Is This ‘Pretzel Knot’ Tree Real?

The credit for this knot-shaped tree does not go to mother nature.

  • Published
Image via Israel's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development

Claim

A photograph shows two trees twisted together into a knot shape.

Rating

What's True

This is a genuine photograph of two trees that were twisted together into a knot shape.

What's False

However, these trees did not grow naturally into this shape. This is a "living sculpture."

Origin

A photograph supposedly showing two trees that were twisted together into a knot shape is frequently met with curious comments as it circulates on social media:

This is a genuine photograph of a twisted “knot” tree. However, these trees did not grow naturally into this formation. This is a living tree sculpture created by Aharon Naveh. 

It should also be noted that while photos of these trees have been shared under titles such as “pretzel knot trees,” this is not literal description, nor does any of them appear to be the official title of this tree sculpture. Literally speaking, the shape of this tree might best be described as a granny knot.

We haven’t been able to source this specific image, but the knot or pretzel trees it shows can be found on a living tree sculpture farm at the Kibbutz Revivim in the Negev desert in southern Israel. According to the country’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Naveh started cultivating these tree sculptures at the kibbutz, a communal settlement in Israel, in 1985 by “tying, pushing and pressing, bending and twisting” these trees until they reach the desired shape. 

Here’s an excerpt from Israel’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development page on this tree sculpture farm (loosely translated via Google):

The designed wood plot – wood sculptures – was established in 1985 by Aharon Naveh, the kibbutz’s veteran gardener, who decided 25 years ago to sculpt in wood, tying, pushing and pressing, bending and twisting until you get the desired result. There are also failures and many surprises. 

[…]

A visit to the place is admirable, raises questions and especially a strong desire to be photographed with the trees in appropriate poses. There are those who have a few reservations about these works, but there is no doubt that professionally this is a fascinating and well-known work in the world that testifies to the ability to work with nature.

Professional secret: How to create a tree on a pile of stones? Plant the tree in soil piled on rocks. After about 10 years, the rock is gradually exposed by spraying water, and this is the result: a tree “sitting” on a rock and its roots embrace the rock and descend to the ground.

A video from the Kibbutz Revivim shows more living tree sculptures: