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This article surveys the ethnobotany of Ziziphus spina-christi (L.) Desf. in the Middle East from various aspects: historical, religious, philological, literary, linguistic, as well as pharmacological, among Muslims, Jews, and Christians. It is suggested that this is the only tree species considered "holy" by Muslims (all the individuals of the species are sanctified by religion) in addition to its status as "sacred tree " (particular trees which are venerated due to historical or magical events related to them, regardless of their botanical identity) in the Middle East. It has also a special status as "blessed tree" among the Druze.
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Journal of Ethnobiology and
Ethnomedicine
Open Access
Research
The ethnobotany of Christ's Thorn Jujube (Ziziphus spina-christi) in
Israel
Amots Dafni*
1
, Shay Levy
1
and Efraim Lev
2
Address:
1
Institute of Evolution, University of Haifa, Haifa, 31905, Israel and
2
Dep. of Erets Israel Studies, University of Haifa, Haifa, 31905, Israel
Email: Amots Dafni* - adafni@research.haifa.ac.il; Shay Levy - adafni@research.haifa.ac.il; Efraim Lev - efraiml@research.haifa.ac.il
* Corresponding author
IsraelethnobotanyChrist's Thorn JujubeZiziphus spina-christiholy treesacred tree
Abstract
This article surveys the ethnobotany of Ziziphus spina-christi (L.) Desf. in the Middle East from
various aspects: historical, religious, philological, literary, linguistic, as well as pharmacological,
among Muslims, Jews, and Christians. It is suggested that this is the only tree species considered
"holy" by Muslims (all the individuals of the species are sanctified by religion) in addition to its status
as "sacred tree " (particular trees which are venerated due to historical or magical events related
to them, regardless of their botanical identity) in the Middle East. It has also a special status as
"blessed tree" among the Druze.
Introduction
Christ's Thorn Jujube (Ziziphus spina-christi (L.) Desf.
[Rhamnaceae] is a tropical evergreen tree of Sudanese ori-
gin. It grows in Israel in all valleys and lowlands, and usu-
ally is confined to low elevations below a.s.l. 500 m [1].
The tree and its parts appear to have been in use in
Pharaonic industry (carpentry), diet, and in medicine. The
fruits were sometimes made into bread, which may also
have been used for dressings when warm. Egyptian peas-
ants made similar bread as late as the beginning of the 20
th century [2].
The Christ's Thorn Jujube has been mentioned in classical
sources. The Greek botanist. Theophrastus (4
th
–3rd centu-
ries BC) wrote, "The (Egyptian) 'Christ Thorn is more
shrubby than the lotos (might be Ziziphus lotus (l.) Lam.);
it has a leaf like the tree of the same name of our country,
but the fruit is different, for it is not flat, but round and
red, and in size as large as the fruit of the prickly cedar or
a little larger; it has a stone which is not eaten with the
fruit, as in the case of the pomegranate, but the fruit is
sweet, and, if one pours wine over it, they say that it
becomes sweeter and that it makes the wine sweeter" [3].
Pliny (1
st
century AD) mentions the tree in comparison
with related species: "The region of Cryonic ranks the
lotus below its own Christ-thorn" [4].
This common species is frequently mentioned in Chris-
tian as well as Muslim traditions, and was also recorded
by pilgrims who visited the Holy Land during generations.
We may therefore say that this species is "well soaked" in
the local folklore as well as the ethno medicine of almost
all the ethnic groups living in the Land of Israel.
Botanists expert in the Bible are constantly engaged in a
great debate about what constitutes the "bramble" or
"thorns" (Judges 9; 14–15), "thorns" (Matthew 27:27–
Published: 28 September 2005
Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 2005, 1:8 doi:10.1186/1746-4269-1-8
Received: 28 August 2005
Accepted: 28 September 2005
This article is available from: http://www.ethnobiomed.com/content/1/1/8
© 2005 Dafni et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0
),
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Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 2005, 1:8 http://www.ethnobiomed.com/content/1/1/8
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29) and the "crown of thorn" (John 19:5). Based on local
traditions and old sources, today these citations are com-
monly deemed to refer to Z. spina-christi [5-7].
The Quran mentioned the tree twice (LIII: 13–18; LVI: 28–
32); the lote-tree is commonly identified as Z. spina-christi
[8] and accordingly this species is highly respected by the
Muslims through the Middle East. This tree has been
widely used as a fruit plant and as a medicinal plant since
antiquity and is still in use at present.
The aim of this paper is to review the current ethnobotan-
ical status of Z. spina-christi in Israel, based on our field
studies, in relation to historical and current literature.
Materials and methods
The field study (1999–2004) centered on Arabic villages
in Galilee. Informants were asked about the ritual impor-
tance of the plant, why it is respected, which parts are
used, and for what purposes. The survey covered 92
informants, consisting of 38 Druze, 54 Muslims (36 Arabs
and 18 Bedouins). The informants were mainly chosen
according to their knowledge of common traditions and/
or religious status. The average age of the informant was
56 years (+/-14 years). The respondents were 90 males
and two females (the women were interviewed in the
presence of other family members). The question asked
was: "What are the significance, uses, traditions, and sto-
ries you know about the Christ's Thorn Jujube?" Comple-
mentary questions on other trees were introduced only
after the informant had expressed his or her view.
The list of medicinal uses during the medieval period was
compiled from a survey of written medieval sources
[9,10]; the list of medicinal uses of present-day ethnic
groups in Israel is based on an ethnobotanical survey [11],
an ethnopharmacological survey [12], and other surveys
that have been conducted in the Middle East. Medicinal
uses mentioned by Palevitch et al. [11], which were
recorded only from one or two informants, were validated
in this survey.
The plant names
The plant is named sheisaf in Hebrew, and a few Bible
commentators have identified the tree with the "atad"
(Job 40:21–22), identified otherwise with Lycium sp.
[bramble, thorn bush, boxthorn], "n'atsuts", and even the
"tse'elym" [5,13].
In rabbinical literature, the plant is called rimin" (Mishna,
Demai, 1:1; Kilayim, 1:4), and in the Talmud it is called
"kanari" (Bab. Talmud, Baba Bathra, 48b). It may be that
it was so named because it is widespread around Lake Kin-
neret – the Sea of Galilee (Bab. Talmud, Mgillah, 6a).
Several common Arabic names are still in use today:
"nabq, dum, sidr, tsal, sadr [[14-16] and [17]]." Sidr" serves
as the common name for lotus jujube Z. lotus, which is
also named "rubeida" after its crouch-shaped treetop. The
names are used interchancheably in various geographical
areas such as Lower Galilee.
In Christian tradition the tree was identified with the
thorn bush with which Jesus was crowned before his cru-
cifixion (Matthew 27:28–29; John 19:5; Mark 15:17). This
is also the source for the scientific name (spina-christi).
The tree is rare in the vicinity of Jerusalem (A. Shmida,
personal communication 10 May 2004). But Henry Baker
Tristram wrote that he saw a tree in the Kidron valley, out-
side the city, albeit in the form of a small bush [18]. Tris-
tram gave both the Arabic and the scientific name; so
presumably, he was closely familiar with the species. The
debate over the identity of the "crown of thorns" in the
New Testament is long-lived, and various plants have
been suggested as candidates [6,7,19].
Islamic sources
The Qur'an says, "And verily he saw him yet another time.
By the lote-tree of the utmost boundary. Nigh unto which
is the Garden of Abode. When that which shroudeth did
enshroud the lote-tree. The eye turned not aside nor yet
was overbold. Verily he saw one of the Greater Signs reve-
lations of his Lord" (LIII: 13–18, Pickthall edition).
The only other reference to the lote-tree is in the sura of
the Event, namely the Day of Judgment, when those at
Allah's right hand, that is, the faithful, will dwell "among
thorn less lote-trees and clustered plantains, and spread-
ing shade, and water gushing, and fruit is plenty" (Qur'an,
LVI: 28–32, Pickthall edition).
Farooqi, in his book "Plants of the Qur'an" discusses at
length the different names of the Qur'an's lotus tree: he
suggests Z. spina-christi as an option, but on the other
hand Z. lotus and Z. spina-christi are wild plants in Arabia.
Another possibility he mentions is the Lebanon cedar
(Cedrus libani L.), which is also called "sidr in Arabic.
Farooqi concludes that the lotus tree of the Quran was
indeed the Lebanon cedar, and the historical misunder-
standing has perpetuated the mistaken name until the
present day [8].
The continuing debate regarding the lotus tree in the
Qur'an, not withstanding, the sacred tree found in the
Middle East called sidr, the name given in the Qu'ran, is
the Christ's Thorn Jujube (Ziziphus spina-christi).
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Table 1: Medicinal uses of Christ's Thorn Jujube
Illness/uses Parts and preparation Region/ethnic group
and reference
Historical references World references
Toothache, gum problems Rubbing the teeth/gums
with root powder (or bark)
Arabs, Bedouins [11]. Iraq [35]; Arabian peninsula
[37].
Arthritis Paste of crushed roots,
leaves or branches;
branches and leaves –
inhale steam
Arabs, Bedouins [11, 36]. Arabian peninsula [37].
Dhofar [38].
General painkiller Paste of crushed roots or
branches and flour is
applied
Arabs, Bedouins [11].
Anodyne Bark, leaves Iraq [35].
Muscle pains Branches and leaves –
inhale steam
Sinai and Negev Bedouins
[36, 39].
Soothe pains Leaves Yemenite Jews [40].
Bruises Fruit, leaves, seeds Arabian peninsula [37].
Dhofar [38].
Chest pains, asthma Fruit, leaves, seeds X Century [41]. Arabian peninsula [37].
Headache Fruit, leaves, seeds Arabian peninsula [37].
Dhofar [38].
Heart pains Branches Sinai and Negev Bedouins
[36, 39].
Eye inflammations Powder of seeds, green
leaves or roots as
cataplasm.
Arabs, Bedouins [11]; Iraqi
Jews [43].
Egypt (Bedouins) [42].
Stomach disorders: aches,
constipation, heartburn.
Decoction of seeds leaves
or fruit is drunk.
Arabs, Bedouins [11]. Ancient Egypt [2], (X
Century [41, 45].
Iraq [35]; Morocco, [42].
Iberian Peninsula, 13
th
century [46]. Dhofar [38].
Anthelmintic Fruit, seed or leaf infusion Arabs, Bedouins [11], Iraqi
Jews [43].
Morocco, [42].
Hemorrhoids Leaves Yemenite Jews [40]; Iraqi
Jews [43].
XIII Century [25].
Diarrhea Fruit or leaf infusion Sinai and Negev Bedouins
[36, 39], Yemenite Jews
[40]; Iraqi Jews [43].
Ancient Egypt [2], X
Century [41]; XIII [25].
Morocco, [42].
Increase milk production Leaves boiled and liquid
drunk
Sinai and Negev Bedouins
[36, 39].
Promoting pregnancy Fruit – tea Sinai and Negev Bedouins
[36, 39].
To ease prolonged labor Leaves boiled and liquid
drunk
Arabian peninsula [37].
Dhofar [38].
Wounds Application of fruit juice Iraqi Jews [43]; Arabs [11]. Ancient Egypt [2]. Dhofar [38].
Blisters Fruit, leaves, seeds Arabian peninsula [37].
Burns Fruit – crushed and boiled Iraqi Jews [43].
Skin diseases and disorders Boiled or crushed leaves,
resin
Iraqi Jews [43]. X Century [41]. Arabian peninsula [37].
Dhofar [38].
Abscesses and furuncles Cataplasm of boiled leaves Morocco, [42].
Lung, chest and pectoral
problems
Leaves or fruit Iraqi Jews [43]. Iraq [35]; Arabian peninsula
[37]; Iberian Peninsula, 13
th
century [46].
Blood purifier and tonic Leaves or fruit Yemenite Jews [40]. Ancient Egypt [2, 44]. Iraq [35]; Arabian peninsula
[37]; Dhofar [38];
High blood pressure Leaves Israel [47, 48]. Jordan [12].
Fractures Cataplasm of boiled leaves Arabian peninsula [37].
Emollient Fruit or leaf infusion Iraq [35]; Arabian peninsula
[37]; Morocco, [42].
Depurative Fruit Iraq [35].
Cooling Bark, leaves, fruit Ancient Egypt [2, 44]. Iraq [35].
Tonic Bark, leaves Ancient Egypt [2]. Iraq [35].
Stomachic Bark, leaves, fruit Ancient Egypt [2, 44]. Iraq [35].
Measles Fruit infusion Morocco [42].
Febrifuge Fruit infusion, resin X Century [41]. Morocco [42].
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Christ's Thorn Jujube in the medieval Levantine literature
Muslim as well as Christian pilgrims and travelers have
described Z. spina-christi as a large tree that grew in the
Land of Israel. The tree was usually recorded for its uses
and as a symbol of holiness [13]. The pilgrims took
branches of the tree back to their homeland as souvenirs
in the belief that the Jesus's crown of thorns was made
from such branches [20,21]. Estori ha-Parhi, for example,
who visited the Land of Israel during the Mamluk period
(13
th
–16
th
centuries), wrote that the "rimin" is the "nabaq"
in the language of Egypt and "dum" in the land of Canaan,
and is also the tree named "sidar" [22].
In medieval medical literature the jujube appears fre-
quently under various names, such as "sidar" or "tsal",
while the fruit is called "nabaq" or dum" [14,23].
Clear-cut evidence of the medicinal uses and the eco-
nomic value of the tree in the Land of Israel during the
medieval period are found in Temple Mount documents:
sidar features in a list of medicinal substances sold by the
"atarin" (medicine vendors) in the markets of Jerusalem
during the Mamluk period [24].
Al-Qazwini cites earlier authorities in stating that if the
seeds are soaked in rose water and than planted, the fruits
of the future tree will smell like roses. Similarly, if soaked
in honey and milk, the future fruits will be sweeter and
better [25].
In the past, various species of jujube grew in the Land of
Israel that bore excellent fruit [26]. Al-Muqaddasi lists the
tree among the widespread crops cultivated in the district
of Falastin [27], and it was a popular food among the
inhabitants of Tiberias [27]. Another source notes that the
women of Egypt and the al-Sham region [Levant] used to
comb their hair with the "sidar" [28].
Christ's Thorn Jujube as a useful plant in present day Levant
The fresh and the dried fruits of the plant are edible and
highly valued locally by Arabs as well as Bedouins [17,29-
32]. Bedouins collect and dry the fruits for future use in
the winter, making a thick paste to be used as bread [17],
a practice known already in ancient Egypt [2]. Z. lotus L. is
similarly used in Cyprus [33] and in Arabia [34].
The wood is heavy and durable, and serves for artistic
woodwork, while the branches and trunk are used as fire-
wood and high quality charcoal [17,30-32].
Ethnopharmacology of Christ's Thorn Jujube
The tree and its various parts have been an important
source for pharmaceuticals since antiquity. Data on the
medicinal uses of the plant are presented here in Table 1.
Christ's Thorn Jujube as a sacred tree
An old Muslim legend tells about a Christ's Thorn Jujube
that grows in Paradise and has leaves as many as there are
human beings. Each leaf bears the names of a particular
person and his or her parents. Every year, one day in the
middle of the month of Ramadan, just after sunset, the
tree is shaken. The names on the leaves that fall are of
those who face death in the coming year. The process of
the leaves' decay intimates the timing of their death; some
leaves dry up and fall immediately while others wither
slowly, signifying the time the person has left [51-53].
This legend reflects the respect in which Muslims hold all
Christ's Thorn Jujube trees, wherever they are. No wonder
that the tree has received so much attention in Arab folk-
Snake bites Wood ash in vinegar Leaves for bee or wasp
stings, XIIIth century [49].
Morocco [42].
Astringent Leaf infusion Morocco [42]; Iraq [35].
Hair problems Liquid from branches, fruit,
leaves, seeds, resin.
Arabs [11]; Iraqi Jews [43]. X Century [41]; XIII
Century [25].
Southwestern Saudi Arabia
[50]; Arabian peninsula
[37]. Dhofar [38].
Infant's powder Powdered leaves Yemen [37].
Colds Fruit Israel [47, 48]. Jordan [12].
Weight reduction Fruit Israel [47, 48]. Jordan [12].
Nervousness Branches and leaves Negev [36].
Swollen organs Fruit Ancient Egypt [2].
Diuretic Wood Ancient Egypt [2].
Liver problems Fruits Ancient Egypt [2].
Anus problems Fruits Coptic Egyptian Medicine
[2].
Table 1: Medicinal uses of Christ's Thorn Jujube (Continued)
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lore in the Land of Israel in the past, and continues to do
so to the present day.
The Christ's Thorn Jujube is considered a sacred tree in
Israel. When the tree reaches its 40 th year, the saints sit
under it; therefore, the saints will destroy anyone who
dares to cut down the tree or one of its branches. One
story tells that "every Thursday evening the music of some
instrument could be heard coming from some Christ's
Thorn Jujube trees. Another story told and recorded in the
Holy Land relates that lights were seen every Thursday
night among the branches of few trees near "N'an'a"
(Na'an) and 'Aqir" ('Aqron) [54,55].
The presence of saints under Christ's Thorn Jujube trees
imparted their holiness to the tree, as happens with other
species of trees. However, no other tree species are men-
tioned in the Holy Land as preferred by the saints.
Goldziher [56] sheds light on the importance and the
great honor the Christ's Thorn Jujube has among the Arab
population in the Holy Land. He cites the Abbé Barges
[57] who described a large tree that grew in the garden of
an Arab's house in Jaffa. This tree was treated with a spe-
cial reverence by the local Muslims, who would hang
colored cloths and lamps on it. The owner of the tree
explained this kind of worship as the belief that the seeds
from which the tree grew had fallen from the sky so the
tree was sacred to the Prophet, who visited it at night. He
added that all "good Muslims honored the tree". We
assume that it was a Christ's Thorn Jujube since cloths and
lamps were hung on its branches (Z. lotus is too low for
this purpose), furthermore, Jaffa is far from the natural
habitat of the lotus jujube.
We recorded a similar story in Kabul, a village in Western
Galilee: "Lamps were lit every Thursday evening among
the branches of the big Christ's Thorn Jujube tree which
was in the village. Then the Sufi dervishes held their zikr
ceremony (a special Sufic dance meeting) under this tree.
They gathered there from various villages thereabouts,
and the tree had its own sheikhs, who were not known in
our village. The villagers were afraid to approach the tree,
except for one old lady who would bring food and meat
for the dervishes, as a gift from the local folk. The tree
stood in the village until the 1950s (AĦmad Ţaha
Ya
¯
sīn, Kabūl, 6 June 2004).
At times Christ's Thorn Jujube trees were used to mark the
borders between estates of neighboring villages according
to the common belief that the fence around Paradise was
build of the wood of Christ's Thorn Jujube [55].
The special attitude to the Christ's Thorn Jujube in the
Holy Land can be summarized and explained as the tradi-
tional belief that the tree should be esteemed and
respected since it was probably the host of certain saints or
other spirits [17]. In the words of Ţa
¯
hir 'Abu 'Antar
(Ţamra, 14 June 2004), "The sidr tree is like a sheikh", and
you have to pay it respect as you would elderly people.
In modern Islam, sitting under a Christ's Thorn Christ's
thorn Jujube tree is considered lucky, since the Prophet
saw such tree in Paradise [58]. This idea might underlie
the traditional belief that a potion made of Christ's Thorn
Jujube leafs is the best supernatural remedy to expel
demons ('Ădil Abu Hamīd and Ibra
¯
hīm
QadaĦ, Kufr Manda, 3 June 2004; Abu Amīn
Xa
¯
ldi, Xawa
¯
lid, 26 August 2004; Sa
¯
mya Ha
¯
di, Mazra'a, 24
August 2004, MaĦmūd Zir'ēni, 22 November 2004,
Tur'a
¯
n).
In the village of Mġa
¯
r several informants were recorded
commenting on the fruit of two sacred Christ's Thorn
Jujube trees, named after Sheikh Rabīs and Nabi
Shu'eib: "You will never find worms [in the fruit of these
two trees], as you do in the fruit of other similar trees"
(i.e., of this species). This was due to the sacredness of
these two trees, which were blessed (Muhra Bahaja
¯
t,
Qa
¯
sim Fa
¯
dhil, Şalah Fa
¯
dhil, Mġa
¯
r, 19 May 2001). Accord-
ing to another informant (Ġa
¯
sam MuĦammad 'uqabi,
Ţūba-Zanġariyya, 16 June 2004), "The fruit of the Christ's
Thorn Jujube was eaten by Muslim fighters of the early
Islamic period; therefore the tree is honored and may not
be uprooted".
It is common, then, to find Christ's Thorn Jujube trees
serving as sacred trees in many villages and at sheikhs'
graves all over the Holy Land, but mainly in Upper Galilee
(Sheikh Rabīs and Nabi Shu'eib, Mġa
¯
r, Rabbi
Avdimi grave in Haifa (cut at 2003), Sakhnīn,
Sheikh Radwa
¯
n near Nahariya, Sajara
¯
t al-'Arūsa near
Ka
¯
bri).
In the Negev, barren women had to make a pilgrimage to
a sacred Christ's Thorn Jujube [36].
Christ's Thorn Jujube proverbs
Demons (genies) avoid the Christ's Thorn Jujube tree
because of its sanctity, and this precisely is why it is
"good" to sleep under it (MuSţafa Kamirat, Ibtin, 13 Jan-
uary 2003; Ibra
¯
hīm QadaĦ, Kufr Manda, and 3
June 2004; 'Ali Sulayma
¯
n Xuţba, 'Arra
¯
be, 6. June 2004;
Yusuf Nimmr Masar, Sakhnīn 1 January 2005).
The following Arab proverb signifies that Christ's Thorn is
blessed while the Carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua L.) is con-
sidered cursed: "innōm biĦlu taĦt iddōm, innōma taĦt
ilxarrūbe mush marghūbe", which means "the sleep
under Christ's Thorn Jujube tree is sweet and the sleep
under Carob tree is not desirable" [59] and thirteen
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informants in our survey. The Carob tree is associated
with a bad luck, and sitting under it is considered danger-
ous, especially at night since the tree is a dwelling place for
bad spirits. The red color of the leaf petioles, which resem-
bles blood, is a sign of bad luck as well [17].
One explanation for why the Carob is cursed is this:
"There is always a chance of finding a snake in the trunk
and therefore you may not sleep under it; bees dwell in its
trunk and branches as well" ('Ali Khalil Musa Kna'ane,
'Arra
¯
be, 6 June 2004; 'Ali Sulayma
¯
n Xuţba, 'Arra
¯
be, 6 June
2004: Yusuf Nimmr Miser, Sakhnīn 1 January
2005). Another informant, Ibra
¯
hīm QadaĦ
(Kufr Manda, 3 June 2004), added more information
regarding the dangers sleeping under the Carob tree: "The
demons gather under Carob trees and every once in a
while God punishes them by striking them with lightning.
These trees are big, and attract lightning anyway". Other
informants reported that snakes and demons like the
Carob tree, and therefore it is cursed; people who slept
under this tree went mad (Atef Mansur, Kaukab Abu-el-
Heija, 13 May 2003; Hassan Jadir, Bir El Maksur, 30
December 2003; Nassr Khalil, Sakhnīn, 1 Janu-
ary 2005). One informant recounted "The Carob is a bad
tree, the snakes that dwell in its branches hurt people.
However, snakes that dwell in the Christ's Thorn Jujube
will never harm a human being" (Sa
¯
mya Hadi (Mazra'a,
24 August 2004). Because of their black color, the Fig tree
and the Carob tree are both considered cursed and the
cause of misfortune [54]. The following proverb expresses
this feeling: " Xarrūbe wa ttīn – maskanat
iššayaţīn", means "Carob and Fig tree – (are)
Satan's residency" (Abu-Amin Xa
¯
ldi, Xawa
¯
lid, 26 August
2004; 'Ali Khalil Musa Kna'ane, 'Arra
¯
be 6 June 2004).
Canaan likewise explains that both trees (Carob and Fig)
bear black fruits, and they are the preferred dwelling
places of demons. The genies gather under them for their
meetings and nightly parades [59].
Additional explanations of why it is "good" under the
Christ's Thorn Jujube are these: "The Christ's Thorn Jujube
is a tree from heaven and therefore it is good to sleep
under it" (MuHammad Ţa
¯
her, Rumma
¯
na, 22 November
2004; Abu-Razz, Bu'eina-Nujeida
¯
t, 16 August 2004; Yusuf
Nimr Masar, Sakhnīn 1 January 2005); "In arid
zones the Christ's Thorn Jujube is the only shady tree and
therefore it deserves a special attitude" (Raja
Xaţīb, Deir Ħanna, 2 August 2004).
Christ's Thorn Jujube and animism
Special honor is given to the Christ's Thorn Jujube in Iraq,
even more than to the Palm. Uprooting of a tree that has
already fallen is considered a sign of impending disaster;
should a man cut down a Christ's Thorn Jujube tree, he
will soon fall ill and die. The tree is thought to groan when
it cut and its sap, red as blood, gushes out of the slashed
trunk, justifying the idea that the tree has a life similar to
a human's [60].
The belief that blood flows from trees organs has ancient
roots. Ovid [61] tells of Erysichthon, king of Thrace, who
commanded that a sacred oak tree dedicated to Demeter
be cut down. The appeal of the Dryad that lived in the tree
was in vain. The tree was chopped down, and she was
doomed to die with the demise of her abode; Demeter's
revenge was immediate and singularly cruel. The king was
condemned to an eternal unsatisfied hunger.
The tradition of regarding the punishment of whoever
touches a sacred tree universal, and it has been one of the
main characteristics of tree worship throughout history.
Stories about groaning or bleeding trees are common [62-
64].
Among the Bedouins of the Negev (southern Israel), a
similar tradition is known: the red sap drops that flow out
of Christ's Thorn Jujube trees gives them a human essence
because of its resemblance to blood. It is a short step from
these phenomena to tree worship, animism and the wor-
ship of the saint's spirit that dwells in the tree [65].
The old people of Mġa
¯
r used to tell about the Christ's
Thorn Jujube tree of Nabi Shu'eib (see above) that bled
when it was cut; the children of the village, being skepti-
cal, would make small cuts in the tree to see if it really
would bleed ('Issa Sakra
¯
n, Mġa
¯
r, 16 June 2004).
A similar story explaining the sacredness of Christ's Thorn
Jujube tree was told in the Negev in 1977:
"In a place where we used to live a long time ago, in the
southern part of Israel, there was one Christ's Thorn
Jujube tree (sidr) under which stains of red sap, similar to
blood, were found every morning... The women would
hang white pieces of cloths on [the tree], the men did not
cut it, and the tree grew to be a very big, even bigger than
the tent we sit in". The sacredness of the tree gushes from
the presence of the spirits of the dead people that dwell
there. The tradition is that Christ's Thorn Jujube trees are
sacred wherever they are... The Bedouins' explanation for
this phenomenon usually concerns the holy man or holy
people that dwell in or under the tree [65].
In Morocco a story was recorded about a tree named after
Sides Bumhadi. A man climbed up it to cut some
branches, and a copious flow of blood, as if fifty bulls had
been slaughtered, came out of the tree. The terrified man
jumped down and stayed there stunned [66].
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In Iraq women occasionally visited Christ's Thorn Jujube
trees. They lit straw torches under the tree and put incense
on charcoal. Before departing they would leave four
lighted candles on the ashes. This ceremony was to heal
sick family members [60].
Lighting candles and other ceremonies for healing people
are typical to tree worship in the Muslim and the Christian
world alike, among the different ethnic groups in Israel
(our observations), and all over the world [67,68].
As part of the ceremonies in Iraq, green clothing were
hung on the branches of the Christ's Thorn Jujube tree,
and sometimes even offerings of food were left under it
[60].
The custom of hanging clothes on trees in general and
sacred trees in particular is world-wide. The idea is that the
disease is transferred from the sick person's clothes to the
tree [69]. Green clothes are used especially in the Muslim
world, because the color green is sacred in Islam [70].
Other evidence of respect for Christ's Thorn Jujube trees in
Islam is the following custom. In Iran [52], Iraq [60],
India [71], and southwestern Saudi Arabia [50] the bodies
of dead Muslims were washed with water in which
Christ's Thorn Jujube leaves had been soaked. The pur-
pose was to preserve the body and satisfy the angels [52].
A similar usage was recorded in Israel by one informant
[11], and others described this as custom that was prac-
ticed in Israel in the past, and although rarely, even today
('Ădil Abu Ħamīd and Ibra
¯
hīm QadaĦ,
Kufr Manda, 3 June 2004; Abu Ra
¯
zi, Bu'eina-Nujeida
¯
t, 16
August 2004; Sheikh AĦmad Abu 'Umar, Mjd ilKrūm, 28
June 2004).
Customs related to the tree
The grave of Sheikh Şala
¯
Ħ, which is in the old Muslim
cemetery 400 meters east of the al-Jazza
¯
r Mosque in Acre
(Jehoshafat Street), is prominent mainly because of its
green domed roof. Ten meters south of the building a
huge Christ's Thorn Jujube tree once grew. Its trunk was a
meter in diameter and the tree shaded many graves. But its
roots caused damage to a few graves so it was cut down at
April 2000. Many iron nails were found on the cut trunk,
arranged in groups of three. Ma
¯
hir Zahra (Acre, 12 April
2002), a researcher on the history of Acre, described and
explained this phenomena:
"Women who felt the need to break an evil eye spell
would conduct the following ceremony. The woman
would come purified, a few days after her period, on Fri-
day early morning before the call of the muezzin, and
approach the tree. She was not allowed to talk to anybody
from the time she had awoken that day. She had to wait
near the Christ's Thorn Jujube tree with an hammer and
nails; after each call of 'Allahu 'akbar, she had to drive a
nail into the tree – three times in all".
In this cemetery the sounds from the Mosque were heard
very well. The nails were hammered into exorcise the
woman or one of her family members of the evil eye. She
had to remain quiet and was not allowed to talk all the
way back home. Then she had to wash again and purify
herself and go to sleep.
This tradition has to do with the Suffis who arrived in Acre
at the beginning of the 18
th
century from North Africa. The
citizens of Acre have known of the tree and the nails tradi-
tion since the middle of the 18
th
century. According to
'Araf [72], "Such nails can be seen in many other old trees
found near saints' graves, or sacred trees, such as the trunk
of the tree in the Druze village Jat in the upper Galilee.
This tree is named Sajarat Abu 'Arus. Yet when we visited
this specific tree (April 2003) we found no nails in it at all!
Occasionally nails were seen in the trunks of sacred trees,
but these were usually species of oak and the nails did not
appear in triplets.
Similar customs have been recorded in other countries in
the Middle East, India, and Europe [62,64,73-75].
Old women in the village of Ţamra, Western Galilee, used
to tell of a custom of hammering nails into big old olive
trees to protect against the evil eye. They called them
"nails in the eye of the devil" (AĦmad Ţaha
Ya
¯
sīn, Kabūl, 14 June 2004).
The purpose of this custom was twofold: to "stick" some-
one to the sacredness by attaching him or her to the pow-
ers of the tree and to expel demons with the tree's help
('Ădil Abu Ħamīd. Kufr Manda, 3 June 2004).
An interesting piece of medieval evidence of a similar cus-
tom appears in the Cairo Genizah (14
th
century): "Beauti-
ful trees around the grave, they smell good and nails are
stuck in them" [76].
Hammering nails and hanging cloths are "tying" rituals,
whereby the person seeks healing or a solution to prob-
lems by transferring his or her illness or problems to the
tree, or to whatever object the cloths are hung on or nails
hammered into. Such "tying" is one of the best known
and commonest belief practices all over the world among
Christians, as well as among Muslims and their predeces-
sors in the Middle East [53,64,70,77]. This tradition still
exists today in Europe (Belgium) [78]. In Egypt, nails
driven into tree trunks signify the prayers of the believers.
People come to sheikhs' trees to be cured of headache or
other ailments. In asking the sheikh for help they hammer
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nails into the trunk and wind some of their hair around
the nails [79]. A ceremony of this kind was recorded at
sacred graves in Turkey [64].
In England (Cornwall) and Germany (Oldenburg),
believers used to hammer nails into tree trunks "where the
sun cannot reach" to heal toothache [80]. Variations of
this were seen in Nepal and India (Samir Ţafiš, Beit Jan,
18 March 2002) and in Turkey [64,81].
In India the Emetic nut tree (Strychnos nux-vomica L.) is
considered the prison of all demons. Occasionally such
trees can be seen with trunks full of nails as a precaution
against demons. If a demon or bad spirit dares to attack a
human, the exorcist forces it back into the tree with a nail.
With each driven nail the demon declares that it will not
attack again. Nailing the demon into the tree trunk is the
best way to give it a life sentence [82,83].
Sacred trees in the West Himalayan region are the object
of a similar custom: travelers hammer nails into the trunk
when passing by as a protective step against diseases,
death, and any damage to their sheep, cattle, or crops. The
explanation for this act, according to traditional beliefs, is
that it dispels evil powers [84].
A square in central Vienna is named "Stock am Eisen",
which means literally "iron on the stick". A glass case
stands on one of the corners of the square containing a
replica of a piece of wood in which some nails are stuck.
A known tradition from the 16
th
century tells that any
apprentice who completed his duties in the town would
hammer a nail into a tree that grew in the square for good
luck [73,85]. Some are of the opinion that this was a gypsy
tradition introduced from India [74].
Returning to Acre, cutting down the "nails tree" in the city
apparently entailed the sad result of the extinguishing a
unique and rare custom in Israel. This ritual in Israel and
many others concern sacred trees, were evidently a link in
the cultural chain between India and Europe.
"Holy" vs. "Sacred" trees
Simmons [86] distinguishes tree rituals wherein a certain
species of tree is considered holy, as in the case of the
sacred fig [Bo tree] (Ficus religiosa L.), from ritual in which
individual trees are sacred because of special characteris-
tics or have won respect through their location in a holy
place or their association with a holy person [86].
The veneration of trees in Israel mainly stems from events
with saints that occurred near them, so different tree spe-
cies, were sanctified. In Iraq, by contrast, the Christ's
Thorn Jujube tree is worshiped because this tree is men-
tioned in the Qur'an.
Most trees belong to the first group above, so their botan-
ical species is not relevant. We apply the adjective "sacred"
to these trees; we use the epithet "holy" for trees that have
gained special respect because their botanical species is
part of a religious ritual.
As far as we know, in the Land of Israel, all known
admired trees are "sacred", having won honor because of
their physical location near saint's graves or their connec-
tion to the deeds of religious, military, or other admired
figures [64,79,87]. We are not aware of any "holy" trees.
One citation we recorded from an informant sums up the
matter: "The sacred trees are the tombstones – the
memento of a saint or holy man, so their importance is
relative to the man holiness. The holier the saint, the more
sacred the tree" (Sa'īd MaĦamūd, Ya
¯
nuĦ, 25
May 2003).
Another explanation we recorded has this variation:
"Blessed trees are memorials to unique figures in the
Druze history and religion; because the Druze tradition
forbids any tomb sign or offerings, special people are
remembered by big sacred trees" (Sheikh Ša
¯
hīn
Ħusayn, Beit Jan, 12 September 03).
Christ's Thorn Jujube tree in the Druze tradition
Among the Druze, "sacred" trees are called "blessed"
because according to their tradition only humans can be
sacred. However, sacred figures can transfer some of their
special powers to a tree. God's blessing is thought pass to
the holy man and is then transferred to the blessed tree
[70].
The holiness of the Christ's Thorn Jujube tree among the
Druze is a tradition beginning in Islam (it is the tree of the
seventh heaven). When the prophet ascended to Paradise
he reached the seventh heaven and the last tree, named
"Sidrat al-Muntaha" (the sidr tree of the last frontier).
The Druze argues that the last Christ's Thorn Jujube tree
symbolizes a certain figure and the story is about an imag-
inary spiritual trip in which the "sidr signifies an impor-
tant and admired figure (Şala
¯
Ħ Xaţīb, Mġa
¯
r, 4
October 2003).
On the main road to Nabi Shu'eib, one of the holiest
places for Druze in Israel (believed to be the grave of the
prophet Jethro); there is a huge Christ's Thorn Jujube tree.
In the past this important tree served as a meeting point
for pilgrims before approaching the holy place. Whoever
arrived first waited for the others under that tree. Over the
years the tradition of the first meeting point took root,
and the tree became a station for praying as well. When
the pilgrims reached the tree they became very excited,
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and this is how the tree was named "Sidrat Nebi Shu'eib"
(Abu Jala
¯
l Qizl, Şala
¯
Ħ Xatib and 'Ali 'Araydi, Mġa
¯
r, 19 May
2001). The tale says that this tree grew out of a runner of
a Christ's Thorn Jujube tree named "Sheikh Rabis (a huge
"blessed" Christ's Thorn Jujube tree that grows in the mid-
dle of Mġa
¯
r, two kilometers away from this tree). The
person Sheikh Rabis (to whom the tree is dedicated) was
a Muslim, but Druze's and Christians admire him as well.
One informant explained: "As the Druzes came out of
Islam, the Druzes' blessed tree came out of the Muslim
one" (Şala
¯
Ħ Xaţīb, Mġa
¯
r, 4 October 2003).
Conclusion
The Christ's Thorn Jujube tree is widespread in various
parts of the Land of Israel. In fact, its distribution is very
broad and goes beyond desert areas. It also grows along
the coastal plain and around Jerusalem. Throughout his-
tory, but mainly in the Middle Ages, the tree was seen as
sacred [74] and was used for food [27]. Evidence of
medicinal use of the Christ's Thorn Jujube in our region is
very rare; we were able to trace one source, a list of sub-
stances sold in Jerusalem by medicine vendors in the
Mamluk period (14
th
–15
th
century) [24]. The current
medicinal uses in Israel are the same as in other parts of
the Middle East (Table 1). We are unable to show any
indication that some uses are endemic or more prevalent
in one or another ethnic group.
Tree worship is deeply rooted in human culture and atti-
tudes to the Christ's Thorn Jujube are a good example of
these traditions. Eliade has taught us about the important
religious role these trees play in different cultures. In
almost every culture trees are presented as symbols of life,
ongoing fertility and eternity, as well as resurrection. Trees
are not admired for themselves, but because of what was
discovered through them, what they symbolized and
expressed [89]. Canaan puts a similar argument: "The vil-
lagers (of the Holy Land) do not admire the trees, but the
divine powers acting through them and derived from the
imaginary figure of God, which his soul is probably still in
a temple, cave or spring to which the trees are connected.
Occasionally the holy man is revealed in a tree or around
it" [59].
Frese and Gray [90] emphasize that trees are an embodi-
ment of nature, which represents the holy continuity of
spiritual worlds, cosmic as well as physical. The tree some-
times symbolizes divinity or another holy entity or even a
holy object.
Tree worship was prevalent in pre-Islamic pagan Arabia.
Trees were frequently considered the abode of genies. The
pagan Arabs associated divine characteristics with certain
trees and worshiped them through special rituals, which
included the hanging of colored cloths, ornaments, and
weapons on their branches [58,91,92].
When the new religion of Islam evolved a war of annihi-
lation was waged between the new Muslims and the
pagans. This war involved the cutting down of sacred trees
by the Muslims and strict prohibition against any form of
tree worship [52,56].
This short review shows that tree worship prevailed in Ara-
bia in the pre-Islamic period. Despite the battle against
the pagan practice, some of the ancient rituals survived
and still prevail in the Middle East [70].
The Christ's Thorn Jujube tree won unique honor because
of a mention in the Qur'an; however, this species enjoys
no special significance, botanical uniqueness, or excep-
tional size (compared with the great oak trees in Europe)
which form the basis for tree worship in pagan Europe,
including the Greek and Roman cultures) [93,94].
Most of the known traditions and rituals that were
recorded in relation to the Christ's Thorn Jujube in the
Middle East, such as candle lighting, incense burning,
cloth hanging, and nail hammering, are known to be part
of worshiping sacred trees in Israel and around the world.
A similar case is the supernatural powers of the sacred tree
and the fear of punishment as a result of cutting down the
tree or dishonoring it. These customs do not relate to a
particular tree species and are not found in Islamic lands
alone.
The supernatural qualities attributed to the Christ's Thorn
Jujube, such as blood flowing in its veins, sounds it makes
when it is cut, and its being the abode of a saint's spirit or
ancestors, are well documented in the literature of sacred
trees.
The custom of washing the dead with leaves of the Christ's
Thorn Jujube seems unique to this species and to Islam;
we could not trace any similar custom elsewhere. We
would like to suggest that this might be evidence of the
uniqueness of the Christ's Thorn Jujube tree.
In light of the distinction between "holy" and "sacred"
trees, we maintain that the Christ's Thorn Jujube is the
closest species to a holy tree in Israel and the Middle East,
as well as being a sacred tree. The holiness originated with
the citation in the Qur'an, and the sacredness arose from
events in the lives of saints, heroes, and holy men that
happened near the trees.
Acknowledgements
The authors express their deepest thanks to Prof. Simcha Lev-Yadoon,
Prof. Peter Bernhardt and Dr. Idit Pintel-Ginsburg for their critical com-
Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 2005, 1:8 http://www.ethnobiomed.com/content/1/1/8
Page 10 of 11
(page number not for citation purposes)
ments, to Moris Zemach for translations and Dr. Aharon Geva for the Ara-
bic transcriptions.
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... Referred to throughout history by many cultures and religions as a sacred or holy tree, Christ's thorn has also traditionally been used in medicine, carpentry and as a source of food 6 . The plant is used for its soothing properties and the essential oil of the leaves is used in perfumery 7,8 . It has been used in various ethnomedical practices across the globe for the treatment of ailments such as ulcers, wounds, skin diseases, eye diseases, bronchitis, etc. ...
... The presence of oils detected in the leaves of both species showed that Z. abyssinica can also be employed in cosmetic and perfumery uses like Z. spina-christi. The use of volatile constituents of Z. spinachristi in soothing effect and perfumery has been documented by an earlier study 7,18 . The similarity in the types of secondary metabolites found in both plants shows affinity among the two species and could also serve as a chemotaxonomic tool. ...
... Various parts of the Ziziphus are traditionally utilized to treat several health conditions ranging from pains in abdomen, to diarrhea, diabetes and skin burns (Hammiche and Maiza, 2006). Hence, it has been considered as an important source for pharmaceuticals for a long time (Dafni et al., 2005). Ziziphus has been exploited in folk medicine as an emollient and used as a mouthwash (Nazif, 2002). ...
Article
Industrial processes generate toxic organic molecules that pollute environment water. Phenol and its derivative are classified among the major pollutant compounds found in water. They are naturally found in some industrial wastewater effluents. The removal of phenol compounds is therefore essential because they are responsible for severe organ damage if they exist above certain limits. In this study, ground Ziziphus leaves were utilized as adsorbents for phenolic compounds from synthetic wastewater samples. Several experiments were performed to study the effect of several conditions on the capacity of the Ziziphus leaves adsorbent, namely: the initial phenol concentration, the adsorbent concentration, temperature, pH value, and the presence of foreign salts (NaCl and KCl). The experimental results indicated that the adsorption process reached equilibrium in about 4 hours. A drop in the amount of phenol removal, especially at higher initial concentration, was noticed upon increasing the temperature from 25 to 45oC. This reflects the exothermic nature of the adsorption process. This was also confirmed by the calculated negative enthalpy of adsorption (-64.8 kJ/mol). A pH of 6 was found to be the optimum value at which the highest phenol removal occurred with around 15 mg/g at 25oC for an initial concentration of 200 ppm. The presence of foreign salts has negatively affected the phenol adsorption process. The fitting of the experimental data, using different adsorption isotherms, indicated that the Harkins-Jura isotherm model was the best fit, evident by the high square of the correlation coefficient (R2) values greater than 0.96. The kinetic study revealed that the adsorption was represented by a pseudo-second-order reaction. The results of this study offer a basis to use Ziziphus leaves as promising adsorbents for efficient phenol removal from wastewater.
... The process involves experimental testing and evaluation of the species through a feedback process between the scientific, forest managerial, and the community stakeholders Table 1 Origin, classification, and traditional uses of five Ziziphus species. Summarized from : Ackerman 1961;Singh 1963;Vashishtha 1997;Danin 1992Danin , 2001Mizrahi and Nerd 1996;Pareek 2001;Outlaw et al. 2002;Abu-Hamdah et al. 2005;Dafni et al. 2005;Azam-Ali et al. 2006;Saied et al. 2008;Keasar and Shmida 2009;Tel-Zur and Schneider 2009;Pandey et al. 2010;Maraghni et al. 2014 soil fertility may, in turn, result in increased herbaceous biomass and species richness under the canopy (Tessema and Belay 2017). Thus, planting these species mixed with other dryland afforestation species is expected to promote multifunctionality by combining drought resistance with livelihood support. ...
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Key message We propose a silvicultural-ecological, participatory-based, conceptual framework to optimize the socioeconomic-ecological services provided by dryland afforestation, i.e. addressing the limited resources in arid areas while minimizing the harm to the environment. The framework applies the following criteria to select multifunctional tree species: (a) drought resistance, (b) minimal disruption of ecosystem integrity, and (c) maximization of ecosystem services, including supporting community livelihoods. Context Dryland afforestation projects frequently aim to combine multiple ecological and economic benefits. Nevertheless, plant species for such projects are selected mainly to withstand aridity, while other important characteristics are neglected. This approach has resulted in planted forests that are drought-resistant, yet harm the natural ecosystem and provide inadequate ecosystem services for humans. Aims We suggest a comprehensive framework for species selection for dryland afforestation that would increase, rather than disrupt, ecological and socio-economic services. Methods To formulate a synthesis, we review and analyze past and current afforestation policies and the socio-ecological crises ensuing from them. Results To increase afforestation services and to support human-community needs, both native and non-native woody species should be considered. The framework suggests experimental testing of candidate species for their compliance with the suggested species selection criteria. Furthermore, regional stakeholders are involved in evaluating, ranking, and prioritizing the candidate species according to experimental results and stakeholders’ values and needs. We exemplify our approach by describing our ongoing research project, aimed to evaluate several native and exotic Ziziphus species in the Middle East region. Conclusion The employment of our proposed framework forms a novel community of native and non-native woody species. We discuss the ecological context of this proposal.
... Christ's thorn jujube (Ziziphus spina-christi (L.) Desf. (family: Rhamnaceae) is thought to have originated from Sudan where it is known as Sidr (Arabic) and grows in various regions throughout the world, especially the tropics including Nigeria where it is called Kurna (Hausa, northern Nigeria) (Dafni et al. 2005;Abalaka et al. 2011). The genus Ziziphus consists of about 40 species of spiny shrubs and small trees in the buckthorn family (Adzu et al. 2003;Roger 2007). ...
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Ziziphus spina-christi has been studied for various bioactivities but reports of its toxicity remain scanty. This study investigated the phytochemical content and toxicity of aqueous-methanol extract of Z. spina-christi seeds on hepatic and renal tissues of Wistar rats. The extract was screened for the presence of phytochemicals and orally administered to rats at 200, 600 and 1000 mg/kg bwt for 2 weeks. Haematological parameters and markers of the liver and kidney functions were evaluated as well as histoarchitecture. Tannins, saponins, alkaloids, flavonoids, phenols and glycosides were detected in the extract which significantly (P < 0.05) reduced levels of white blood cells, neutrophils, serum aspartate aminotransferase, Cl⁻, urea and creatinine. The extract also induced significant (P < 0.05) elevations in the levels of lymphocytes, platelets, direct and total bilirubin, albumin, alanine aminotransferase, alkaline phosphatase, aspartate aminotransferase, serum Ca²⁺, creatinine, urea and organ-body weight ratios. The levels of red blood cells, haemoglobin, packed cell volume, mean corpuscular haemoglobin, mean corpuscular haemoglobin concentration, mean corpuscular volume, white blood cells, lymphocytes and neutrophils at 1000 mg/kg bwt, platelets at 200 mg/kg bwt, total protein, alkaline phosphatase at 200 mg/kg bwt, Na⁺ and K⁺ at all doses, as well as Ca²⁺ at 600 and 1000 mg/kg bwt were not significantly (P > 0.05) affected. The extract caused hepatic vascular congestion and fibrosis at 600 and 1000 mg/kg bwt with no visible histoarchitectural effect on the kidney. The extract therefore possesses hepatotoxic and nephrotoxic activities. Care must be taken in the consumption of this plant for folklore medicine.
... Decoction of the leaves of Ziziphus spina-christi is helpful in stomach problems. According to Dafni et al. (2005), Ziziphus spina-christi has historical, religious and pharmacological significance for Muslims, Jews and Christians in Israel. According to them, boiled leaves of the plant are effective in asthma, blood pressure and skin diseases, fruits are helpful to cure liver disorders while powder of the root is very useful for diabetic patient. ...
Article
This paper presents the first comprehensive report on traditional uses of medicinal shrubs of Rawalakot city, district Poonch, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan. Ethobotanical data obtained from 120 infor-mants were analyzed by relative frequency citation (RFC), use value (UV), family use value (FUV), informant consensus factor (ICF), fidelity level (FL) and Jaccard index (JI). In total, 41 shrubs belonging to 24 families and 34 genera were documented. Rosaceae was reported the most dominant family in the area (6 species) and Berberidaceae showed maximum family use value (0.68). Leaves (35%) and fruits (33%) were the most commonly used plant parts and most of the medicines were prepared in the form of decoction. The high ICF value (0.94) was recorded for diabetic disease category. Medicinal plants with high FL values (100% each) were Berberis lycium, Cydonia oblanga, Ricinus communis, Ziziphus jujuba and Nerium oleander. Berberis lycium was the most significant shrub in the area with highest use value (0.68). RFC value was maximum for Rubus ellipticus (0.30), Nerium oleander and Indigofera heterantha (0.10 each). Percentage of similar plant uses ranged from 21.05 to 0.62% and dissimilarity percentage ranged from 32.50 to 0.66%. Out of the 41 shrub species, 6 were reported with new therapeutic uses and may represent new bioresources. These were Debregeasia salicifolia (diabetes), Desmodium elegans (anti-cancerous), Hibis-cus rosa-sinensis (jaundice), Hypericum oblongifolium (arthritis), Sarcococca saligna (tuberculosis), Rubus niveus (chronic cough) and Otostegia limbata (renal disorders). We suggest that species reported with high use value should be involved in cultivation and agricultural practices for their sustainable use and those reported with new therapeutic uses should be employed in further biotechnological, pharmacological and clinical studies in order to validate their traditional uses.
... Additionally, the utilization of Ziziphus leaf as a medicinal herbal tea has been extensively reported (Brito et al., 2015;Damiano et al., 2017;Zhang et al., 2014). Ziziphus spina-christi (L.) (Christ's thorn jujube) is a thorny tree that commonly grows in the Middle East region and produces small sweet fruits reported that its leaf decoction can decrease nervousness, ease labor, increase milk production, regulate high blood pressure, and moreover exhibit analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects while its topical application can aid in some hair and skin conditions (Dafni, Levy, & Lev, 2005). Similarly in China, Ziziphus jujuba Mill. ...
Article
Ziziphus plants are well recognized for their nutritive and medicinal value worldwide, albeit their chemical profile has yet to be fully reported. The secondary metabolites profile of three traditionally used Ziziphus leaf accessions was investigated via ultra-high performance liquid chromatography coupled to photodiode array and electrospray ionization mass detectors (UHPLC/PDA/ESI-MS). A total of 102 metabolites were characterized revealing the first holistic approach onto Ziziphus leaf metabolome and to include the first report of several novel flavonoids and cyclopeptide alkaloids. Fragmentation pattern for cyclopeptide alkaloids was proposed via ESI-MS. Principal component analysis (PCA) revealed close metabolite resemblance among Z. spina-christi and Z. mauritiana leaf specimens found enriched in saponins and distinct from that of Z. jujuba in which quercetin-3-O-(2-pentosyl)-rhamnoside was most abundant. Further, in-vitro antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antidiabetic assays revealed for Z. spina-christi and Z. mauritiana strong effects compared to Z. jujuba and in correlation with their metabolites repertoire.
... ft), with shiny green leav which is about 5 cm long. The eaten fruit is a globose with a color of drupe is dark yellow, and 1-1.5 cm diameter [23] Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus Globu) Eucalyptus Globu is a various type of flowering trees and bushes in the myrtle family, Myrtaceae. Members of the type command the tree plant of Australia. ...
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Trees play a very important role in filter out the dust pollution, and other fine particles present in air by absorption or accumulation process. The tree species possessing higher dust escaping capacity has higher chances of survival in the polluted areas. This study indicates that evergreen plants with simple, rough, and fast growing trees are good dust arrestors. The study suggested a systematic way of selecting plant species on the basis of their efficiency in dust control (Callistemon , Casuarina equisetifolia, Ziziphus Lotus, and Eucalyptus Globu). The objective of the present study is to estimate the amount of deposition of particulate on the leaves surface of various species, and estimate the efficiency of four types of trees and to suggest the most suitable plant species foe plantation in dusty area. The results shown that the highest amount of dust deposited on the leaves of Casuarina equisetifolia (8.336 grams), then Callistemon tree (4.635 grams), while the Ziziphus Lotus tree was (2.291 grams), and the smallest amount of dust deposited on the Eucalyptus Globu tree (1.320 grams). The highest dust deposited on the all types of plants were in June, While the smallest amount of dust deposited in September.
... Plants always provided and will continue to provide directly applicable drugs as well as a wide variety of chemical compounds that can serve as a starting point for the synthesis of new drugs with improved pharmacological properties 12 . Dafni et al. 13 conducted a study on the ethnobotany of Ziziphus spina-christi in the Middle East on various aspects. Historically, religiously, philosophically, linguistically and pharmacologically, among Muslims, Jews and Christians, hinting that this is the only tree considered "Holly", in addition to the status of a "sacred tree" in the Muslims , It also has a special status as a "blessed tree" under Druze. ...
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Since time immemorial, man has been depending on Mother Nature for all his basic needs. The plant diversity existed around him always attracted his curiosity. Man's preliminary interest in plants started from his need for food, shelter and protection. Then he sought among them the remedies for injuries and diseases. In fact, medicine and botany always had strong and close connections as most of the modern medicines come from plant sources. Literature survey clearly reveals that the plant resources were cited around the globe for curing almost all the disease categories i.e. skin disorders, respiratory disorders, digestive disorders, urinary disorders, cardiac disorders, ophthalmic disorders, ear nose throat (ENT) disorders, excretory disorders, nervous disorders, immunity disorders, and so on. The orally exchanged customary information/knowledge is in hands of the elders, and most of it can vanish conveniently after their death because of which such imperative information leads towards depletion. The ethnic society resources like the folk asset in association with a nature of investigated and surveyed areas can be greatly conserved through documentation. The natural chemical compounds may be screened and isolated. Further, plants with therapeutic uses must be tested in studies by using those isolated natural compounds in the labs to screen and evaluate the plants' metabolites, that they are so applicable to the therapeutic use.
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This research article critically analyses the photographs and illustrations that have been used to support arguments about Omar Khadr. Khadr was a 15-year-old who was captured by the US in Afghanistan, transferred to Guantanamo Bay where he was charged with murder and submitted to US interrogation. Throughout this process both supporters and opponents of Khadr have used pictures to support their claims. By examining and discussing these images it is possible to detect biases and prejudices that attempt to sway and influence the reader to the particular ideology of the writers. The article studies in depth images both for, and against, Khadr. It shows the different, printing and illustrating techniques that add menace to existing photographs, or soften the image for a more peaceful approach. In particular, it subjects the image of Khadr’s damaged body being assisted by soldiers to a critical analysis to reveal what it really shows.
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The current study aims to synthesize silver nanoparticles using Ziziphus spina Christi (ZSC) or (Sidr) aqueous leaf extract collected from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The green synthesis of silver nanoparticles using sidr leaves extract was successful. Production of silver nanoparticles was confirmed through UV-vis Spectrophotometer, particles size and zeta potential analysis, Infra-red spectroscopy, Scanning, and Transmission Electron Microscope (SEM and TEM). The UV-visible spectra showed that the absorption peak existed at 400 nm. SEM analysis showed that the synthesized AgNPs were spherical but in slightly aggregated form. TEM demonstrated different size range of 4-33 nm with an average size of 13. The element analysis profile showed silver signal together with oxygen, calcium, and potassium peaks which might be related to the plant structure. Biological effects of the synthesized AgNPs exhibit satisfactory inhibitory effect against ten tested microorganisms. It inhibited the growth of 5 gram-positive and five gram-negative bacteria. Moreover, AgNPs demonstrated a synergistic effect on the neurotoxicity induced in rat pups with orally administered methyl mercury (MeHg). The present study showed that AgNPs prepared from ZSC might be a promising antimicrobial agent for successful treatment of bacterial infection in intensive care units (ICU) especially in case of antibiotic resistance.
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A field study to survey the custom of tying rags on sacred trees in the northern part of Israel was carried out during 2000–2001. It included 60 interviewees: 24 Druze, 18 Moslem Arabs, 12 Moslem Bedouins and 6 Christian Arab individuals. Tree veneration was found to be quite uncommon among the Bedouins and rare among the Christian Arabs. The results of the present study suggest there are 17 reasons for tying rags on sacred trees. Five reasons, as far as the author is aware, were not previously reported from the literature (i.e., breaking an oath, marking a blessed tree, marking the road to a blessed tree, asking for permission to pick fruit, and setting out rags for needy people). These usages appear to be endemic to Israel and to the Druze. Two customs previously reported from Israel but not corroborated by the present survey are to pacify a tree’s spirit and as a charm for new clothes. Three of the 17 known reasons for tying rags on sacred trees are also known from regions beyond the Middle East (i.e., to transfer illness to the tree, to use a rag as a visiting card, and to pacify the tree’s spirits). And lastly, several customs never reported before from Israel appear to stem from the belief in ancient pagan polytheistic religions (to ensure a good yield, offerings to a tree’s deities/spirits, to pacify the ancestor’s spirits, to commemorate a death, and to pacify a tree’s spirit while picking fruits). Twelve of the reported 17 reasons for hanging rags on sacred trees are known from Israel. These findings elucidate the widespread and variable tree worship traditions that are prevalent today in the region. In spite of a monotheistic ban against ancient pagan beliefs, trees still remain a subject of worship in Israel today, as manifested by the daily tying of rags upon branches.