The Tree Of Life: Bahrain’s Greatest 400-year-old Mystery

When you think of the name ‘The Tree of Life’ you probably imagine this grand tree surrounded by lush vegetation, flowers, running water and more. While you can be forgiven for having this preconceived notion about ‘Trees of Life’, the Tree of Life in Bahrain is slightly different in that it doesn’t measure up to that imagery at all. In fact, Bahrain’s version is somewhat of an anomaly in the fact that it stands alone, in an arid, hot desert with no visible water around for miles. So what makes this Tree of Life stay alive for four hundred years and still go strong? What do we know about it? Here is a bit of a rundown on this unique piece of vegetation that has kept visitors and locals stumped for hundreds of years.

Water, Water Everywhere…?

Perhaps one of the most baffling of the mysteries of this tree is the fact that there is no discernible water source for literally miles. This has confused locals and tourists alike for centuries as the Tree of Life not only manages to survive, but it manages to thrive in this unforgiving, barren desert landscape. It’s believed that there is some form of underground well or spring that the tree manages to tap into through its roots but this has never been confirmed and so its water source remains a mystery, although some believe it has evolved to suck moisture from the air despite it being bone dry.

Garden Of Eden?

Local legend has it that Bahrain is the site of the biblical Garden of Eden. While this is simply just somewhat of a rumour, the bible does mention a Tree of Life within its walls and would go a bit further to explaining the mystery source of life giving water for this tree. While this remains unconfirmed it doesn’t stop tourists from coming to visit the tree – roughly fifty thousand per year come to check out this unique and sole piece of vegetation in the area. Needless to say, the fact that this is literally the only living vegetation in the area makes for some rather mystical thinking in terms of its origin when nothing else can be found.

Age Old

A number of tests done on the tree have yielded some information that can explain the tree itself as well as its origins. Although it neither confirms nor denies the suggestion that the Bahrain Tree of Life is the very same as the Garden of Eden Tree of Life, the tests have confirmed that the tree was planted sometime in the 1580s and is an Acacia tree. Acacias are typically prized by nomadic peoples of the desert for providing shelter in the form of shade as well as being a source of wood for campfires.

Some theories are that it is somehow drawing water from the closest stream. Some think that it’s learnt to extract moisture from the breeze from the Persian Gulf. It’s all conjecture anyway, and it continues to mystify.

So if you find yourself in Bahrain and you want to get your own look at a tree that both baffles and inspires mankind, make room in your trip for a trip out to see the Tree of Life. You’ll need to get a taxi there from Manama city, as no public transport goes that far out.

There’s absolutely nothing to do other than check out the tree! I didn’t have a lot of love for Bahrain (or any of the other oil-rich Gulf States) and I’m no botanist – but I liked this story. In a world full of information overload, it’s kind of refreshing to not know things for certain. Keeps you young and humble!

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