Ancient Orchards of Sinai

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St Katherine’s orchard tradition goes back over a thousand years and was started by monks around the Monastery of St Katherine. Small communities settled around the monastery and grew fruits and vegetables to eat. Orchards got bigger and grew around chapels and monasteries and Bedouin communities followed by creating orchards in the highland wadis. Orchard produce like apples, apricots, pomegranates, figs, grapes, mulberries and almonds were cultivated and were important for local people. Nevertheless, over the last decades many people have left their orchards and just 40 are active. 

What will you see in the different seasons?
Almond Blossom

Almond Blossom

When the winter begins, the almond trees start blooming and you find all the trees covered with these beautiful flowers.

Quince

Quince

Safarjal or Quince grows in mountain regions around the world. Used to make jam and has a pleasant strong aroma, it is grown in many orchards in Sinai but the produce is not big. You can see it at the end of autumn.

Olives

Olives

A very common tree in the mountains. The monastery owns large olive groves in some valleys and makes olive oil.

Apricot

Apricot

Very unique taste, different from other kinds of apricot in the Nile valley. The only fruit the Bedouin kept drying in recent times to be used in Ramadan to make apricot drink. You can visit us at the end of the spring to pick it from the trees and eat.

Almond

Almond

Very common in the mountains, with surplus sold locally. There are two known types, a variety with a hard shell, and one with a soft layer that is easy to break by hand.

Grapes

Grapes

A popular fruit growing in gardens near water sources.

Hawthorn

Hawthorn

Known as "Za'ror", this grows in the high mountains. It has very small fruits which is used locally for treating  the heart and high blood pressure diseases.

Apple

Apple

Different types of apples are grown, which ripen at different times. We dry is very sweet apples unique in Saint Katherine.

Pomegranate

Pomegranate

Very common fruit, found in most of the orchards.

Fig

Fig

Fig is grown in gardens but you can also find many fig trees with small fruits in the wild.

Mango

Mango

Grow only in the lower valleys, a very sweet species.

Pistachios

Pistachios

Only found in a few orchards, but recently Bedouin started to cultivate it on larger scale.

Rosemary

Rosemary

Locally known as "Zanzabil", used as a tea flavor, grows in many orchards.

Wild Oregano

Wild Oregano

Known as "Za'atar", it has a unique taste and grows in the wild. The Bedouin women collect it through grazing, then dry it to sell.

Sinai Rosefinch

Sinai Rosefinch

Locally known as "Gazama", usually seen in high mountains and near the top of Musa Mountain. It exists in different places around the world but it was first discovered in South Sinai.

Palestine Sunbird

Palestine Sunbird

Also known as Arabic Tameir (Nectarinia osea), you can find it in the lower elevations in St Katherine during the winter and in the high mountains during summer. These birds feed on nectar and also catch insects.

Oenanthe Leucopyga

Oenanthe Leucopyga

Very common in the deserts and in the high mountains.

Dates

Dates

You can only see few palm trees in the high mountains. Dates grow more in the lower valleys like Firan and are most common in oases in the desert.

Wild Rose

Wild Rose

(Genus: Rosa arabica). Very rare roses grow in the high mountains and are endemic to StKatherine.

Nabag

Nabag

Ziziphus Spina-Christi  Known as "Nabag". It's the fruits of Sidr tree which grow in the lower valleys. They produce very tasty small fruits, eaten fresh and dried, and the Bedouin make nabag flour for use in different recipes.

Plum

Plum

Known as "Shallouk". Found in a few orchards, but plum is not a major product.