On the occasion of our 120th anniversary, the KKL-JNF proudly launches the "National Tree" competition by inviting the public to choose the tree that they believe best represents the State of Israel.
Over the last 120 years, the KKL-JNF (Israel’s Forest Service) planted over 250 million trees throughout the country, becoming an integral part of the Israeli landscape - each and every one of them beautiful and picturesque, but only one can win!
Meet the Candidates:
No. 1 - The Date Palm (Tamar)
I am an ancient, local tree that has been in the Land of Israel since before the First Temple period. I like to grow in fairly warm areas, for example, the Arava region and the Jordan Valley.
I am very special and have many uses: you can use my fronds as a roof for the sukkah, can eat my fruit for your enjoyment or make honey and wine from them, and my trunk was even used for building and roofing in ancient times.
Everyone knows me as one of the “seven species” native to the Land of Israel. You will find my orchards from the Kinneret Valley in the north to the southern Arava, and in quite a few cities in Israel. I am mentioned in the Bible, and as a result a lot of boys and girls in Israel are named after me.No. 2 - The Olive Tree (Za’it)
There is really no need to explain why I should be chosen as the national tree. Suffice it to look at the country’s emblem and see me there, or to recall the dove from the story of Noah that heralded the end of the flood while holding my branch. I grew up in the Middle East, and in Israel, and today I am commonly found in Greece, Italy and Spain. When I am picked at harvest I am quite bitter, so I am transferred to the oil press so you can enjoy a delicious product.
My fruit can be eaten, turned into oil and has proven medicinal properties. And if all that is not enough, I am also one of the “seven species”.
Want some history too? Check the books and you will find that I have been here for thousands of years, an integral part of this Land.No. 3 - The Tabor Oak (Alon)
Under the Ottoman Empire, thousands of acres of my kind were cut down to provide raw materials for trains and local industry, but I managed to survive and deepen my roots in the Land of Israel. I can withstand heat and dryness and provide plenty of shade, which will make you feel comfortable while sitting under my broad canopy. In addition, I also rise to a high height - sometimes even over 15 meters! My bark is especially thick, and thanks to it I am resistant to fires. I grow mainly in the Golan Heights, in woodlands and in the Lower Galilee.
Ask ancient man, who enjoyed me many years ago - and he will tell you that I am the national tree of Israel.No. 4 - The Mediterranean Cypress (Brosh)
If you travel to Ilaniya in northern Israel, you will discover my ancient remains, but when you continue your journey throughout the country, you will see me in almost every corner. My cousins grow mostly in North America, Africa, the Middle East and China. I produce seed cones, I am fireproof, long-lived and in the Bible it is told that I was used to build Solomon’s Temple.
Even Theodor Herzl, who envisioned the State of Israel, chose me as the national tree, and planted me in the mountains of Jerusalem. And who can forget the beautiful song that the famous Israeli songwriter, Ehud Manor, wrote in my honor, based on his childhood experiences in Binyamina: "And I saw a cypress standing in a field in front of the sun ...".No. 5 - The Eucalyptus Tree
So it’s true, I'm not a local tree. They brought me to Israel, you could even say that they "naturalized" me, but the goal was very important. When malaria struck the Jewish community in the Land of Israel, they realized that only I could solve the problem and dry up the swamps. I immediately set out on a mission, and since then I have been here and even earned the nickname "The Jew’s Tree." From then until now I am here for you, creating beautiful forests, providing shade in the cities, and in times of scarcity I provide fuel for cooking and heating. In addition, thanks to my height, I hid military outposts from enemy view, defended vehicles and farmers with my body and provided security.
Within a few years I can grow from a small seedling into a sturdy tree about 30 meters high. In addition, I am a major source of nectar and pollen nourishing bees so they may produce honey.No. 6 - The Fig Tree (Te’ena)
The Land of Israel has been blessed with me for thousands of years, as I am one of the “seven species” and, the truth is, that it’s impossible not to love me. It is enough to open the Bible and understand who they chose to mention first - the fig tree of course, in the story of Adam and Eve. I have a pleasant aroma, growing near springs and along the Jordan and the Dead Sea valleys.
It does not matter if I am fresh or dried - everyone loves my fruit. I am a particularly easy tree to grow - I don’t require much water and if you have a garden you probably planted me in it. Why am I the national tree? Simple. My remains, from more than 11,000 years ago, were unearthed at the Gilgal excavation site. And with history, you do not argue.No. 7 - The Terebinth Tree (Elah)
In my flowering season, spring, I am the one who adds a bright red color to the Israeli landscape, and in winter, my leaves turn red and fall.
I am a dioicous tree species - one tree bears only male flowers, and another tree only female flowers. There are four different species of me in the Land of Israel and you can find me from northern Israel to the Judean Desert in the south. I am found in most of the country’s woodlands, my form is shrub-like, I have a sweet smell and my fruits are used in folk medicine against various aches and pains.
Quite a few girls across the country are named after me, including one who starred in the famous Israeli song: "Elah, tell me what's happened to her."