Flora and fauna

The Greek compound is one of the last remaining wild habitats in inner-city Jerusalem.  As urban development proceeds at lightning speed, it is more important than ever to preserve sites such as this. In spring, the compound is carpeted in wild flowers. Dr Mina Faran, an Israeli  biologist and leader in the field of Israeli medicinal plants, identified more than 50 species of wild plant during only two hours at the site during one spring day. Many of the plants are mentioned in religious sources and/or have medicinal qualities. Ironically, given the site’s religious importance, one of them – a yellow daisy – is called Crepis sancta or Holy’s Hawk’s-beard.

The diverse flora supports a diverse fauna that ranges from insects and butterflies to birds and small reptiles.

In short, the Greek compound constitutes one of the last remaining natural ecosystems in a city where natural habitats are fast disappearing under asphalt and buildings.

Over the past few years, it has been known primarily to neighborhood residents, the Greek Orthodox Church and visiting pilgrims from Israel and overseas. For this reason, it was not included in visits by the Municipality and the Society for the Protection of Nature when the two bodies compiled a list of nature sites in Jerusalem.  Another, nearby site – Givat HaTanach (Bible Hill), which overlooks a busy road and has views eastwards to the desert – was included in the list, even though its flora and fauna are similar to that of the Greek compound.

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