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Israel Dr. Sarah Sallon, left, and ...
Israel Dr. Sarah Sallon, left, and Elaine Solowey with Methuselah. Photo courtesy of Arava Institute
California native Elaine Solowey, director of the Arava Institute's Center for Sustainable Agriculture, made international headlines in 2005 when she successfully sprouted a date palm from a 2,000-year-old date seed found during archeological excavations at Masada in the 1960s.
The male tree, named Methuselah for the long-lived biblical character, has since sprouted three offshoots that will be removed and grown separately.
established an experimental orchard 35 years ago to provide material for research and exploration of new applications in botanical medicine, renewable energy and sustainable agriculture.
was given the precious date seed by Dr. Sarah Sallon, director of the Louis L. Borick Natural Medicine Research Center of the Hadassah Medical Organization.
In August 2015, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority named Solowey's Experimental Orchards - now a part of the Arava Institute
- an official Shelter Garden for Endangered Plants.
It contains hundreds of plant varieties to enable the study of medicinal herbs, crops that can be grown in arid and saline soil, and plants that can be cultivated for biofuel.
is now nurturing six more date trees from ancient seeds in the Experimental Orchards.
If one proves to be female, she
will use pollen from Methuselah and his
offspring to fertilize the female fruit.
Read more about: Alon Tal, Arava Institute
, Elaine Solowey
, environment, Israel, Social Action
"Certainly some of the plants that ...
"Certainly some of the plants that were cultivated in ancient times and have gone extinct or other plants once important to ecosystems which have disappeared would be very useful today if they could be brought back," said Elaine Solowey, a botanist at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies in Israel.
resurrected the 2,000-year-old date palm that previously held the title of oldest regenerated seed.
palm seed, though, had been buried in a dry, cool area, a far cry from the S. stenophylla seeds' permafrost environment.
Regenerating seeds that have been frozen at 19 degrees Fahrenheit (-7 degrees Celsius) for so long could have major implications, said Solowey
, who was not involved in the new study.
Dr. Elaine Solowey, director ...
Dr. Elaine Solowey, director of the Center for Sustainable Agriculture at AIES and an expert in crops appropriate for arid lands, was very skeptical at the possibility of taking ancient seeds and producing something viable from them.
With only six seeds, recovered by the Louis L. Borick Natural Medicine Research Center of the Hadassah Medical Organization from excavations at Masada in the 1960s, she set out to cultivate a Judean date palm.
Methuselah is actually a part of a larger project of Dr. Solowey's
, and with this success she
plans to create a center for the study of ancient, extinct, and endangered seeds.
"We want to make sure that endangered plant species don't disappear from Israel's landscape," said Lehrer.
"We are looking for good uses for native plants which are under threat," he
added, emphasizing the medicinal qualities that are just the beginning of what is to be discovered about these Israeli plants.
Davidâ€™s first weeks back at AIES | Arava Institute for Environmental Studies
Dr. Elaine Soloway, director of our Center for Sustainable Agriculture, returned from a 15-day trip to the United States, where she visited with family and advanced two exciting projects.
First, at the highly regarded Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, Elaine met with department heads and toured their labs, which are part of an enormous research facility "like a city inside a city," she said.
Second, Elaine visited the Bronx Botanical Garden at the request of the head of the garden.
The exchanged "wish lists" for plants and Elaine
has been invited back to lecture there next year.
Center for Sustainable Agriculture | Arava Institute for Environmental Studies
Dr. Elaine Solowey
Center for Hyper-Arid Socio-Ecology
The Center for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA), directed by Dr. Elaine Solowey, is a vital player in the field of desert agriculture and sustainable agriculture in the Middle East and the world.
The Center is dedicated to the investigation and preservation of arid lands and their natural resources, and works collaboratively with leading institutions including Ben-Gurion University
, Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research at Sde Boqer
, and the Department of Applied Research.
Dr. Solowey's research
in the Experimental Orchards, which she
founded 33 years ago, is the foundation for important new applications in botanical medicine, renewable energy, and sustainable agriculture.
work covers a wide range of subjects including the study of endangered medicinal herbs, the search for crops that can be grown in arid and saline soil, and the investigation into raising plants on marginal lands suitable for the production of ethanol for bio-fuel.
Middle East Medicinal Plant Project (MEMP), which is sponsored by the Louis L. Borick Natural Medicine Research Center of Hadassah Hospital
, aims to protect and propagate the rare medicinal and biblical plants of the Southern Negev and Dead Sea area.
MEMP has informed innovative pharmaceutical
Methuselah is a date palm that Dr. Elaine Solowey
sprouted from a 2,000 date seed.
This seed, among others, was found during the excavations of Masada in the mid 1960's.
In 2005, several of these seeds were obtained by the Louis L. Borick Natural Medicine
Director of Center for Sustainable Agriculture
I particularly enjoyed studying with Elaine Solowey
class about sustainable agriculture where we learned about the effects of global climate change and in response learned to create and maintain our own garden in the Arava desert."