Middle Eastern Wildflower ID’d

Lizard Orchid (Protected), photographed by Jeff Zablow in Rosh Hanikra, Israel

Butterflies, it was butterflies that I was after. Good enough that I was finding them here in Rosh Hanikra National Park, at the very northeastern tip of Israel, right at the border with Lebanon.

I was also discovering many wildflowers that I had never seen in Israel. Stop and expend valuable slide film each time? And time, that too was limited (always limited in the field).

When I noted this extraordinary tower of bloom, I stopped. I’d expect to see such an other-worldy plant, like maybe on Mars. How could I not photograph it? It’s an orchid, No?

I have searched my field guides of Israeli Wildflowers, and awaited word from Israel. Well, enough waiting. Without word from expert botanists abroad, I determine that this is NOT an orchid, but a bloomhead of . . . Syrian Bear’s Breech (Acanthus syriacus). Different. Reallllly different.

I’m telling you, come visit Israel, see the HolyLand, and leave some time to split off and work the OMG! habitats that have awaited your visit for 1,000’s of years. You’ve worked too hard, and this trip is deserved. No doubt about that.


Milbert’s Tortoiseshell Butterfly

Milbert's tortoiseshell butterfly photographed at Phipps Conservatory Outdoor Gardens, Pittsburgh, PA

Here’s a heart stopper! Not prepared for this one, I was shooting the abundant Monarchs, Orange Sulphurs, Checkered Skippers and others in this bed of tall verbena flowers.

Then..what was that? A butterfly flew at eye-popping speed into the verbena. My eyes and brain registered the flight pattern, wing shape, wing coloration and how it balanced itself on the flowers. A Milbert’s Tortoiseshell Butterfly!

That is how exciting it is to see one. A group of women were walking along at the same time and after shooting at least 50 exposures, I quietly greeted them and told them that they were steps away from a butterfly that I’d only seen 3x in 11 years. They liked that, alot.

When your eyes are on plane with the Milbert’s wings, and the sun in at its before- noon position in late summer, it’s as if fire is dancing off of those wings! It’s spectacular. Before you head out to Brazil, Costa Rica or Bolivia…first make sure you’ve seen such a Milbert’s.

By the way, you can’t tell a Milbert’s where or when to appear…and if you photo Macro-, and it’s in a privately owned flower bed…then you are thankful for the opportunity.

If your screen allows,click on the image and examine the trailing ends of its wings for those rich blue spots. Uh Huh?

Why haven’t I seen more than 3 of them since 2000?…………………………………..