Ilanot Arboretum was founded in the 1950s by the Forest Research Department as a grove for the acclimatization of trees in Israel. And today, you can stroll and take a look at the collection of trees. Let’s begin exploring!
Ilanot Forest lies next to the old Tel-Aviv – Haifa highway (road #4), close to Dror Junction. You can enter the Ilanot National Arboretum by turning right from highway #4 north.
Map of the area:
And here is the introductory sign that you can find near the entrance to Ilanot National Arboretum:
There is plenty of free parking on site.
The Botanical Garden is open daily from 08:00 until sunset (the gate is locked at sunset).
The restrooms are open daily from 9:00 to 16:00.
If you wish to visit the visitors’ center, you must schedule it by phone (09-8974800) or email ([email protected]). The Visitors’ Center is open on Sunday – Thursday: 9:00 – 16:00.
Email: [email protected]
At the Entrance
As you enter the Ilanot Arboretum, you will see several facilities near the parking. The first one is the visitor center. There is also a picnic area, restrooms, water fountains, and accessible trails.
In the heart of the Sharon region, there is a unique and amazing arboretum, the only one of its kind in Israel. The arboretum, a botanical garden for trees, covers an area of 130 dunams and was founded in the 1950s by the Forest Research Department of the Israel Ministry of Agriculture. The arboretum was a grove for the acclimatization of trees in Israel. Indeed, the foresters of the Ministry of Agriculture did their work, and they gathered more than 700 species of trees from all over the world and planted them in a grove with twenty-five sections, in accordance with the geographical regions from which the trees were collected. The site was appropriately called Ilanot, which in Hebrew means trees.
The arboretum flourished. Scientists checked the species in the grove for their level of suitability as forest species in Israel. The site served as a center for forestry research in Israel, and many important studies were implemented there regarding seed collection, tree pests, and other fields related to forestry. The great diversity of tree species in the Ilanot grove drew students from the Faculty of Agriculture in Rehovot as well as high school students, landscape architects, and nature lovers from Israel and abroad.
In 1986 the Forest Research Department closed down, and work in Ilanot stopped. The place was abandoned. Some of the trees died because they did not suit the climatic conditions. Others withered due to lack of care. The area became filled with weeds, and the wonderful garden was forgotten.
Note: unless stated otherwise, all quotes were taken from the official site.
The Restoration of the Arboretum
In 2013 KKL-JNF decided to save the arboretum and undertook its restoration. Restoration works included mapping the trees meticulously, treating the trees that were still alive, planting additional species, and installing a computerized irrigation system. At the foot of each tree species represented in the arboretum, there is now a sign that identifies it. The sign has a QR code that can be scanned by a smartphone for additional interesting information.
KKL-JNF has paved two and a half kilometers of trails in the Ilanot arboretum. Thanks to a contribution from the Jewish Federation of Middlesex, New Jersey, the arboretum was made accessible for people with physical disabilities. The trails are well paved, and wheelchair and stroller friendly. Alongside the trails, there are benches where one can sit and contemplate the beautiful trees.
Next to the recreation area, which also has parking, there are accessible picnic tables and information stations that provide brief audio explanations about the arboretum. The restrooms in the renovated visitors’ center are also accessible.
Children and youth will also be interested in touring the forest botanical garden. They will be able to find out about the tree species through an interactive game with QR codes to scan with smartphones for solving riddles.
And now, after the introduction, let’s take a walk at the conservatory. Right at the beginning, you will see an audio guide in three languages that will tell you about this place (similar to what we covered so far).
At the beginning of the trail you will see Eucalyptus melanophloia.
In the same place, to the right of the trail, is a tree very odd in appearance. It is hard to imagine anyone associating the silver-leaved ironbark tree with the eucalyptus species, but you can tell by the leaves, which are silvery. The younger leaves are heart shaped, the older ones elliptical like an egg, and their base envelop the stem that holds them. Its special appearance makes this type of eucalyptus ornamental. In Israel it has been planted in the Jordan Valley and in the Western Negev. There were 170 species of eucalyptus planted in Ilanot, and about half of them remain. They can be seen later on in the tour. (There are more than 700 species of eucalyptus trees.)
I did not know there are so many types of Eucalyptus, and we will see some of them later on.
I loved the fact that by each tree, you can find its name, origin, and a QR code.
Interactive game: an enchanted forest game for children and youth played by scanning the QR codes on the signposts all over the arboretum with a smartphone.
Further ahead, you will see an area with unique Cupressus. They are either unique by size, the way they look, or they have historical importance. Like the Cupressus that Ben Gurion planted in 1949.
Relief of a Deer
To your left, you will see a relief of a deer. Until recently, the creator of the deer statue was unknown. But following a random visit by Haim Alon, the sculptor’s son, we now know the name of the artist.
Zvi (Hirsch) Tverdezbo was born in 1915 in the town of Mezrit in Poland. Tveredzewo has been carving and sculpting in wood since childhood, and even won a scholarship to study at the Warsaw School of Art due to his skills. Later he also studied at the Art Academy in Krakow, and at the age of 21 already had his first exhibition. During World War II, while a soldier in the Polish army, Tveredzew was captured by the Russians, charged with a speedy trial for spying for the Germans, and exiled for 10 years of labor in a Siberian labor camp, followed by another 20 months of work in the Kamchatka mines. Throughout his imprisonment he engaged in painting and sculpture, carved figures of camp friends and crosses for Russian guards and even erected wooden monuments. After the end of the war, his case was re-examined and Tverdejo was released. In 1956, he fulfilled his dream of immigrating to Israel and settled in the Ein Hatchelet neighborhood of Netanya. He was also accompanied by his wife Hannah (Ania), who was also a prisoner in Kamchatka, and their eldest daughter Ella.
In the first years in the country, Tabardzhabo was employed in road and agriculture. As part of this, apparently, he also worked in the Ilanot forest and sculpted the deer statue. He later worked as a sculpture teacher at the ORT Leibowitz School in Netanya. Throughout the years he continued the work of sculpture, especially in wood, characterized by his unique unique style in detail, and tireless stubbornness to put his art into practice, even though it imposed on him the daily difficulties of an artist. His sculptures were scattered throughout the Sharon and the Hefer Valley and from time to time he even exhibited them in small exhibitions. The subjects of the sculptures were varied: biblical figures, scenes from the history of Zionism, African figures, portraits from life in Netanya, nude figures and more. Two of them even gained modest fame. The Knesset in Jerusalem, to look at Ben-Gurion, the other is an impressive head sculpture of President Kennedy, who after hardships even came to the White House in Washington.
Arriving at another gateway next to an intersection with four paths, we see one of the superstars of the arboretum, a mottlecah tree. It looks like a shrub and grows wild in the semi-arid regions of Western Australia. The fleshy leaves that recall arrows are covered with fuzz that make them look gray. The main beauty of this plant is its giant red flower, the largest of the eucalyptus species. The flower has innumerable red stamens with yellow tips of pollen. It flowers from mid-October until mid-winter. Understandably, such large flowers will also produce large fruits, which gave the species its name. In Israel this tree has been planted in a few places, among them the localities of the Western Negev, Nir Oz and the Sde Teiman airfield.
If you continue further ahead then you will reach the labyrinth.
…we will see the labyrinth, a new attraction in the arboretum formed with concentric circles of two kinds of shrubs.
The shorter plants are Rhus glauca, blue kuni-rhus, and the taller ones are Lagerstroemia indica, crepe myrtle, which has colorful flowers in the summer. Both of these species are easy to shape and are therefore suitable for labyrinths.
Across from the labyrinth, several meters to the right of the trail is the Casuarina Circle, which is an excellent place to be alone or to get together with a group of people. These very tall she-oak trees create a circle with a diameter of 8 meters and an exceptional atmosphere.
Quercus ithaburensis, the Mount Tabor oak, is a tree in the beech family.
It is found in Southeastern Europe, from southeastern Italy, southern Albania and Greece, and in southwestern Asia from Turkey south through Lebanon, Israel, Syria, and neighboring Jordan, whose national tree it is.
Leucaena leucocephala is a small fast-growing mimosoid tree native to southern Mexico and northern Central America (Belize and Guatemala) and is now naturalized throughout the tropics.
Common names include white leadtree, jumbay, river tamarind, ipil-ipil, and white popinac.
L. leucocephala is used for a variety of purposes, such as fencing, soil fertility, firewood, fiber, and livestock fodder.
Dracaena draco, the Canary Islands dragon tree or drago, is a subtropical tree in the genus Dracaena, native to the Canary Islands, Cape Verde, Madeira, western Morocco, and introduced to the Azores. It is the natural symbol of the island of Tenerife, together with the blue chaffinch.
Note: the prologue fruits that you can see in the photo above, belong to a nearby Kigelia africana.
Kigelia is a genus of flowering plants in the family Bignoniaceae. The genus consists of only one species, Kigelia africana, which occurs throughout tropical Africa. The so-called sausage tree grows a fruit that is up to 60 cm (2 feet) long, weighs about 7 kg (15 pounds), and resembles a sausage in a casing.
Cupressus lusitanica var. benthamii
Cupressus lusitanica, (cedro blanco; teotlate, distinctive names used in Mexico); cedro blanco means white cedar and is also known as Mexican white cedar or cedar-of-Goa, is a species of cypress native to Mexico and Central America (Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras). It has also been introduced to Belize, Costa Rica and Nicaragua, growing at 1,200–3,000 meters (3,900–9,800 ft) altitude.
The scientific name lusitanica (of Portugal) refers to its very early cultivation there, with plants imported from Mexico to the monastery at Buçaco, near Coimbra in Portugal in about 1634; these trees were already over 130 years old when the species was botanically described by Miller in 1768.
The paved trail veers left, and we are again near the labyrinth, which is on our left. Beyond it, to the right of the trail, is a Chilean mesquite tree. Israeli farmers fear the mesquite because the local species are incomparably tenacious shrubs and plague cultivated fields. In America, however, the mesquite is a proper tree creating landscapes that recall the acacia trees in Israel. They are important there as a source of food in the arid regions of that continent. The Chilean mesquite is a small tree, which beautifies the arid regions of Chile as its name suggests.
Pinus canariensis, the Canary Island pine, is a species of gymnosperm in the conifer family Pinaceae. It is a large, evergreen tree native and endemic to the outer Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean. It is a subtropical pine and does not tolerate low temperatures or hard frost, surviving temperatures down to about −6 to −10 °C. Within its natural area, it grows under extremely variable rainfall regimes, from less than 300 mm (12 in) to several thousands, mostly due to differences in mist-capturing by the foliage. Under warm conditions, this is one of the most drought-tolerant pines, living even with less than 200 mm (7.9 in) of rainfall per year. It is the vegetable symbol of the island of La Palma.
Pinus roxburghii, commonly known as chir pine or longleaf Indian pine, is a species of pine, native to the Himalayas. It was named after William Roxburgh.
It took us about 75 minutes to complete the trail at a slow pace. Depending on your speed, interest, and the number of photos you take, it will take you 1 – 2 hours to complete the cyclic trail.
And after completing the main trail, we had a small picnic near the visitors’ center.
Ilanot National Arboretum is a place that many do not know about its existence. And that is a pity. It is a lovely place for a walk that allows for seeing different kinds of trees. The accessible trails make it suitable for baby strollers, and since there is no wildlife, you can also walk your dog.
Have you ever been to Ilanot National Arboretum? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.
That’s all for today, and I’ll see you in future travels!
Additional ResourcesHere are several resources that I created to help travelers:
- Israel Trip Planner is the page that will help you to create your perfect travel route.
- National Parks And Nature Reserves page lists and put all national parks on the map. There is also a top list, information about ticket types and campsites.
- If you are looking for things to do, here are the pages for Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Sea Of Galilee, and Makhtesh Ramon.
- Wondering what events are there in Israel? Here is the Events And Festivals By Season guide.