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Galilean Alkanet
Alkanna galilaea

4.7 Endangered

name of participantsBased on: "The Red Book of Israeli Plants - Threatened Plants in Israel" by Prof. Avi Shmida, Dr. Gadi Pollack and Dr. Ori Fragman-Sapir

Alkanna galilaea is a perennial herb 30-50 cm high. The entire plant is covered in soft, long hairs that give it a velvety texture. The stem splits near the ground into branches that are long and flowering, prostrate or upright. The leaves are alternate, symmetrically overlapping, oval and stalkless. Basal leaves are elongated-lanced, narrowing towards their base. Flower bracts are oval, heart-shaped at their bases and longer than the fruit calyxes, they are similar to the true leaves below, but smaller. The inflorescences are one-sided and not dense. Calyx lobes are lanced, triangular to elongated, reaching a length of 15 mm on the fruit. Yellow flowers are located in terminal leaf axils. A. galilaea has a rotate corolla, with a narrow, 11-14 mm tube and a round flat limb, 10-12 mm across. The corolla is hairy on the outside and lacks scales at its opening. Flowering begins in March, peaks in mid-April to May and continues until July. Pollination is by long-tongued bees that visit the flowers and suck their abundant nectar. Only long-proboscid bees (or Bombylidae flies), that have a proboscis longer than 9 mm (the length of the A. galilaea tube), can reach the nectar located at the base of the corolla tube. The fruit is composed of four almost spherical mericarps unlike the elongated mericarps in A. orientalis, a close species. The mericarp has a rough coat and is 4.5 mm wide.

A red dye similar to
henna (which is produced from Lawsonia) is produced from the roots of Alkanna
. This is the source of the genus name in Hebrew, Alkanna,
derived from the Arabic word “al-henna.” Bedouin women decorate their faces and
hands with the A. galilaea pigment.

Alkanna galilaea is found in a relatively large number
of locations in three regions: the Gilboa (near Malkishua), lower Galilee (Adami
Ridge) and the Jezreel Valley. In addition, it was found a single time at Gitit
in the Samaria ecotone. The species was collected for the herbarium from the
lower Jordan Valley (Saint John Monastery, 1942) and the Acre Valley (1929),
but has not been found there since. In Flora Palaestina, it was recorded from
the upper Jordan Valley.

Deep valley soil in the
mountains, on highlands and in large valleys, which is not used for intensive
agriculture, and in heavy, occasionally rocky soils in fallow and agricultural

Alkanna galilaea grows in deep soil, which is not utilized for modern
agriculture. This type of habitat is becoming increasingly rare in the area
occupied by
A. galilaea. Its exclusive
affinity for this habitat has made it more sensitive to extinction. The plant
is noticeable, but not sufficiently attractive to be threatened by picking.
Most of the locations in the lower Galilee and the Jezreel Valley are close to settlements,
which increase the threat to the species. The rare species survey conducted in
the 1990s shows that
A. galilaea survived
primarily in the eastern portion of the lower Galilee and Jezreel Valley, and
became extinct in the western parts, which are more intensively cultivated.

of its locations are located more than 5 km apart, which makes cross-pollination

Alkanna galilaea is partially protected in the Mount Gilboa Reserve.
The remaining populations are not in the reserve. 

Alkanna galilaea populations should be preserved in traditionally
farmed sites, without intensive cultivation, in view of its preferred habitat
at the edges of red alluvial soil. The most urgent recommendation is immediate
collection of live material (seeds and plants) and cultivating them in the
areas allotted for this purpose. In addition, the presence of the species
should be monitored throughout the year in the known locations. It is probably not
possible to protect the species in its remaining locations, as they are all within
or at the edges of agricultural lands.

The plant is considered
endemic only in Israel, but grows in Jordan as well, in the area of Balka west
of Amman, which Flora Palaestina considers the “Ammon” region, thus making it

Alkanna galilaea is a small endemic shrub, limited to only
three regions in Israel. Small populations have survived in a few locations, particularly
in the eastern part of the lower Galilee and Jezreel Valley; it is extinct in
the western portions that are more intensively cultivated. It is endangered,
because its only habitat is deep soil that is suited for cultivation. A. galilaea
is disappearing from Israel and the world before our eyes.

name of participantsBased on: "The Red Book of Israeli Plants - Threatened Plants in Israel" by Prof. Avi Shmida, Dr. Gadi Pollack and Dr. Ori Fragman-Sapir

Current Occupancy Map

ClassificationOn the endangered species list
EcosystemMediterranean and Semi-Steppe Belt
Conservation SiteGilboa Nature Reserve (Malkishua) and Adami Ridge Reservation (near Yavne’el)

Red number


4 (6) districts
Disjunctiveness: Medium
7.7% of protected sites

Other Species

Yellow Gromwell, Yellow Bugloss
Negev Alkanet
Oriental Alkanet
Ogastemma pusillum