New 'summer garlic' species discovered
Plant joins 46 other strains of garlic native to Israel.
A new strain of garlic has been found growing in Israel's Mount Hermon region.
The discovery was made by botanist Salvatore Brullo of the University of Catania in Italy, an expert on wild garlic, and Dr. Ori Fragman-Sapir, chief scientist at the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens at Hebrew University's Givat Ram campus. A report of the discovery was published in the journal Phytotaxa.
The scientists collected samples from an unfamiliar population of garlic while on a tour of Mount Hermon in June 2012. Through genetic mapping and comparison to similar species, Brullo and Fragman-Sapir concluded that it was a previously unknown species.
The plant was given the temporary name of “summer garlic” (Allium therinanthum), because it only blooms in the summer when its leaves are already dry.
Summer garlic grows in the oak forests of Mount Hermon. (Photo: Itamar Grinberg/Flickr)
The garlic prefers mountainous, open oak forests. Its straw-colored flowers are an effective camouflage from herbivores, and late summer blooming offers less competition for pollination. However, the plant is considered under threat from grazing cows and has been declared endangered.
Currently, it is only found in a limited region, but it could later be found in other areas of the Israeli Hermon or along the Hermon range in Syria or Lebanon.
With 46 species of garlic, including four indigenous species not found anywhere else in the world, Israel is considered a secondary center of garlic evolution. Central Asia is considered the epicenter of garlic diversity and evolution.
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