To "Hirbet Mealch" (Salt Ruins) in autumn and early winter

"They say not far from her room, between the sea and the sands, there is a place where the sun shines at night." These charming words, from Shlomo Artzi's song "Absurd", drew us to the "hometown" area of the Late-flowering Narcissus (Autumn Daffodils).

Here, in this special hidden corner in Israel, we look also for autumnal bloom. Later in the season, the Crocus hyemalis and others will bloom here as well.

Equipped with good walking shoes, water, and hats, we pointed the GPS to HaTidhar Street in Or Akiva (At the northern edge of the industrial zone). From here, it’s a short walk to the Salt Ruins.

The walk is not suitable for small children (Danger of falling, as the area is not well organized for visitors) The Salt Ruins is a "secret" site that not many people are familiar with, even the information on the Internet is very sparse.

The place is located north of the Or Akiva industrial zone on two pastoral rocky hills. There, a surprising blossom awaits you every season of the year. Just left of a massive pile of dirt/earth, look for the old trail, which curves to the left towards a large Carob tree.
Next to the Carob tree, the trail turns slightly to the right and begins to climb one of the two "hills" of the Salt Ruins.

In the early fall, during the holidays, the Squils bloom like a festive of candles. During October-November, hundreds of Narcissus serotinus flowers bloom there. The limestone hills in this area serve them as a perfect habitat. The Narcissus serotinus is more gentle than the common daffodil, it blooms without leaves, and its aroma diffuses to greets the visitors. Its yellow crown is smaller and more delicate, and modesty characterizes him…

During our visit in early November and after rainfall, large areas of Colchicum Stevenii, Muscari parviflorum (Rain Bells flowers), Scilla autumnalis, and many Smilax aspera vines . Many of them with red-clusters of fruits. (We felt like getting dressed in them, as women used to decorate their hats with these fruits in ancient times).

The place is wild and not regulated, and the plants are fighting for there living areas. But the unique collection and mix of wildflowers draw here many flora addicts on different seasons.

Who else is blooming in Autumn, and who is going to bloom later in the season? At the northern edge of the two limestone hills, the Biarum angustatum blooms (Be careful not to crush it). The Asparagus aphyllus, Artemisia monosperma, and Crocus aleppicus will begin to bloom shortly.

Among the Smilax aspera vines, the Ephedra foeminea and the Plumbago europaea, with its pale-pink flowers are blossoming. The Polygonum equisetiforme is nesting among the climbing bushes and also the Rubus sanguineus (Holy Bramble (is still blooming here.

In a short while also the following flowers will bloom: Cyclamen persicum, Clematis cirrhosa, and whitish Retama raetam. In the spring, the hills will be covered by hundreds of red Asphodelus ramosus flowers and the yellow Ruta chalepensis bushes. A few trees are also growing here: The Pistacia lentiscus, and several old Carob trees providing sweet fruits during the autumn.

Kolombriums, quarries and burial caves in the limestone cliffs:
Be careful not to fall off the walls of the ancient quarry or slip from the rocks! Historically, the Slat Ruin is an area where several ancient quarries used to operate.
One of the striking points of the hike awaits you with a magnificent quarry structure of beautiful Columbariums (located at the northern edge of the quarries). It is important to emphasize that the whole place is quite neglected, and at times, littering can be annoying. However, even these unpleasant conditions do not harm the uniqueness of the site.

Very little is known about the antiquities found here, and the surrounding ancient settlement. According to the findings, it is believed that the settlement existed during the Roman-Byzantine period. The rock-hewn columbarium is not easy to locate, because trees and rocks surround it (it faces west). The openings of two burial caves, one of them decorated with five sarcophagi, and a second more simple, which is also partially blocked. To reach the impressive burial caves, you have to look in the limestone cliffs on the right.
The cliffs form several "courtyards". Inside them, the ancient caves are located. Since the area is not large, a short ramble will bring you to the beautiful remains.

How to get there:
Turn right (west) from highway #4 opposite to the entrance to Binyamina. The road goes to Or Akiva industrial zone. Drive until Ilan street, turn right (north) and drive until the end of the street. Park on the side of the road. Locate the trailhead on the left side of an earth/dirt pile. Walk about 100 meters on the trail, and you will reach the limestone hills area. Additional attractions in the Area: Kibbutz Maagan Michael fishing pools. (Take the 1st right after entering the Kibbutz) Many migratory birds are landing there (don't forget to bring binoculars and a camera with you)

Taninim stream natural reserve: A leisurely family hike to explore the ancient water aqueduct (Built by Herod) and the Narkis apil bloom.

Hotem Ha Carmel. (Carmel's mountain "nose") Kibbutz Maayan Tzvi fishing pools.

Translation from Hebrew contributed by Erez Speiser from Israel by Foot.




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