|Joined: 09 Mar 2007
Location: Jbeil Byblos
| Taming the wild flower - Lebanon
|Taming the wild flower by Lebanon traveler
For nearly fifteen years, Ahmad Houri and his wife, Nisrine Machaka-Houri, have been carefully documenting and photographing hundreds of Lebanese wildflowers. Their work has been summarized in Photographic Guide to Wild Flowers of Lebanon and a searchable online database. Houri and his wife have taken time to describe what you can expect to see while hiking during the summer months
Few things in life have the varied benefits of hiking. You experience and gain improved knowledge of the country and remote areas that are rather interesting, exercise, fresh air, meditation, meeting new friends, increased motivation and a positive attitude to name a few. However, you might miss an equally rewarding learning experience, which is the scientific knowledge of what you are seeing.
With its diverse topography, Lebanon presents an outstanding experience for hikers to enjoy plant biodiversity. One of the main features that we have in this country is that, due to the varied elevations we have, you might see the flowers in bud, in full bloom, withered or even seeding on the same day.
Few flowering plants in the summer might be exciting to check out in the lower altitudes, but sea daffodils, which flower in August, are definitely worth pursuing. Higher elevations present an amazing array of wild flowers, large and small, throughout the season.
The average non-botanist might not be too interested about flowers that are less than one centimeter in diameter, nor would one be too excited about non-flashy colors (white and green), but it is important to remember that some of these inconspicuous plants are very rare and might be endemic to Lebanon (i.e. they exist only in Lebanon). Red, yellow, orange, pink and purple are some of the more exciting colors that you might focus on.
In addition, naturalists are "naturally" attracted to large flowers like irises or beautifully designed flowers like orchids. Accordingly, you can see some of the more beautiful flowers on your next hike in the summer.
Still, the experience is not full unless you are accompanied by a knowledgeable person or at least a guide that can tell you the name (not necessarily the scientific ones despite their usefulness), the uses and associated stories with these plants: how they were discovered, who used them first, etc…
These bits of information strengthen the knowledge you might gain during the trip and in turn you will become a transmitter of this knowledge. Fortunately, such general field guides, organized by color, such as our Photographic Guide to Wild Flowers of Lebanon exist in the country, while other site-specific field guides can be very helpful when going to certain reserves (Ammiq wetland) or (Chouf Cedar Reserve). More thorough guides that are organized by scientific family are also available for botanists (Illustrated Flora of Lebanon by Georges Tohmé and Henriette Tohmé).
A thorough understanding of the surrounding environment on every level (scientific, social, psychological) can only enhance your outdoors experience. Please remember when you are out there and you find that amazing flower with an outstanding design, that others can derive just as much pleasure from seeing it as you do. So do yourself and nature a favor and take as many photos as you like, but make sure that you and your group are careful enough to maintain the wonders you see, for others to enjoy.
Flowers you might encounter:
- Tansy-leaf milfoil, tall yarrow
- Spiny Caper
- Wedge-lipped orchid
- Mountain-spignel pink
- Oriental leopard's-bane
- West's tulip
- Broad leaved helleborine
- Lotus sweetjuice
- Short-lobed lizard orchid
- Stinking Tutsan
- Sawfar Iris
- Bushy golden-drop
- Late spider orchid
- Common Rhododendron
- Indian sage