KKL-JNF began to plant Yad Mordechai Forest back in the 1950s, and today the woodland extends over some 3,000 dunam (approx 750 acres) of the low calcareous sandstone ridge on which Kibbutz Yad Mordechai is situated. Derech HaSheizaf (“Jujube Way”) takes its name from the large number of jujube (Ziziphus) trees that border the main route through the forest. KKL-JNF, however, has added a wide variety of other trees to the site, mainly eucalypts of the tuart (Eucalyptus gomphocephala ), flat-topped yate (Eucalyptus occidentalis) and red gum (Eucalyptus rostrata) varieties. Jerusalem pine (Pinus halepensis), stone pine (Pinus pinea), sycamore fig (Ficus sycomorus) and carob (Ceratonia siliqua) trees have also been planted. Along Jujube Way KKL-JNF has provided signs that describe the different varieties of trees in the forest.
The trees are interspersed with the indigenous vegetation characteristic of calcareous sandstone ridges. Spiny broom (Calicotome villosa), which produces a profusion of yellow flowers in February and March, is especially prominent, and its presence testifies to the area’s use for grazing, as it tends to proliferate on grazing lands.. Desert broom (Retama raetam), whose densely clustered white blossom appears in February and attracts hordes of bees, can also be seen everywhere. Although primarily a desert plant it also grows in abundance on the sand dunes and calcareous sandstone ridges of Israel’s Coastal Plain.
The trail leaves the road and turns to the right. On our right is a eucalyptus grove and to the left is a fenced compound enclosing greenhouse crops and henhouses. Beyond it soar the three chimneys of the Israel Electric Corporation’s Rutenberg Power Station. The trail is suitable for private cars.
After about half a kilometer we come to the Sheizaf Recreation Area on the left, where four picnic tables nestle in the shade of some olive trees beside the fence of the agricultural compound. Close by is a large Christ’s thorn jujube tree (Ziziphus spina-christi). However, if you are searching for the ideal picnic spot, we recommend continuing to the other recreation areas further on.
Our route continues northwards beside a long avenue of jujube trees. The Christ’s thorn jujube, which bears small round fruit that resemble miniature apples in both taste and appearance, grows wild in Israel’s Coastal Plain. It is easily identifiable by its three-veined leaves and, of course, by its plentiful long, spiky thorns.
The Nabih Mari Recreation Area
After about 1.2 kilometers, the trail curves round to the right. Immediately after the bend we arrive at a recreation area established in memory of Colonel Nabih Mari of the Galilee community of Hurfeish, who was killed during the riots in Rafiah in 1996 while serving as deputy commander of the IDF’s Gaza Division.
The recreation area, which is equipped with picnic tables and a drinking water fountain, is shaded by eucalypts and pine trees and surrounded also by carob, athel tamarisk (Tamarix aphylla) and olive trees. Two large sycamore fig trees dominate the scene.