The Shkedia in bloom.
(photo credit: ITSIK MAROM)
In Israel, the winter is short. Plants in Israel seem to have known this for
millennia and start celebrating the spring even before the middle of February.
Of course there is no proper celebration without the “queen” present in her best
dress. This role is played by the almond tree (shaked – Prunus dulcis) well
known in Hebrew as shkedia. While most of the surrounding trees are torpid for
the winter, the almond tree is ready to mark the New Year for Trees. The almond
tree remains bare from the autumn through most of the winter.
the almond tree is covered in thousands of pinkish white flowers all over its
branches, before its new leaves sprout. The sight of wonderful white blossoms
that have become the symbol of Tu Bishvat signal that spring is
The almond tree, which originated in western Asia, was cultivated
by man thousands of years ago. It is mentioned in the Bible at the time of
Joseph and his brothers around 3,700 years ago.
These trees are found all
over the northern half of Israel and in some parts of the Negev. The beautiful
flowers of the almond tree give off a pleasant scent and produce nectar that
attracts bees and other insects for pollination. In March, the almond tree loses
its flowers. The fertilized flowers are replaced by almonds, which will be ripe
only six months later. This fruit contains small amounts of cyanide, which makes
it dangerous to eat large amounts of bitter almonds from wild almond trees.
Nevertheless, cultivated almond trees are appropriately treated, resulting in
much less harmful agents and large quantities of protein, vitamins and
Almond orchards are especially plentiful in the Judean lowland
and the Galilee. The wild almond tree is protected in Israel, so observe and
enjoy its beautiful blossoms and prepare yourselves for spring, which is just
around the corner.