Plants That Came From Afar


Citrus Orchards

​Prickly Pear

​Beach Evening Primrose

Japanese Persimmon

 Plants That Came From Afar

In addition to the indigenous flora, which is so rich, thousands of plant species have been brought to Israel by man. Some were brought here for a specific purpose; others made it to our soil by chance. For example, plant seeds found in imported fish food or sprouting in imported coconut wool. The majority of plants, which came from all corners of the world, are ornamental and forest plants. They came from climates similar to ours. Such plants enrich the landscape, especially in tended areas: gardens, parks and planted forests. There is an ongoing debate between professionals that support the introduction of exotic flora to local gardens and parks and those against the practice. However, there is no debate that these foreign species add variety to the appearance of blooming gardens, open spaces and scenic landscapes across Israel. Many of these "imports" have become commonplace to the countryside of our youth, to the point that we are unaware that they are actually from somewhere else. Examples of imports from this group include the evening primrose, prickly pear, and significant ornamental and forest plants such as the Eucalyptus, Sycamore fig and Turkish pine trees. They all have become an integral part of the local scenery. Non-indigenous plants pass through several stages of acclimation; the first stage is to grow in specified, confined locations from which they do not spread. Most of the introduced plants remain within this framework, performing well and progressing towards the goal for which they were brought to Israel. A few of them will meander into the second stage, where they spread and still do not cause any harm. Some of the plants that have survived the second stage, move into the third stage. This is the phase when the foreign plants begin to displace local species, causing environmental and economic damage. Plants reaching this stage are called invasive plants. Treating invasive plants is complicated; Many of them have very strong reproduction capabilities; strong seed production, root sprouting ability, bulb reproduction in the form of many bulblets, and the spreading of other plant organs. To complicate matters even more, at the first stage many important plants may remain dormant for decades. At some point, they move into the second stage, and then the third, thus becoming invaders. In Israel, research on invasive plants is in its infancy. The awareness of this problem exists, and all environmental organizations are addressing this issue.