Biblical plants still grow in Holy Land

There is a lot of fall gardening still to be done. This is a great time to plant pansies, ornamental kale and cabbage to produce color all winter. It is time to select and plant your spring flowering bulbs like daffodils, hyacinth, crocus and tulips. It is time to move in your tender plants or take cuttings of plants you want to save for next spring.

I am writing this column in Israel while on an Ag Trade Mission to visit greenhouse and vegetable production operations and to learn more about their crop production in the desert with really limited water resources. We have been fortunate to visit many biblical history sites and it has gotten me thinking about the plants of the bible. More than 120 species of plants are mentioned in the bible. Most of these species still grow in their wild state in the Holy Land and many are used in our Oklahoma gardens. Plants are first mentioned in the first chapter of the first book of the bible in Genesis 1:11, “And God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetations, plants yielding seed and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind”.

We visited the Mount of Olives and the beautiful gardens of Gethsemene highlighted by gnarly old olive trees that were up to 4,000 years old. So they were very old even when Christ visited there 2009 years ago. At the Garden Tomb we saw wild roses, lilies, anemone, rose of sharon, mint, dill, coriander, mustard, provender (chick peas), leeks, onion and garlic that were mentioned in various bible verses and grow in Oklahoma.

At the Oasis where David visited at En-Gedi, we saw palms, tamarisk, oaks, cedar and fir trees, willows, poplar and sycamore trees, all mentioned in the bible.

We observed many edible fruits and berries mentioned in the bible including citron (goodly tree), mulberries, apples, walnuts, almonds, pistachio nuts and grapes. Other edible foods of the bible include figs, dates (palm trees), pomegranate, gourds and watermelons.

We saw many perseverant and determined Acacia trees as we drove across the deserts of southern Judea where Moses and the Israelites wandered for 40 years. Grain and bean crops are mentioned often in the bible including wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt. Cotton, reeds, cattails and papyrus were used in everyday life for making clothes shoes, paper, flutes, boats and homes as described in the bible.

A visit to the desert in the south of Israel helps you to appreciate how exciting it must have been for Christ and his disciples to come up out of the harsh, dry desert and arrive into the much greener “Promised Land” of Jerusalem.

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