Ancient Orchards of Sinai
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?
When the winter begins, the almond trees start blooming and you find all the trees covered with these beautiful flowers.
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.
A very common tree in the mountains. The monastery owns large olive groves in some valleys and makes olive oil.
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.
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.
A popular fruit growing in gardens near water sources.
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.
Different types of apples are grown, which ripen at different times. We dry is very sweet apples unique in Saint Katherine.
Very common fruit, found in most of the orchards.
Fig is grown in gardens but you can also find many fig trees with small fruits in the wild.
Grow only in the lower valleys, a very sweet species.
Only found in a few orchards, but recently Bedouin started to cultivate it on larger scale.
Locally known as "Zanzabil", used as a tea flavor, grows in many orchards.
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.
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.
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.
Very common in the deserts and in the high mountains.
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.
(Genus: Rosa arabica). Very rare roses grow in the high mountains and are endemic to StKatherine.
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.
Known as "Shallouk". Found in a few orchards, but plum is not a major product.