Every spring, the Negev desert blooms with poppy anemones – Anemone coronaria – (known as kalaniyot in Hebrew). Fields of kalaniyot bloom in both the south and in the north of Israel.
Distribution and Habitat
Eastern Mediterranean littoral, from Greece, Albania, southern Turkey and Syria to Israel with sporadic extension east to northern Iraq and west along the Mediterranean shores of Italy, southern France and North Africa. Anemone coronaria grows wild all over the region of Syria, including Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
The Song Kalaniyot
Kalaniyot is an Israeli song that became popular in the days leading up to the establishment of the State of Israel and has remained an Israeli classic. The lyrics, by Nathan Alterman, describe a little girl who dreams she is gathering anemones in a basket and brings them to her mother. The music, by Israeli composer Moshe Vilensky, became one of his most famous melodies. The song was used as a code during the British Mandate to alert fighters of the Lehi and Etzel to the presence of British soldiers (their caps were of the color of the flower). The song was sung by Shoshana Damari. It was sung to her by family and friends when she was on her death bed.
Darom Adom Festival
In the south, the annual Darom Adom Festival (Red South Festival) is celebrated during the month of January/February/March. Much of the desert landscape is covered in a sea of blossoming red poppy anemones – kalaniyot. The red flowers are really beautiful. They can be red, white or lilac color.
Wildfires ignited by kites with incendiary devices and balloons flown from the Gaza border into Israel have caused fires, burning forest and woodland. In six months of 2018 more than 1,053 fires were recorded in the forests surrounding Gaza. Large areas of kalaniyot in Shukda Forest were destroyed in 75 fires. In addition to destroying large areas of agricultural fields, causing grave economic and emotional harm.
G-D willing we will enjoy another Darom Adom Festival (Red South Festival) in the coming spring.