Special Trees in Israel to Hug

Ancient olive tree with an 8 meter circumference trunk, at the Beit Jamal Monastery. KKL-JNF Photo Archive
Ancient olive tree with an 8 meter circumference trunk, at the Beit Jamal Monastery. KKL-JNF Photo Archive
KKL-JNF is famous for its afforestation work in Israel, blanketing what were once desolate, rocky hills and mountains with green forests from north to south. However, there stand a few natural woodlands and unique trees that managed to survive the misuse of the Ottoman Empire, so if you’re the sort of person who loves special trees and doesn’t want to miss an opportunity to visit them and maybe even give them a hug, then this post is for you.
More information on the trees that we list below can be found in the fascinating book 101 Special and Amazing Trees in Israel. This book was compiled by tree historian and guide Yaacov Shkolnik, KKL-JNF olive and fruit grove expert Sohil Zidan, and KKL-JNF chief ecologist Dr. Yoram Goldring, who worked together to map and detail Israel’s 200 most oldest and special trees. KKL-JNF keeps the details of each tree on a database that enables the organization to monitor and protect them. 
Join us on a journey to visit just of few of these special trees. 
The most amazing olive tree in the Middle East?
In one of the olive tree plantations at the foot of the Beit Jamal monastery near Beit Shemesh is an unforgettable olive tree with a circumference of close to 8 meters and an incredible maze of a trunk. Tradition has it that the Talmudic sage Rabban Gamliel owned a plantation here, so who knows? Maybe this tree belonged to him?
How to get there:
From Highway 38, turn east to the Beit Jamal monastery and park your car at the parking lot. Walk about 700 meters back and turn west (left) on the first dirt path. Keep walking between beautiful old olive trees, and then pass some more recently planted trees. About 600 meters later you won’t be able to miss this exceptional tree.
Fifteen-armed Jujube Tree
This jujube tree is extremely rare, with 15 arms spreading out from the earth in all directions. There are benches around the tree and fruit trees, making it the perfect place to have a picnic or to spend some quiet time in the presence of a tree with a powerful spirit.
How to get there:
Drive through Moshav Tel Shahar and exit through the southern gate. Drive another kilometer to Nahal Sorek, don’t cross it but turn right to the road alongside the creek. The jujube tree is 400 meters down the road.
Jujube tree split into 15 sections in Moshav Tel Shahar. KKL-JNF Photo Archive
Jujube tree split into 15 sections in Moshav Tel Shahar. KKL-JNF Photo Archive
The Northernmost Doum Palm in the World
In the Evrona salt flat, which is located about ten kilometers north of Eilat, are the northernmost doum palms in the world. You can’t miss them – they can reach a height of 15 meters and branch out into two equally sized columns. The ones you see here are apparently all that are left of what was once a larger group of trees.
How to get there:
The salt flat is east of Highway 90, about 8 kilometers north of Eilat. Between kilometers 22-23 turn onto a dirt road marked in black. 
Trees in Jerusalem
For those of you who prefer urban surroundings, there are some amazing trees in Jerusalem. Here are a couple:
Israel’s tallest laurel tree grows in front of The British War Cemetery on Mount Scopus. It is approximately 100 years old, stands more than 17 meters tall, and the trunk looks as if three trees were fused together.
Israel’s most famous trees are the ancient olive trees located in the Garden of Gethsemane, the valley at the foot of the Mount of Olives where Christians believe Jesus prayed before he was crucified.
Doum Palms in the Evrona Salt Flats near Eilat. KKL-JNF Photo Archive
Doum Palms in the Evrona Salt Flats near Eilat. KKL-JNF Photo Archive
A Tree Museum?
Yes, there is such a thing. In the heart of the Sharon region, there is a very special forest, the only one of its kind in Israel – the Ilanot Arboretum, a botanical forest garden. Seven hundred and fifty species of trees from all over the world grow here side by side. 
Originally used as a testing ground by the government of the fledgling state of Israel to see which trees would be able to adapt here, it was closed down by the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture in1986, after which it fell into neglect. KKL-JNF has revived the arboretum, and has transformed it into a beautiful park to visit, equipped with accessible paths, picnic areas and audio-visual stations. 
A tour of the forest is a wonderful experience for tree lovers and an opportunity to get acquainted with foreign, strange and wondrous trees, some of them quite exotic in appearance. Small signposts note the names of most of the trees.
When here, don’t miss the Labyrinth and the Casuarina Circle. There is also an enchanted forest game for children and youth played by scanning the QR codes on the signposts all over the arboretum with a smartphone. 
How to get there: Ilanot Forest lies to the east of the old Tel-Aviv – Haifa highway (Highway 4) between Dror Junction and Hasharon Junction (Beit Lid Junction). One can enter the arboretum from the south and from the north.
As the Bible says, “For man is like a tree of the field (Deut. 20:19)”. Indeed, judging from the connection we feel when faced with an inspiring tree, nothing could be closer to the truth.