Description & Remarks
A small Allium from the Judean Mts in Israel and the West Bank, recently described in Curtis’s Botanical Magazine. It was first recorded by Ori Fragman-Sapir in the Nahal Sorek area in 2010, and further found and collected by Dar Ben-Natan during field surveys for Deshe OLI and for the SPNI in southern Mt. Hebron and Gush Etsion. The type population occurs in within the boundaries of an expanding town and is under threat of urbanization. Selected specimens have been collected and are in cultivation in the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens, where they have prospered for two years.
Bulb rather shallow, ovoid, 5–15 mm across, often with stipitate bulblets; outer bulb tunics brown, delicately fibrous reticulate. Inner bulb tunics whitish, papery. Bulblets few, dark brown or black, some plants with a bulblets along the lower scape. Scape 20–50 cm, rather slender. Leaves 3–4, linear, canaliculate, sheathing the lower 1/3 –1/2 of the stem, 2–5 mm broad, dry in flowering stage.
Spathe 1-valved, 3–7 cm long, 1.5–3.3 cm broad, beaked, caducous. Umbel 1.5–3 cm across, ovoid, pointed, dense, the middle (upper) flowers open first, with many conspicuous bracteoles at base of pedicels. Flowering pedicels unequal, the outer ones are very short, the inner ones are longer, up to 3 times the length of the perianth. Perianth ovoid, pointed; segments connivant; the outer 5 mm long, white with a green mid-stripe, lanceolate, strongly keeled along the middle, scabrous at back; the inner ones are 5.5–6 mm long, white with a green mid-stripe, oblong, obtuse. Filaments included. Filaments of inner stamens 3 cuspidate, the median cusp bearing the anther; lateral cusps about 2 times as long as median cusp. Anthers and pollen pale yellow. Capsule pointed, about 4–5 mm long, 2.5–4 mm across, wrapped in the dry perianth. Seeds black, 3–4 mm long and 1 mm across, pointed, dispersed gradually during summer.
Superficially, Allium judaeum is similar to Allium curtum subsp. palaestinum and to Allium artemisietorum. These three species have similar dimensions, similar flowering head shape, and pale whitish flowers, though A. judaeum has a greener perianth segment mid-stripe. Allium curtum subsp. palaestinum var. palaestinum may grow in similar habitats, but has smooth perianth segments, dull-darker perianth segment green mid-stripe, exerted filaments, a persistent, 2-3 lobed spathe, and hollow semi-terete leaves. Allium artemisietorum is a desert plant that has scabrid perianth segments like those of A. judaeum, but also has a grey to violet perianth segment mid-stripe and exerted filaments with purple anthers, and its leaves are also hollow and semi-terete.
Two other similar species that in the region occur only on Mt. Hermon above 1000 m are Allium pseudocalyptratum and Allium trachycoleum – both have flat leaves, but differ in smooth perianth segments and a more round umbel. Allium pseudocalyptratum further differs in its exerted anthers, and A. trachycoleum in its scabrid leaves and leaf sheathes. Allium judaeum closely resembles, and is probably most related to Allium rotundum that is found in higher and northern regions such as the high Edom mountains in southern Jordan, eastern Upper Galilee, Golan Heights, Mt. Hermon and north of these parts. Allium rotundum differs from A. judaeum in its dark purple perianth and anthers, stouter habit, and in its outer bulb tunics that are not reticulate and breaking up into fibrous stripes. Allium calyptratum is also similar, but has a wide, lax and hemispherical inflorescence and a more slender, delicate habit.
This species is a narrow endemic that was found in three localities only (about 120 plants in total). It is therefore categorized as an endangered species (according to the IUCN red list criteria.
Dar Ben-Natan and Ori Fragman-Sapir