We have made this section in our Sub Sinai Adventures website in order to prove that desert does not mean lifeless. There are such a lot of life forms out there that some of us can barely believe it. But there are. We will cover in our FLORA GUIDE section most of the plants you will encounter in your walks through Sinai with full descriptions of their life habitat.
Moreover, we have included a guide to the medicinal uses of some of them.
With this, your experiences in the Sinai Peninsula will reach a new dimension, that of scientific knowledge of the vegetation in the desert regions of our planet.
Driving along the roads and tracks of the arid areas of Sinai, you notice the ubiquitous presence of a wild tree. It is the acacia tree: originally a savanna tree, it can be found along all camel routes, as it is a delicacy for camels. Camels eat from the branches underneath, giving the tree its characteristic umbrella shape. It is believed that the tree migrated to the area with the camels that journeyed from Central Africa to the Sahara and Sinai. The camels carried the seeds in their stomachs, which were then passed out with the dung, reaching the earth eventually to establish a new habitat.This type of tree consumes a lot of water in its cycle but has adapted to the dry atmosphere of Sinai in many ways. It produces thorns that reflect sunlight, reducing evaporation. These thorns are usually found in pairs but if you find a single thorn, it can be broken off to reveal the little worm that lives inside.
The roots can reach as far as 25 metres below the surface to tap underground water supplies. On approaching the tree you can see the gum which is extracted and used for glue. The local Bedouin use its wood to produce charcoal.
Goat herd women use a long hooked stick to bring down dry wood for fire, leaving the green wood. They shake the branches to allow small leaves to fall for the goat kids.
Attempts to make the tree grow at the same rate as it does in the savanna by providing it with more water have failed.
The tree has adapted itself to Sinai by having a very slow rate of growth. A common sight in the Sinai valleys is a folded Bedouin tent hung from an acacia tree, ready for use on the owners' return. In Bedouin culture, any item hung from a tree belongs to someone and should not be touched.