Tel Goded; Lehavim

Published: January 28th, 2013 | Updated: 14/01/15

2. Tel Goded (precipitation 400 mm)

In the spring, the visitor to the Shefela, some 3 km NE of Bet Govrin, near Tel Goded, arrives at groups of private cars parked on the western side of highway No. 38. As we go south, it is worth observing here, from the botanical point of view, the decreasing number of maquis components. Most of the area of the Ceratonia-[Pistacia lentiscus] here has been taken over by [Rhamnus lycioides] (Fig.9.1.5). This Rhamnus is deciduous in winter in most of the country. However, shrubs situated in relatively moist microhabitats may produce new leaves and flowers at the beginning of spring even before they have shed the older leaves. The area between the shrubs is populated with a wealth of annual plants (Figs. 9.1.6, 9.1.7) that display varying prominence from season to season and from place to place. The Rhamnus shrubs are protected from over-grazing by their thorny stems. The stem in Fig. 1608, left, developed in the spring of last year.

When summer approached, its elongation ceased and a hard thorn formed at its tip. At the beginning of this spring the buds started to sprout, bearing leaves and flowers (Fig, 9.1.8, center). Some of the buds will become stems, which will terminate in a thorn during the summer (Fig. 9.1.8, right). The R. lycioides wood is very hard and according to what I heard from Arab farmers, the wood was used to make the “plow-knife” and pestle and mortar. R. lycioides has an important role among the thorns related to the “Crown of Thorns”. The young age of the thorn of Fig. 9.1.8, right, is indicated by the hair covering the entire stem. During next summer and winter the hairs will fall off.

Fig.9.1.5: Rhamnus lycioides association near Tel Goded

Fig.9.1.6: Rhamnus lycioides with no leaves, at the beginning of spring

Fig.9.1.7: A close up of the herbaceous plants among the Rhamnus lycioides shrubs

Fig.9.1.8: 1. A thorn of Rhamnus lycioides with sprouting buds, 2. Lateral branches at the beginning of spring. They will become thorns towards the summer, 3. A lateral branch that hardened into a thorn; hairy when young

2.1 Along the road from Bet Govrin to Kiryat Gat

Along the way from Bet Govrin south-westward, the highway traverses areas where the number of R. lycioides shrubs decreases and they become prominent over the background of bathas of [Sarcopoterium spinosum]. Its companions are mostly typical Mediterranean plants. Toward the south, plants typical of the semi-steppe bathas are added. Solitary trees of Ziziphus spina-christi occur in valleys with fertile soil.

3. Semi-steppe bathas near Lehavim (precipitation 300 mm)

South-east of Kiryat Gat the gradual reduction in precipitation is seen through the development of [Sarcopoterium spinosum] bathas (Figs. 9.1.9-9.1.11) accompanied by typical local plants. [Asphodelus ramosus] (Fig. 9.1.10) abounds here and indicates over-grazing and cutting of lignified plants before this area was declared a nature reserve. [Phlomis brachyodon] (Fig. 9.1.12) is endemic to Israel and Jordan and confined to semi-steppe bathas (a relict population that exists among rocks in the [localvegb11 Rahama mountains]).
[Noaea mucronata] (Figs. 9.1.13, 9.1.14) is a semi shrub typical to the shrub-steppes and penetrates up to the margins of the Mediterranean territory. The plant passes the winter drying up the stems that carried flowers and fruits on the short branches (Fig. 9.1.13, left). It blooms in summer, and ripe fruits accompanied by wings develop on thorny stems with minute leaves (Fig. 9.1.13, right). When a rainy winter comes, several buds produce stems with long leaves, 2-5 times longer than the summer leaves (Fig. 9.1.14). The nature reserve of Lehavim is well known for its local dense population of the Autumn-blooming [Sternbergia clusiana]. Their leaves are twisted in a rather unique way (Fig. 9.1.15).

Fig.9.1.9: Semi-steppe batha of Sarcopoterium spinosum with Phlomis brachyodon near Lehavim

Fig.9.1.10: Semi-steppe batha with many individuals of Asphodelus ramosus which develop successfully following a long period of cutting and overgrazing of other plants

Fig.9.1.11: Sarcopoterium spinosum with young fruits

Fig.9.1.12: Phlomis brachyodon – one of the plants most typical of semi-steppe bathas in Eretz Israel

Fig.9.1.13: 1. Noaea mucronata at the end of the summer after several years of drought, 2. A branch carrying thorny branches with winged young fruits

Fig.9.1.14: Noaea mucronata, sprouting in the winter of a moist year. Long winter leaves above short summer leaves

Fig.9.1.15: Slightly twisted leaves of Sternbergia clusiana