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The Botanical Garden at Ein Gedi

A magnificent cacti garden, an abundance of plants from all around the world, a great baobab tree with a wide trunk and even plants which were found at the Temple Mount. A visit at the only Botanical Garden that has a kibbutz in it
by: Israel Traveler   |   17.04.2011
Upon arriving to kibbutz Ein Gedi, the largest oasis in the world, one cannot but be impressed by the beautiful landscape, by the wonderful combination of colors with the desert yellow, the light blue of the Dead Sea and the green of the plentiful vegetation that grows here. In fact, the members of kibbutz Ein Gedi who are responsible for the vegetation have nurtured the vegetation here in such a dedicated manner until the whole courtyard of kibbutz Ein Gedi has turned into an official botanical garden, with the garden and kibbutz existing one next to the other in complete harmony. Today, the Botanical Garden at kibbutz Ein Gedi is the only botanical garden in the world that is home to a settlement.
As it is hot here in the summer and pleasant in the winter and as the air is always filled with minerals, the vegetation here is rich and grows quickly and into especially large sizes. Thus upon walking around in this botanical garden’s paths one feels as if being inside a tropical forest. So how did it all start? In 1959 the members of kibbutz Ein Gedi settled on a desolate and sun burned hill which did not have any kind of vegetation on it. There was an absolute need for gardening and shading work and those were done very quickly. Soon enough more and more plants were brought in from places in which there are climate conditions that are similar to those that exist in kibbutz Ein Gedi. Today the Botanical Garden in kibbutz Ein Gedi offers an abundance of plants from many places all over the world, while typical Israeli trees, such as the pomegranate tree, the olive tree and the fig tree are located next to plants from far away places such as Madagascar and other places in Africa, Australia, America and many others. In kibbutz Ein Gedi’s Botanical Garden one can find 40 different types of palm trees, from miniature palm trees to very tall palm trees, a great baobab tree with a wide trunk- the most northern baobab tree in the world, and of course the famous cacti garden that is named "Zalmanland” and is maintained by Zalman Digmi, a member of kibbutz Ein Gedi, which includes about a thousand types of cacti. You will also find here tens of types of spices and medicinal and aromatic herbs, such as the frankincense which was once used to hide the body odors around the Temple Mount; various types of myrrh, which the Vatican ordered for a special sermon by the Pope, and another type of myrrh believed by researchers to be the famous Biblical persimmon and many more.
One can walk around freely at the Botanical Garden in kibbutz Ein Gedi and learn about the trees and plants which grow here with the help of the signs that are provided here or take a guided tour with one of the Botanical Garden’s crew members.
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