Also known as Windflower, this flower grows abundantly in hills, valleys and fields throughout Israel. Its six to nine velvety petals are usually a deep red, but there are also white, pink and lavender varieties. In modern Hebrew it is called kalanit (little bride). This anemone has been more recently “traditionally” regarded as the lily of the field; however, it blooms from December to March and shrivels too soon to be gathered as kindling with the dry grasses of the field in the summer season.
The lily’s preference for secluded valleys has discredited it as a flower of the field. Several wildflowers native to Israel have been suggested in its place for “lilies of the field” in Matthew 6 and Luke 12.
The Sword Lily has two varieties indigenous to Israel that are non-red candidates for “lilies of the field.” Gladiolus atroviolaceus (Hebrew: sefan sagol), bears rosy-purple blossoms, and Gladiolus italicus (Hebrew: sefan hatevu’ah), has deep pink. These are known also by the common name, Corn Flag. They appear in meadows and grainfields from March through May. An interesting feature of this flower is its contractile roots. When disturbed by the old plowing methods, the roots drew the corms back into place. However, the roots cannot escape modern deep plowing that overturns the soil. The gladiola is a member of the iris family, and the Arabic word for iris in Israel is susan, similar to shoshan.
Did tall white lilies once grow in the fields and terraces of central Judea or near the northern shores of the Sea of Galilee? They don’t today, and that is why many believe that the “lilies of the field” in Matthew 6:28 and Luke 12:27 does not refer to the beautiful and now rare Madonna Lily, Lilium candidum.