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Squill in Israeli Culture

This article was adapted from one written by the noted Israeli botanist: Prof. Avinoam Danin Published: January 17th, 2010 | Updated: 17/01/15

Squill should be regarded as a “regular” plant and not a “special” one because it is widespread and prominent in various seasons. It is found in all the 31 geographical districts of Israel and Jordan. It has many special “personal” features. It is one of the most prominent flowering plants in Israel and appears in many poems.

The plant was studied by Efrayim and Hanna HaReubeni, who saw in the plant many natural phenomena and close cultural links with the entire Middle East. In autumn, the sea-squill (Urginea maritima) terminates the growth cycle of a stem that started its development and leaf activity at the beginning of last year’s winter. It invites and hosts many insect pollinators in a season poor in flowers.

The plant’s name in Hebrew (HATSAV) is derived, according to HaReubeni (1941), from the similarity of the developing leaves as they sprout from the bulb at the beginning of winter, to the stone-cutters’ chisel. The word HATSAV in a Hebrew-Hebrew dictionary may surprise the reader (many are surprised at this): in addition to a plant, this word means a big jug or pitcher for storing oil or water. Think of the farmer plowing his field and uprooting a squill bulb with its leaves. He may hold the narrow part between the bulb and the leaves. The similarity between this and holding a jug by its “neck” is strong. The squill excels at developing large groups of bulbs (which will be called here “squill families”) and the development process of these “families” is poorly known to most people. Q

According to the Reubenis, the Hebrew name of the sea squill (HATSAV) derives from the sprouting leaves (left) which look like the chisel of the stone-cutter. In Hebrew-Hebrew dictionaries HATSAV is also a big jug or pitcher used for storing oil or water.

Squill sprouts after the summer drought dormancy. A few of the leaves are at the chisel stage, while others are already at the jug stage.

Symbolism:

Before I discovered the Israeli squill, I was ignorant (unknowing) of its existence and its characteristics. My ignorance didn’t harm or hurt the squill; it was still there and with the same characteristics. Many individuals in the world are ignorant about the Triune God. Their ignorance doesn’t mean He is not there or does not exist.  In this scheme of things, my being ignorant about squill has little impact on me or the plant. In contrast to the squill, if individuals are ignorant about God, their eternal destiny will be impacted. In reality, each of us has a responsibility to tell others of Christ as our Savior.

Copyright: Carolyn A. Roth, November 10, 2017

Please check my website for books about Bible plants to include parables illustrated by plants.

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Oleander, A Bible Rose

References: Sirach 24:18; Sirach 39:13; Esdras 9:26

The Plant:

The website “Flowers in Israel” noted the following references:

  1. 2 Esdras 9:26: So I went my way into the field which is called Ardath, like as he commanded me; and there I sat among the flowers, and did eat of the herbs of the field, and the meat of the same satisfied me.
  2. Book of Sirach (or Ecclesiasticus) 24:18: I was exalted like a palm tree in Cades, and as a rose plant in Jericho.
  3. Book of Sirach (or Ecclesiasticus) 39:17: By a voice he saith: Hear me, ye divine offspring, and bud forth as the rose planted by the brooks of waters.

These references are from the Apocraypha, an addendum to the Bible which most Protestants don’t adhere to, but Catholics fully embrace. In these books the plant named is the “rose;” botanists translated rose as oleander. In Sirach 39:14 the section is identified “In Praise of Creation.”  Indeed, many individuals perceive the oleander as one of the more beautiful blooms in nature. H.B.Tristram in The Natural History of the Bible ” wrote that the oleander is unequalled for the gorgeous beauty of its flowers, which shed a glowing sheet of pink over the fringe of every lake and water-course for several weeks in the early summer.”

The oleander (Nerium olander) is a broadleaf evergreen plant that grows well in Plant Zones 8–10. I live in Zone 7. After two years of vegetative growth each summer, my oleander has yet to produce flowers. Perhaps the climate is just too cold here in Roanoke. The oleander received its name from the leaves looking like olive leaves.

The Oleander grows up to eight feet tall and horizontally to five feet. Supposedly it is a seasonal bloomer with blooms pink, purple, or white. Blooms have five petals and the flower is funnel-shaped. The oleander should grow and bloom in full sun to part shade. It requires little maintenance and is drought tolerant. Supposedly, oleander grow well in tubs which are taken indoors in winter. Promptly deadhead spent blooms to prevent seed pods (very unattractive) from forming.

Symbolism: Sin

All parts of the oleander plant are poisonous if ingested. Plant saps can cause allergic skin reactions in some people. Smoke from burning plant material can be toxic. Ponder that something (the oleander plant) this beautiful to the eye is toxic to mankind. The oleander plant reminds me of many types of sin in our world. So many sins, i.e., beautiful, sleek, fast cars; seemingly glitzy life styles of the rich and famous; sumptuous banquets with an overabundance of rich foods to include desserts, are attract the eye but when consumed are poisonous.

Reflection: Just as the oleander plant is poisonous, so are certain sins that we encounter daily. The oleander plant is a lesson for Christians.

Copyright: November 5, 2017; Carolyn A. Roth

For more information on Bible plants, visit my website: http://www.CarolynRothMinistry.com

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De-LEAF

1-DSC05874Leaves drop  from trees in the autumn season. We used to call them “fall leaves” because trees dropped them mid-to-late autumn or fall.

At one time, children raked leaves; however, now leaves are blown onto a pile and vacuumed into a truck to be dumped in the land fill!

If leaves didn’t fall, then trees would have no space for new leaf buds  in the spring.

Perhaps our lives are the same way, i.e, if parts of us don’t die and fall off,  there is no room for new growth.

Reflection: Do you want new growth in your life? If so, what are you willing to let fall or give up?

Copyright December 11, 2013; Carolyn A. Roth

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Daring Dahlia

 

Like the poinsettia, the dahlia is a western hemisphere plant. It was first found and described among the Aztecs of Mexico. In 1570 King Phillip II of Spain sent Francisco Hernandez to Mexico to study the natural resources of the country (http://www.dahlias.com/dahliahistory.aspx). The first drawings were made of the dahlias by an associate who was traveling with Hernandez and were published in 1651.

The next time dahlias appear in history is 1789, the director of the Botanical Garden at Mexico City sent plant parts to Antonio Jose Cavarilles, on staff at the Royal Gardens of Madrid in Spain. From these he grew and flowered 3 new plant forms, Dahlia pinnata, D. rosea, and D. coccinea. Cavarilles named the genus after Andreas Dahl, a Swedish botanist. The scarlet Dahlia coccinea was crossed with a mauve-flowered species, possibly D. pinnata, which ultimately resulted in the first modern dahlia hybrid.  Through the 1800’s and 1900’s thousands of new forms were developed.  Nearly 50,000 named varieties have been listed in various registers and classification lists. All of these dahlia forms were hybridized from at least two, and possibly all three of the original Dahlia species from Mexico.

Wisdom and wit from a British poet:

The Dahlia you brought to our isle
Your praises forever shall speak

‘Mid gardens as sweet as your smile
And colour as bright as your cheek.

–Lord Holland (1773–1840)

Characteristics of Dahlias

Blooms are colorful spiky flowers which generally bloom from midsummer to first frost, when many other plants are past their best. Dahlias come in a rainbow of colors. I have yellow, magenta and red at home. They are a range of size, from the giant 10-inch “dinnerplate” blooms to the 2-inch lollipop-style pompons. Most varieties grow 4 to 5 feet tall.

Though not well suited to extremely hot and humid climates, such as much of Texas and Florida, dahlias brighten up any sunny garden with a growing season that’s at least 120 days long. Dahlias thrive in the cool, moist climates of the Pacific Coast, where blooms may be an inch larger and deeper. In the cold climates of North America, dahlias are known as tuberous-rooted tender perennials, grown from small, brown, biennial tubers planted in the spring.

Dahlias may be hardy to USDA Zone 8. There, they can be left in the ground to overwinter. In areas that get frost, including most parts of Zone 5, a killing frost—or a touch of frost—can help the bulb to shut down/go dormant. In cold regions, if you wish to save your plants, you have to dig up the tubers in early fall and store them over the winter.

Planting Advice:

Don’t be in a hurry to plant; dahlias will struggle in cold soil. Ground temperature should reach 60°F. Wait until all danger of spring frost is past before planting. Select a planting site with full sun. Dahlias grow more blooms with 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight. They love the morning sunlight best. Choose a location with a bit of protection from the wind. Dahlias start blooming about 8 weeks after planting, starting in mid-July.

There’s no need to water the soil until the dahlia plants appear; in fact, over-watering can cause tubers to rot. After dahlias are established, provide a deep watering 2 to 3 times a week for at least 30 minutes with a sprinkler (and more in dry, hot climates). Dahlias benefit from a low-nitrogen liquid fertilizer (similar to what you would use for vegetables) such as a 5-10-10 or 10-20-20. Fertilize after sprouting and then every 3 to 4 weeks from mid-summer until early Autumn. Do NOT over-fertilize, especially with nitrogen, or you risk small/no blooms, weak tubers, or rot.

Reflection: I searched my books on plants in the Bible and plants in Israel to try to find a plant like a dahlia. I could find none. At first, I was sad that I could not relate dahlia to the Bible, but then I thought about creation. Dahlia flowers are part of God’s creation. Because they are not in Israel or any of the holy lands does not mean that they are less valuable. There is a lesson in there somewhere for my life.

Copyright: August 3, 2017: Carolyn A. Roth

Please visit my website at: http://www.CarolynRothMinistry.com.

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Rooted in God 2

Rooted in God 2 is a significant revision of my first book Rooted in God. Because my original publisher closed, I had to revise and republish the book (bah humbug). Rooted in God 2 is a Bible study but it is different from the Bible studies church members often engage in. This study is indeed rooted in God. Its focus is mankind’s interactions with plants and the symbolism of those plants in Holy Scripture. There are study questions at the end of the 15 chapters.

You can purchase Rooted in God 2 at a substantially reduced price on my website: http://www.CarolynRothMinistry.com. If you want to buy in bulk, contact me (carolyn.roth@ymail.com). I can reduce the cost of shipping for multiple books.

Blessings, Carolyn

 

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Spitfire

Crocosmia (Spitfire) is growing in St. John Lutheran Bible Garden. This plant was not identified in the Bible. I put it in the garden because I like it. The leaves are similar to those of an Iris, so I try to justify its inclusion on that basis. The flower is similar to an Israeli plant, the Chasmanthe floribunda, which is also called the African coneflower.  But, enough of my justifications for including it in this blog on Bible plants.

The Spitfire cultivar is know for its beautiful orange flowers. They grow in plant zones 5 -8 as perennials. Spitfire prefers full sun but wet soil causes rotting of roots. I have them planted two places. One, where I rarely water and they are growing vigorously. Another place gets water regularly and the long leaves have turned brown and there are few buds. Probably, I should transplant them to a dryer garden.

Application:  Have you ever thought about a Spitfire?  In the Bible, the word spitfire is not used. According to the Webster dictionary, a spitfire is a quick tempered or highly emotional person. In the Old Testament, Samson would have qualified. By the New Testament, generally, the word most closely resembled a firebrand. Often firebrands were zealots. One of the apostles was called Simon, the Zealot. Paul was zealous in his preaching of God’s word.

Reflection: Probably, no one would ever call be a zealot, spitfire, or even firebrand. I don’t get highly emotional about much. That is not to say that being highly emotional doesn’t have its place. Can you names several things it is okay to be highly emotional about?

Copyright July 8, 2017; Carolyn A. Roth

Please visit my website at http://www.CarolynRothMinistry.com/

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Caucasian Mountain Spinach

Caucasion mountain spinach (Hablitzia tamnoides), is the sole member of the genus Hablitzia, closely related to Amaranth. It is a perennial vine, growing 6-10 feet, hardy to Zone 4, boasting the title of “the” perennial spinach, with harvest beginning in very early spring. Tantalizing, isn’t it? Clearly, this plant does not grow in Israel or any Holy Lands because these lands are Plant Zone 10. Further, no types of spinach were identified in the Bible, but probably Israelites ate a type of spinach to supplement their diets and possibly as a type of bitter herb in the Seder meal.

Trials of Growing Caucasian Mountain Spinach:

I have traded, bought, begged Hablitzia seed from several sources, for several years, and have gotten several strains. Every year I carried out careful compost care, as I attempted to obtain a healthy plant. They have invariably died. Every year I have inched closer, with barely a sprout the first year. In following years, I achieved whole trays of the plants. This was only for a short while as one by one, day by day, each plant to wilt. The next day I’d find it flat on the ground, dead.

This year, I finally made a breakthrough: I have continued using more and more rock powder, with better and better results for the plants. Most botanists describe mountain spinach as a ‘woodland’ plant; but the situations that seem to give the best results simulate dry river beds, or rock crevices. They seem to like tons of available minerals, little nitrogen, and alternating dry and wet, with lots of sun. Providing enough rock seems to be especially important.

Once the seedlings achieved true leaves, I transplanted into simple, un-amended clay I dug up from under a healthy clover plant, mixed with wollastonite until it was white. I put the transplanted seedlings in the shade, and didn’t water for the first day. When I finally watered, I put them in full sun for a couple of hours, to day off the leaves and then put them in the shade.

Yes, one continued to grow beyond the size of any I have grown. Then it vined! It even bloomed! This spring, it’s sprouting!

Obviously I’m just short of delirious. What’s more, I am reverse engineering the heck out of this situation in the hopes I can actually get one to grow in Mortal Tree. I transplanted several of the other plants to the food forest last year. They all died -some due to animals though. Perhaps they would have overcome the wilt otherwise.

Carolyn’s Reflection:  Why would God even create such a plant? How is a  rare and hard to grow plant important in God’s perspective?

Reblogged and adapted (slightly) from Mortal Tree.

Don’t forget to visit my website:  http://www.CarolynRothMinistry.com/

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Growing Artificial Plants

In Flander’s Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies grow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!

Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Composed at the battlefront on May 3, 1915
during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium

By Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae

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God of Grace and Glory

Remember singing this hymn as a child? I do and still love the words.

This butterfly is sitting on a thistle but he is safe. In the world there are thisles but we are safe in Christ.

God of grace and God of glory,
on your people pour your power;
crown your ancient church’s story,
bring its bud to glorious flower.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
for the facing of this hour,
for the facing of this hour.

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