Har Tayasim: Terraces of Bet Meir Formation
Most areas of Bet Meir Formation below the En Kerem – Ksalon highway (highway No. 395), have changed considerably in their appearance due to the changes in vegetation. After cultivation of the terraces ceased, plant establishment in the area began, and the vegetation landscape started to change (a process known as "plant succession"). Plants that developed in the area repelled plants that preceded them, and created local conditions for the plants which will later, in turn, repel them. Herbaceous plants which were weeds in the cultivated ground, prevailed in the area after cultivation ceased. Sarcopoterium spinosum shrubs which grow in the fields and terrace margins grow slowly and keep away the herbaceous plants, as discussed in the section on Ramat Bet Hakerem and as seen here, in Figs. 2.2.13, 2.2.14 and 2.2.30. The single trees seen at the terrace margins (Fig. 2.2.31) appear to have been planted in lines and with equal spacing. But these are spontaneous trees and I doubt that there is any chance of oaks being planted there. A maquis of Quercus calliprinos in the Golan, between En Zivan and Har Avital looks like squares of trees left on purpose by the farmers who cultivated the land between these wind breaks. Today, in 2010, the area seen on Fig. 2.2.31 look like a continuous maquis and it is hard to see terraces. Vegetation changes as time passes.
After keeping away the herbaceous plants, shrubs and trees germinate and establish themselves in the shade of the small shrubs. I liked to show my students at Har Tayasim the layer of humus accumulated below the Cistus shrubs. The black leaf remnants always had a "forest smell." Here one may learn that the forest smell is associated with fungal activity, which disintegrates the dead material at the moist site of the shaded ground under the shrubs. Oak acorns arrive in the humus layer by falling from oak trees or by the assistance of rodents and birds living in the area. The acorns remain vital for a long time when protected in the humus, and this increases their chances of germination and survival. Checking details in Fig. 2.2.31, gray-green patches of Calicotome villosa are seen in the brown-green areas of Sarcopoterium and Cistus. As time passes, Calicotome villosa covers most of the area and oak, pine, Pyrus syriaca and others grow in its shade (Figs. 2.2.32, 2.2.33).
I can reveal now, to those who intend to visit Har Tayasim or to take students there, that I had courses in which we spent half a day together, and others in which the visit took only 1-2 hours.