Two of the biggest challenges to wildflower spotting are:
1. Knowing exactly where to find a particular wildflower
2. Getting to its location during its brief blooming period
Because my spring days are punctuated by many events and obligations, I don't often consider taking a trip to another part of the country to search for a particular wildflower. However, reading the Orchid Thief last fall, gave me pause. My wildflower spotting "adventures" were nothing compared to the globe-trotting, life-risking endeavors that orchid aficionados undertook to see or possess a rare bloom. Maybe I needed to be a little more daring in my pursuit of some of Jordan's rarer wildflowers.
Friends who live in the south of Jordan told me about a small red tulip which blooms on one particular hillside near their home--if there is enough precipitation. Since we received rain and then snow this winter, I was hopeful that the red tulips would be blooming. I sent a message to my friend and asked her to let me know when and if she saw the wild tulips begin to bloom. I was not sure that I could get myself down to see them, but I figured that I could at least inquire.
I received a text from my friend on a Tuesday. The tulips were blooming, but I'd need to come soon if I wanted to see them. As it turned out, we were schedule to head south on Saturday for our annual camping trip to Wadi Dana. The tulips were another hour and a half south of that destination. I somewhat timidly asked Dear Husband what he thought of driving to see the tulips. It would mean an early departure from Mafraq and three extra hours of driving on our first camping day. He agreed to do it, and Tayta bought into the adventure as well. I informed them that I would double-check the tulip status on Friday, to make sure it was worth the drive.
Results of Friday's tulip-tracking inquiry: my friend said that the sheep and goats, the bane of Jordan's wildflowers, had been through that week, but she thought there were still a few left. Another friend, who went south on Friday scouted the field for us and confirmed a few remaining tulips. Tayta and I worked steadily to get all of our camping gear together on Friday night. At the 11th hour, more adventurous wildflower-loving friends decided to join with us. To bed we went for a night of restless sleep--the kind you have when you know you have to get up for an early morning flight. We were up at 4:30 am and heading out of Mafraq at 6:15am, wide awake with anticipation even before coffee.
We arrived in Ras an-Naqab about 10:30am. This is not the terrain where you would expect to find spring tulips, but I've learned the look for the unexpected.
Coke marks the spot. Our scouting friend marked the point at which we should turn south into the field with an empty Coke bottle and a stick.
We fanned out over the field of rocks and dirt to look for the low growing tulips. Dear Husband was an awesome scout--you can see him way out in the distance, the white speck on the edge of the bluff. A couple of us remarked that the experience of searching for tulips reminded us of childhood Easter egg hunts.
We were near a rural village and so pulled on our appropriate long skirts and donned our headscarves. The wind was wild so we were challenged to keep everything in place.
Dear Husband for the assist in the photo shoot: blocking the wind and holding back the thorny brambles so that I can get a shot.
This picture shows well the challenging habitat of the Naqab tulip, and helps one to better appreciate it's determined beauty.
This tulip had its leaf chewed by goats or sheep, but the beautiful flower remained.
We also spotted some black garlic, and Dear Husband, the superstar scout of the trip, found one and one only specimen of the this previously-unspotted-by-me desert lily. It remains nameless as I haven't located it in my field guide. I'm pretty sure it is in the genus Ornithogalum, a type of Star of Bethlehem, but I'm not able to confirm that.