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Vartan's Iris
Iris vartanii

4.2 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
Update Time: Jan. 1, 2011, 7:39 a.m.

Iris vartanii is a geophyte with a single scale bulb enveloped in fibrous netlike shells. The plant is 10-20 cm tall and has a stem that bears a single flower. Its leaves are linear, with a square cross-section, pointed at the edges and usually longer than the azure flowers that are 3.5-4.5 cm across. The flower's outer perianth segment forms a lower lip shaped like a narrow, long tongue and its head is spread in the shape of an elongated ellipse, adorned with an azure striped pattern, and a prominent yellow keel at its center like a curled crest. The inner perianth segment is straight, narrow and undeveloped. The style is petal-like, extends above the lip and splits into two narrow lobes about 2 cm long. I. vartanii blooms with leaves at the height of winter from late November to  early February.

The species was first described from the Nazareth Mountains. While its distribution pattern is highly localized, it is relatively common in all of Israel's hilly regions: Judean mountains, Samaria (on the Samarian semi-steppe as well according to Danin, 2004), the Carmel and the lower Galilee. It is rare in the southern Golan and Ramot Menashe. Hundreds of plants were counted on the Ma’on ridge (above 850 m), at Ba’al Hatsor and Mount Eval. In the upper Galilee, the northern Golan and the Hermon its distribution is sparse (Amud Stream, Wadi Bet HaEmek), and it is replaced there by Iris histrio. In the Hebron Hills, it is very common from Karmey Tsur to Mitspe Ya’ir, where populations of hundreds grow. 

Terra rossa soil, mostly
on hard limestone on rocky slopes and between rocks at altitudes above 450
meters on the mountains; it is most abundant above 800 m. It grows with Quercus
and Pistacia palaestina, and with Quercus boissieri
in sunny areas. In the Hebron Hills, it grows in rocky sites in the
Mediterranean-desert ecotone. 

Habitat destruction
presents a significant threat: in the Jerusalem area, Iris vartanii became
almost completely extinct because of road development and construction. Similar
development threatens the Nablus and Ba’al Hatsor areas and the mountainous
regions above 700 m. This is particularly true for the Ma’on ridge, where the
southernmost populations in the world grow. Development of the ridge from Susya
toward Mount Amasa will lead to their extinction.

The plant always grows in a
distant, isolated pattern, with 3-30 m between individuals in the population,
which prevents vegetative reproduction that can create dense colonies.

This is a sub-endemic
species. In areas outside Israel, there is accelerated habitat destruction of
plant communities that include Iris vartanii.

Protected in the Mount
Carmel Reserve, Mount Kabir Reserve, Iris bismarckiana Reserve
(Nazareth) and the Mount Tabor Reserve. 

Conservation of open woodlands
and even creation of clearings in natural woodland.

Endemic to Israel,
Jordan and southern Syria. Also recorded in southern Lebanon, but it is possible
that these are transitional forms to Iris histrio. In Syria, it is found
in the Damascus basin and southern Houran, and the population we are familiar
with from the southern Golan continues eastward from there. 

geophyte whose primary distribution is in Israel. It is rare and grows on
mountains, in open woodland and scrubland throughout Israel's central mountain
ridge. In the upper Galilee and the Hermon, it is replaced by its vicarious
species – Iris histrio. Development activities threaten its populations.

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

Current occupancy map for observations per pixel
1000 squre meter pixel 5000 squre meter pixel 10000 squre meter pixel
number of observations 0 0 0
in total pixels 0 0 0

ClassificationOn the endangered species list
ChorotypeEastern Mediterranean
Conservation SiteKeren Ha’Carmel (Muhraka) and Ba’al Haztsor Mountain

Red number
Peripherality 0
Threat Definition according to the red book Endangered
8 (8) districts
Disjunctiveness: High
21.0% of protected sites

Other Species

Dark-brown Iris, Judean Iris
Petra Iris
Hermon Iris
Samaria Iris