Technion: Save iris by killing weeds

Construction of new neighborhoods and connecting roads posed serious danger to the flower.

nazareth iris 88 (photo credit: )
nazareth iris 88
(photo credit: )
The Nazareth iris is in danger of extinction in the city for which it's named, according to researchers at the Technion's civil and environmental engineering faculty in Haifa. "The Nazareth iris is a beautiful and unique flower that grows in small numbers in the Upper and Lower Galilee," said Bosmat Segal, who did her master's thesis on the species under the supervision of Dr. Yohai Carmel. "The nature reserve in Nazareth is very small, with just 130 dunams, and there the iris population is in decline," she said. The construction of new neighborhoods and connecting roads isolated the flower colonies and has prevented them from creating genetic connections, she said. In addition, a prickly weed that spreads easily is holding back the growth of the rare irises. Even tree plantings of the Jewish National Fund, Segal maintained, have hurt the survival of the flowers. She marked patches of land, each five by five meters. In four of them, she burned the weeds; in four others she cut them back; and in four more she left them untouched. On patches where they were burned or cut back, the Nazareth iris became much more prolific. She thus recommended that the prickly weed be destroyed to save the purple, white and black iris flowers, as construction projects cannot be halted.