodlands on basalt

These differ from woodlands on Terra Rossa in their rich herbaceous vegetation and the absence of semi-shrub communities from the early successional stages after destruction and abandonment (Figs. 1.3.15, 1.3.16). Remnants of this community are found in the northern Golan and in the northeastern Galilee. The gentle, north-facing slope of the ancient volcanic cone of Har Odem on the Golan, near Mas’ada, at an elevation of 900-1,000 m., is covered by a dense maquis of [“Quercus calliprinos” Q. calliprinos]. It is accompanied by [“Quercus boissieri” Q. boissieri], [Crataegus monogyna], [“Crataegus aronia” C. aronia], and [Prunus ursina]. Among the trees, the rich ephemeral vegetation includes some 20 species of Trifolium. The prevalence of herbaceous plants may be due to the soil, which is rich in available phosphorous (Rabinovitch, 1981). During the winter, when [“Quercus boissieri” Q. boissieri] and its Rosaceae companion trees shed their leaves, the floor of the dense woodland (Fig. 1.3.17) gets more light and reveals carpets of [Cyclamen coum] (Figs. 1.3.18, 1.3.19), which sprout and bloom from the beginning of winter. In areas where the woodlands were cut down long ago, [Veronica syriaca] typically appears at the start of winter (Fig. 1.3.20).

Fig. 1.3.15: Slopes of volcanic ash facing north on Mt. Bental, Golan. Maquis dominated by Quercus calliprinos accompanied by rich herbaceous vegetation with grasses and blooming Vicia tenuifolia.

Fig. 1.3.16: Rich herbaceous vegetation on basalt-derived soil, Golan. Following the long-ago destruction of the maquis, carpets of Ochtodium aegyptiacum flourish.

Fig. 1.3.17: Maquis of the evergreen Quercus calliprinos accompanied by winter-deciduous trees. In winter higher amount of solar radiation reach the woodland floor and assist seasonal vegetation there.

Fig. 1.3.18: Floor of Odem woodland, Golan. Prevailed by Quercus calliprinos and Quercus boissieri and has a layer of Cyclamen coum at the beginning of einter.

Fig. 1.3.19: At the shade of Odem woodland, emerging Cyclamen coum blooms among a layer of dry Quercus boissieri leaves.

Fig. 1.3.20: Herbaceous vegetation on basalt-derived soil at the Golan after maquis destruction; carpets of Veronica syriaca bloom in early winter days.

1.3.3 Montane forest of Mt. Hermon

The montane forest stretches from altitudes of 1,300 to 1,700 m. (Figs. 1.3.21-1.3.24). Its lower boundary is Mediterranean maquis dominated by [Quercus calliprinos]; its upper boundary (known also as the timberline) is in the transitional area to the “tragacanth vegetation” (cf. section 3.9 to come). The dominant vegetation of the montane forest is deciduous trees such as [Quercus boissieri], [“Quercus libani” Q. libani], [Acer monspessulanum] (Fig. 1.3.22), and several species of [Crataegus], [Amygdalus], and [Prunus] (Fig. 1.3.23). Their companions are mainly perennial and annual grasses, other herbaceous plants, and shrubs or semi-shrubs that fail to grow in lower elevations, such as species of [Astragalus] (Fig. 1.3.23). This category is not represented in Jordan because there are no mountains of this elevation in the northern part of the country; the south does have similarly high mountains but since they have a drier climate, they lack woodlands of this sort. However, a few shrubs common in Mt. Hermon also occur in the crevices of smooth-faced rocks of southern Sinai and in southwest Jordan (cf. section 3.9).

Fig. 1.3.21: A general view of Mt. Hermon from Margaliot. Vegetation units as seen from afar: 1. pseudo-savannah of Ziziphus spina-christy and Z. lotus with herbaceous plants 2. Maquis dominated by Quercus calliprinos 3. Montane forest of Quercus boissieri and Quercus look 4. Tragacanth vegetation. N – Neve Ativ, Q – Qala’at Namrud. (photo by Amnon Trenchiner).

Fig. 1.3.22: Montane forest at the Hermon slopes, alt. 1300-1500 m. Most trees are winter-deciduous. A large patch of Spartium junceum blooms in this area. Annual grasses and spiny Asteraceae at the front area.

Fig. 1.3.23: Montane forest at 1500 m with Prunus ursina on the slope accompanied by Astragalus shrubs and plenty of annuals.

Fig. 1.3.24: Young Prunus ursina leaves and stems reddish. There is an opinion that this reddening is related to an anti-browsing adaptation of shrubby arboreal trees.

Fig. 1.3.25: Montane forest dominated by Quercus boissieri, Quercus look and several Rosaceae – all winter-deciduous trees. Above the lower cable car station alt. 1700 m.

Fig. 1.3.26: The “timberline” (upper boundary of the trees) as seen from the montane forest towards the tragacanth landscape above it.