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Important Plant Areas of Israel

Number of IPAs: 15 IPAs

Israel covers an area of 20,770 km2

Inland sea

15 IPAs have been identified in Israel of which 7 have a high priority for conservation

Israeli Plant Diversity

Israel is a small country (20,770 sq km) which is about 70% desert but nevertheless very rich in plant diversity. The flora of Israel comprises 2,272 different wild species from 128 families and 775 genera. 414 of these species are threatened (critically endangered, endangered and vulnerable) on a national level and 56 are national endemics. While the number of the Red Plants of Israel is high compared with homologous countries, the number of endemic species is much lower.

The richness of the flora is due to Israel’s geographical position between Africa and Asia, where three phytogeographical regions intersect: the Mediterranean, the Irano-Turanian and the Saharo-Arabian. At this crossroads a wide range of habitats, altitudes and climates are present – where temperate species coexist alongside species from tropical, desert and xero-alpine climates. Steep geomorphological and ecological gradients rise from the sea, range over lush green arboreal mountains and descend to extreme desert around the Dead Sea, the lowest region on earth.

47.8% of the wild plants in the Mediterranean and desert regions are annuals that occupy small niches and are known for their fast speciation rate. Israel’s flora reflects these characteristics. The long co-evolution of the local flora with human culture in the Fertile Crescent yields a rich and diverse annual and antipastoral flora, well adapted to the disturbed habitats associated with human civilization.

Important Plant Area Habitats

The IPA sites encompass the following habitats: Mediterranean maquis (chaparral); Mediterranean-desert transition (for e.g. Hebron IPA); desert shrubland (Har HaNegev); extreme desert oasis (Dead Sea coast); coastal plain (Poleg), including the unique vegetation associated with the sandy habitats on Hamra soil (red sandy loam) and kurkar (calcareous sandstone); sand dunes; coastal seasonal pools; wadi beds; wetlands and swamp (Hula); springs and riparian vegetation and coastal salt marshes (Acre).

Significant species include the Israeli endemics Allium negense, Bufonia ramonensis and Ferula daniniias as well as numerous regional endemic species such as Iris atrofusca, I. vartanii, Mosheovia galilae and Rheum palaestinum.


Habitat fragmentation and urbanisation are the greatest threats to IPAs in Israel.


Further information

Important Plant Areas of the south and east Mediterranean region

Find Israel on pages 48-52

IPA data

Data set