Discovering the Mysterious ‘Tree of Life’ on Salt Island in the Heart of the Dead Sea

A tree seemingly growing out of a pristine white salt island in the heart of the Dead Sea isn’t something you’d expect to see when visiting the world’s saltiest body of water, and yet that’s exactly the sight you’re treated to near the beach of Ein Bokek.

With a salt concentration over 10 times that of the ocean, the Dead Sea is incapable of sustaining any plant or animal life, so come there’s a tree growing there, and on an island made of salt, of all places? The famous Dead Sea Salt Island, a bizarre natural creation comprised of brilliant white salt and surrounded by turquoise water, is located within swimming distance of the beach in Ein Bokek, an Israeli resort close to Arad. A tree that doesn’t belong there and a shallow pool of enticing water are in the middle of it. And yet…

The tree of the Dead Sea is such an amazing sight that I’m surprised it hasn’t received more attention on Instagram and other travel-oriented social networks. Even if nothing is as it seems, it is extremely odd to observe a live thing thriving in the center of a body of water renowned for its incapacity to support life.

Even though a close inspection of the tree will reveal buds on the branches and roots stretching into the salty crust of the island, it doesn’t mean that the tree sprouted and grew there. It was carried and “planted” on the salt island by a local artist as a unique work of art. He has reportedly been going to the tree every day and covering its base in mud to ensure that it receives all the nutrients it needs to live in this hard climate.

The Dead Sea itself is dying, with the shoreline encroaching on the water every year, and maybe the so-called “tree of life” is a metaphor for that, or maybe having something grow in the middle of the Dead Sea is the metaphor. Nobody is truly sure, but then again, nobody really cares either. The tree actually exists, and it’s a terrific photo prop for Instagram…

So if you ever find yourself visiting the Dead Sea, and pass by Ein Bokek, make sure to check out the tree of life and the beautiful sea island it “grows” on.

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