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San Diego Floral Association
From The Archives of California Garden

See past editorial content: Growing Grounds | Favorite Tool | Friend or Foe | Floral Stories | Roots | Archives

 

December 1965–January 1966
Some Bible Plants To Be Found in the San Diego Area

September/October 2011, Volume 102 No. 5
© SAN DIEGO FLORAL ASSOCIATION
This story may not be published in any form or copied onto another website without written permission from
San Diego Floral Association.


Cedar of Lebanon

 

“The Tree Man of San Diego,” Chauncy I. Jerabek, is profiled in the “ROOTS” column of this issue. This article is among the many he contributed to California Garden over a span of 50 years. For this story, he consulted Winifred Walker’s All the Plants in the Bible, first published in 1957. His tree descriptions are shortened in the following excerpt. –Nancy Carol Carter

 

December 1965–January 1966
Some Bible Plants To Be Found in the San Diego Area


By Chauncy I. Jerabek

Few people today realize that the same plants that existed in Bible times can be found growing in our own immediate area. I should like to mention a few outstanding ones.

Cedar of Lebanon: Cedrus libani, which lived hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, is full of sacred interest. It was often referred to in the Bible and described by many writers from 1500 down to the present time. King Solomon used its fragrant, long-lasting wood to build his temple and palace. When young, the growth and foliage of the Lebanon, Atlas and Deodar cedars are vastly different but, with age, the growth and even the cones resemble each other.

Cypress Tree: A conifer mentioned in Noah’s ark is Cupressus sempervirens, a native of southern Europe and western Asia. Known in this country mainly as an ornamental, even in olden times it was famous as the most durable timber in southern Europe. Ancient Greeks carved statutes of their gods out of this wood. Temple doors of this material sometimes lasted 1000 years.

Myrtle: Myrtus communis is native to the hills around Jerusalem [and is mentioned in the Bible as] a source of perfume and of oil for tanning leather. Its sweetness and fresh green beauty made it popular for decorating festive booth so that it became an emblem of peace, justice and immortality.

Date Palm: Phoenix dactylifera, the true Date Palm, originated in Arabia, Persia, Upper Egypt and nearby countries. Eventually, the tree forms a straight slender trunk, 100 or more feet high, pointing towards Heaven. A branch or leaf was borne by the ancients as a symbol of victory and rejoicing. The finest palm trees of the Biblical age were around Jericho and along the banks of the Jordan.

Olive Trees: Perhaps among the most revered trees of ancient times were the olive trees in the Garden of Gesthsemane near Jersualem where, according to [the book of Matthew] Jesus communed with God. Olea europaea grows to 25 feet. Of variable habit, the trunks become gnarled with age. Pale yellow flowers are followed by shiny purple-black fruit that are edible when cured. Valuable oil is extracted from the flesh and seed.

Edible Fig: Ficus cariac is the botanical name of the first fruit to be recorded in the Bible. The edible fig, a deciduous tree, is sometimes trained to a single trunk or it has multiple stems and procombant branches.

Paper Reed: Cyperus papyus, also called Bulrush, is native to Northern Africa and Palestine. It grows to a height of 15 feet with a three-cornered stalk 2 to 3 inches in diameter, topped by a brush umbel of drooping thread-like leaves. In ancient days its stems almost completely hid the swamps and rivers, forming an impassable jungle. The plant was used to make small floating rafts, mats and papers.

Laurel or Sweet-bay Tree: Laurus nobilis was originally around the East Mediterranean basin, today it is found in the hills of northern Palestine, Mount Carmel and the small valley near Galilee where it grows 40 to 50 feet tall. They belong to the same family as our Sassafras and Cinnamon. The Roman emperors wore laurel leaves to indicate nobility and chaplet were used to crown the victors in Olympic games.

© SAN DIEGO FLORAL ASSOCIATION and © Nancy Carol Carter.
This story may not be published in any form or copied onto another website without written permission from
San Diego Floral Association.


Mission: To promote the knowledge and appreciation of horticulture and floriculture in the San Diego region.







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