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Madonna Lily
Lilium candidum

3.2 Vulnerable

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: Aug. 21, 2023, 4:32 p.m.

Lilium candidum grows in the
Upper Galilee and on the Carmel at 20 sites, although it can be assumed that
due to the difficult access to some of the cliff sites, there are additional
sites and the estimated total is 23 sites. On the northern and western Carmel
cliffs there are 15 known sites. In the Upper Galilee
L. candidum
is is found in two sections – the Kziv Stream in the Western Galilee and on the
Peki’in Ridge on the Galilee peaks (details –
Cohen and Schmida, 1991). The plant has not been found so far on the Hermon.
L. candidum was collected for the first time in Israel in
1925 – by Naftolsky and Eig on the walls of a deep karst pit on the
Ridge (Eig, 1926). This
botanical find created a great deal of excitement among biblical scholars as
well as in the Christian world. During the 1940s Tuvia Kushnir identified the species
for the first time on the Carmel.

Open rocky
habitats at the foot of limestone cliffs and occasionally on the broken cliff
sections jutting out of dense woodland in mountainous areas with an annual precipitation
above 600 mm. The leaf rosette also grows in shaded woods near cliffs but does
not bloom. In woodland clearings, the plant blooms and produces seeds (Oz,

The number of Lilium candidum sites is apparently
stable for many years.

The total number of plants found in Israel is estimated
at a few thousand, with each site typically populated by tens to hundreds of plants
that grow in clusters of 1-10 plants. L. candidum plants produce many
seeds and their fertility was examined in nurseries and was found to be very
high. Many small plants, probably from germinating seeds, can be seen near
mature individuals at all the natural L. candidum sites.

The threat of damage to the L. candidum plants is
relatively low because most of the sites are far from human settlements or very
difficult to access. Also, the sites are not slated for development. However,
the flowers are attractive and there is a danger of picking and of bulb uprooting,
particularly on sites located near trails, such as the Keren Bartut in the
Galilee and "Little Switzerland” in the Carmel. It is also possible that the
formation of dense woodland as part of the succession process, adversely affect
the species.

L. candidum
is protected by law. Most of its sites are located in nature reserves.

L. candidum
is found in the eastern Mediterranean Basin and does not appear in red plants

One Lilium candidum
population in the Carmel and another in the Upper Galilee, should be subject to
regular long-term monitoring, in order to understand the dynamics of the
relation between the numbers of plants in relation to the development of the woodland.
If there is a significant reduction in the number of plants, calculated opening
the woodland should be considered. The grazing and controlled cutting used on
Peki’in Ridge, which keeps the woodland open
and the Lilium habitats well-lit should probably be considered. Sites
located near trails and paths should be singposted cautioning visitors to
protect the plants near them.

Lilium candidum is found in southern former Yugoslavia, Greece, Crete
and the Aegean Islands, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Israel. The Carmel is its global
southern limit. Some parts of its current global range are not natural, as the
plant has become a religious symbol since the Minoan civilization in Crete and
it has been planted profusely in gardens since the Persian period and has
spread to adjacent natural areas.

Lilium candidum
is a tall geophyte among the rarest and most beautiful plants in Israel. It is
found on few sites in only two regions. Most of the sites on which it grows are
not vulnerable to development. It is a very attractive plant that faces a real threat
of picking and bulb uprooting. Closing of woodland negatively affects
L. candidum
plants. The species should also be cultivated in refuge gardens.


איג, א. 1926. תוספת לידיעת הצמחיה של ארץ-ישראל. תל אביב. 39-40.
עוז, א. 1988. מחקר אוכלוסיות השושן הצחור בכרמל. כתב יד.
פז, ע. 1988. "האם השושן צחור". טבע וארץ ל/8; ל/9.

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 SitePeki’in Ridge, Wadi Kelah on the Carmel

Red number
Peripherality N
Threat Definition according to the red book Vulnerable
2 (2) districts
Disjunctiveness: 0
73.1% of protected sites

Other Species

Early Star-of-Bethlehem, Radnor Lily
Gagea libanotica
Day's Gagea
Gagea gageoides