Plant research in the hills of Kurdistan

Lemon Tree Trust’s Dr Sami Youssef recently led a research trip on land near Domiz camp in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The team were delighted to see the bright and bold colourful jewels of the Anemone coronaria. Also spotted was the delicate blossom of native Prunus, the bell-shaped flowers of Onosma, as well as the sunshine yellow Gagea.

Flowers of spring in the hills of Kurdistan ©Kastro Youssef
Flowers of spring in the hills of Kurdistan ©Kastro Youssef

Sami says: “I have always had a special bond with nature since my childhood. So, I have kept surveying every natural area I have been to, for wild plants. The main purpose of this particular botanical trip into the Bekhair mountains of the Kurdistan Region, was to identify and locate wild plants (edible, medicinal and flowering) to be used in a new therapy garden we are planning for Zozan Park in Domiz camp.

“The main goal of this innovative therapy garden, which will be located inside the refugee camp, is to give people a place they can remember their homes and feel connected to their new community and home in the camp. The other purpose of this botanical survey was to train our local Lemon Tree Trust team on the methodology of conducting botanical surveys and to introduce them to the amazingly rich nature of Kurdistan. We will regularly return to the mountains here in search of new plants and look forward to sharing more photographs of our trips with the rest of the world.”

The rocky outcrop is a part of the Bekhair mountains ©Kastro Youssef
The rocky outcrop is a part of the Bekhair mountains ©Kastro Youssef

 

The limestone mountain range extends from Duhok to Zaxo city ©Kastro Youssef
The limestone mountain range extends from Duhok to Zaxo city ©Kastro Youssef

 

The view from the rocky outcrop of the Bekhair mountains to Duhok city ©Kastro Youssef
The view from the rocky outcrop of the Bekhair mountains to Duhok city ©Kastro Youssef

 

The view from the rocky outcrop of the Bekhair mountains to Domiz camp ©Kastro Youssef
The view from the rocky outcrop of the Bekhair mountains to Domiz camp ©Kastro Youssef

Sami is a botanist and biodiversity expert who fled his home in Syria with his family when war broke out. He lived in Domiz camp before moving his family to France to lecture at the University of Montpelier and continue his research. He has now returned to the Kurdistan Region of Iraq to work full time for the Lemon Tree Trust, coordinating horticulture and urban agriculture projects in Domiz, helping to create a blueprint for other communities of people affected by war around the world.

Find out more about the work on the Lemon Tree Trust by clicking here or hear from the gardeners of Domiz Camp by watching these videos.

 

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