We decided to take part in a unique project led by the Israeli Plant Gene Bank. The aim of this project is to conserve Israel’s traditional ancient wheat varieties (land races).

Wheat has been a fundamental component in the human diet for thousands of years, ever since the domestication of wild emmer (mother-of-wheat, rediscovered by Aaron Aaronsohn in 1906 near Rosh-Pina) and the beginning of human agriculture. Over the years the large genetic diversity that once characterized traditional agriculture has become eroded. Israel’s land races have been replaced by directed selection for high-yielding varieties that are more adapted to modern cultivation.
In an attempt to restore some of these land races back to Israel’s landscape, it was decided to grow them in educational institutes such as botanical gardens, thus enabling us to observe more closely the wheat variants and to learn about the history of agricultural development. Seven wheat land races were sown in the “Seven species” plot, divided into durum or hard wheat and common or bread wheat. The seeds that were sown in December germinated very well and are now growing taller than the familiar modern wheat. At the beginning of spring we expect the spikes to appear and harvesting should be possible after the reaping of wheat in late May or June.  

Wheat in the Botanical Garden, photo: Kineret Manevich

Wheat in the Botanical Garden, photo: Kineret Manevich

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