Ziziphus spina-christi, known as the Christ's thorn jujube, is an evergreen tree or plant native to northern and tropical Africa, Southern and Western Asia. It is native to the Levant, East Africa and some tropical countries. Fruit and leaves from the tree have been used in Ancient Egyptian food and medicine. Modern research has shown that compounds extracted from the tree's leaves could be used to decrease severe inflammation. Additionally, honey from bees that feed on the tree's nectar has anti-bacterial properties that inhibit infectious diseases, especially when compared to other types of honey.
In the Levant, it grows in valleys up to an elevation of 500 m. The ripe fruits are edible. The seed, contained within a small, oblong woody pit, is opened and eaten by local fauna, including the rock hyrax.
Cultural and religious references
In the Levant, a hundred years ago, it was called sidr (associated with the Lote-trees of the Quran) and was common in the Jordan Valley and around Jerusalem. There were some folklore traditions that said the trees were protected by benevolent spirits or dead saints (weli). By some traditions, it was the tree from which Jesus' crown of thorns was made. Matthew George Easton argues that Z. spina-christi is too brittle to be bent into a crown, and suggests another local plant, Ziziphus lotus.
The oldest known Z. spina-christi is located south of Jerusalem, in Ein Hatzeva, Israel. It is estimated to be between 1500 and 2000 years old. It is believed locally to be the very tree from which Jesus' crown of thorns was made.
Ziziphus spina-christi fruit, Behbahan, Iran
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- Reinhard Fichtl. "Christ's Thorn - Ziziphus spina-Christi". Bees for Development. Archived from the original on April 24, 2010.
- Easton (1893), p. 688, "It overruns a great part of the Jordan valley."
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- Easton (1893), p. 174.
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- "The "old man" of Hatzeva – the jujube tree at Hatzeva Spring". www.moag.gov.il. Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development.
- Grossman, Michelle Malka (24 January 2016). "Israeli trees get IDs with interactive heritage project". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 27 October 2019.
- Sutton, Candace (20 April 2019). "The real story of Jesus Christ's crown of thorns". news.com.au. Retrieved 27 October 2019.
- Easton, M.G. (1893). Illustrated Bible Dictionary and Treasury of Biblical History, Biography, Geography, Doctrine, and Literature: With Numerous Illustrations and Important Chronological Tables and Maps. London, Edinburgh and New York: T. Nelson and Sons.
- Ziziphus spina-christi in West African plants – A Photo Guide.
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