Fragile red bursts of beauty exploding into an oasis of glory, Israel’s poppies are certainly a sight to behold. Known as a kalanit in Hebrew (technically a poppy anemone), these red flowers are so loved that they are actually the National Flower of Israel. Countless songs have been written about their beauty and the direct translation of the name Kalanit in Hebrew means bride. Israelis love these flowers so much they are considered to be as beautiful as a bride on her wedding day.
Poppies – Symbol of Peace
The poppy is a beloved and popular flower all around the world. It has countless meaning and symbolisms across cultures and different colored blooms tend to represent different things. Among the ancient cultures, this flower usually symbolized peaceful sleep. Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians even used the poppy sap as a type of sedative to aid in sleeping. Within Greek mythology, the god of dreams – Morpheus boasted this flower as his symbol while in ancient Egypt, it symbolized Osiris, the god of death.
In the US, after World War I, the poppy became a symbol to memorialize fallen soldiers, while in some Eastern European countries it symbolized the opposite – love and success. In Israel, poppies are a symbol of life; as they are one of the first flowers to bloom after the long winter and they appear in some of the most unlikely places (like the desert).
Best Places to See the Poppies in Israel
These beautiful, red poppies grow all around Israel at the beginning of spring until their eventual withering in the summer heat. Although they can be spotted all over the country, popping up in just about any grassy area, certain parts of the country dominate with their stunning display of crimson-covered fields.
South – Darom Adom
The Negev Desert is by far the most popular place to spot the poppies in Israel; marked by the famous festival called Darom Adom. This festival was created exclusively to exemplify the yearly wonder of the arid south becoming covered in a carpet of red wildflowers. They are found at the Shokda Forest, Be’eri Forest, Kibbutz Dvir, and more. Check out Darom Adom for more details depending on the year.
Jerusalem Area & Jordan Valley
Jerusalem and the surrounding hilltops also flaunt an impressive array of blossoms, peaking a bit later than the south. They can be found all over the green hilltops, but we found the most beautiful show to be in the Jordan Valley, a small and fertile strip of land between the Jerusalem area and the Jordan River. If you drive along Route 90 you’ll not only have a stunning view of wildflower-covered fields and hills, but you can stop along the side, park the car, and relax in the swaying stems of beauty just waiting to be appreciated.
When are the Poppies in Bloom?
Poppy season in Israel depends greatly on the geographical location. It can start as early as January and go until April (or even sometimes May), depending on the rains. They bloom earliest in the South and there is even an entire festival called Darom Adom in honor of the spectacular sight of thousands of red poppies dotting the otherwise barren desert-like hills. Even if you happen to miss the southern festival (like we did), don’t worry…the poppies bloom later in other parts of the country, so you will still have a chance to catch a few glimpses around Jerusalem or other more northern areas. However, remember that once the flowers blossom, they only stay alive for about one week!
Fashion Shoot in the Poppy Fields
Capturing the beauty of Israel poppy season is perhaps one of our absolute favorite things in the world. After a rainy and cold winter, there is little more exciting than seeing little bursts of life. We couldn’t resist creating two bright red dresses to take pictures in the glorious fields of poppies. The plan? Predominately red dresses with added highlights of black jewelry, earrings, bracelets…mimicking the poppy itself. Nothing better than copying nature in its beautiful perfection.
Handmade Red Poppy Dresses
Two dresses. Bright red fabric. Vintage patterns. Time to sew.
Dress 1: Audrey Hepburn 60s Style Gown
I found in our fabric stash a small piece of vintage red fabric from the 60s/70s. A little bit of a thick material with textured lines giving it a slightly striped effect. I used the pattern I made for my favorite vintage style little black dress with a form-fitting halter top. A pretty simple project with just five pieces, it didn’t take me that long to make. The biggest challenge was deciding on the length. Should I make it long and elegant or short and casual? In the end, I decided on the extravagant look. I can always cut it later once I get sick of the long look.
Dress 2- Dreamy and Flowy Set
Once the first dress was made, we had to create a matching beauty. We went fabric shopping at our fabric stores in Tel Aviv and found this beautiful semi-shiny red material, flowy and also textured similar to the vintage fabric. Looking through our vintage patterns we found a particularly beautiful 40s ballgown with a long billowing skirt. As it offered the option to make a separate skirt and wrap around top, we couldn’t resist. Although the full dress would certainly be a little much for everyday wear, if we made separates, the top could be used for work or as casual street clothes.
Fun Facts About Poppies
- National Flower – Known in Hebrew as the kalanit (technically Poppy Anemone), they are so loved in Israel that they are the National Flower of Israel, with famous singers even creating songs lauding their beauty.
- Poppy vs Anemone – in Israel there are two types of flowers that are very similar and grow nearby, making them have to differentiate; the כלנית (kalanit – anemone poppy) and the פרג (pereg – poppy). At first glance they look almost the same, but there are some slight differences that distinguish them.
- Look but Don’t Touch – In Israel it is actually illegal to pick this lovely bloom. As tempting as it may be to take a few home, in fear of overpicking (as had happened in the past) Israel decided to make it illegal to pick these wildflowers in order to preserve them and prevent them from becoming endangered.
- Poppy Seeds – Poppy seeds are actually illegal in some countries such as Saudi Arabia, China, Singapore, Taiwan, and the UAE due to potentially containing races of opiates.
- Medicine – Ancient Egyptians doctors would prescribe poppy seeds to their patients for pain relief, which would have been effective as they actually contain small amounts of morpheine and codeine
Looking to see some of the other beautiful wildflowers Israel has to offer? Check out: 5 BEST PLACES TO SEE SPECTACULAR WILDFLOWERS & FIELDS OF FLOWERS IN ISRAEL
Lots of Love and Safe Travels,
Danielle and Brooke, Colorful Sisters