Shajarat-al-Hayat (Tree of Life)
This centuries-old tree tells an unusual tale of vegetation and fertility in the desert.
Impossibly squeezing the moisture from grains of sand, one tree in Bahrain has found a way to thrive in the desert. The Sharajat-al-Hayat or Tree of Life has stood alone in a brutally harsh climate for over 400 years in a remote desert location.
Lacking any visible source of water, the 32-foot mesquite tree has baffled visitors and scientists alike for its entire life as it has continued to grow. Although the mesquite tree is known for holding a great deal of water in its massive root system, there is still no source of water in sight. Even arid vegetation needs water to survive, which makes Bahrain’s Tree of Life even more mysterious.
Without a rational explanation for the tree’s biological success, many have turned to mythology and religion for answers. Some assert that Enki, an ancient god of water in Babylonian and Sumerian mythology, protects the tree. Others still believe the site is the historical location of the Garden of Eden.
Whatever the answer, the tree has shown no sign of dying, and continues to inspire as it stands proudly in the tiny desert nation. Only a mile from the tree is the hazy Jebel Dukhan, the highest point in Bahrain. From 440 feet above sea level, the hill allows for a true appreciation of the barren landscape in which this tree has thrived.
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