Relict Maquis Trees
Trees are found in huge desert areas mostly near wadis (dry water-courses), where large amounts of water accumulate in the alluvium during winter floods. Most of the Acacia trees in wadis utilize water accumulated in the alluvium (Fig. 3.1.42). Mediterranean trees grow in large soil pockets and below the outcrops of smooth-faced rocks. Juniperus phoenicea grows all around the Mediterranean Sea (Fig. 3.1.43). Its adult branches resemble those of Cupressus sempervirens (cypress tree). However, the juniper cones resemble brownish-red berries when ripe (Figs. 3.1.44, 3.1.45). In the moist parts of its distribution area, e.g. in Greece, north-east of Patras, in maquis with 400-600 mm mean annual rainfall, J. phoenicea develops as a tree or shrub (Fig. 3.1.46, 3.1.47). In moister areas (Fig. 3.1.48) junipers grow on cliffs where their rhizosphere is rather limited in size and the tree functions as a xerophyte. In N Sinai it grows in large soil pockets, below the outcrops of smooth-faced rocks, and in wadis with these smooth rocks in their drainage area (Figs. 3.1.49-3.1.51). It may reach an age of several hundred years (Fig. 3.1.50). In Edom it grows in soil pockets of limestone and hard sandstone (Figs. 3.1.52-3.1.55). Its roots penetrate fissures in the rock (Fig. 3.1.55).
In addition, it also grows in Edom on soft sandstone covered by alluvium-colluvium. Such slopes are seen in mountainous terrain where thick layers of fissured limestone overlie the soft sandstone (Figs. 3.1.52, 3.1.56). A preliminary working hypothesis is that rain water percolating through the fissured limestone accumulates in the clayey layers inter-bedded with the sandstone, at a depth where it is available for tree utilization. There are places in Edom where dripping springs are found in such soft substratum. Wherever J. phoenicea is found, it propagates by way of seed germination (Fig. 3.1.57). Its seedlings establish themselves in appropriate microhabitats in the vicinity of their parents. Looking at the range of growth of J. phoenicea in the Middle East (Fig. 3.1.58), it is found in folded mountains of N Sinai and the mountain slopes of Edom. No spontaneous living trees of this species are found in Israel; however, charcoal fossils of trunks, dating from 9000 and 34000 years ago, were found in archaeological digs in the Negev.