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"Christ's Crown of Thorns" Jujube Fruit Tree

Updated: Apr 3, 2022

Jujube fruit (Ziziphus jujuba Mill.) "Christ's Crown of Thorns"

Family: Rhamnaceae. Related to the Hawthorn family.

Other names: Chinese date

Description: Tall, deciduous tree with abundant fruit production. 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 the Middle East, including Jerusalem.


Li Jujube - a popular cultivar, produces large, round fruit that weighs up to 3 oz. Great picked at yellow-green stage and eaten fresh. (producing the largest fruit out of any variety.) When planted with Land, tree will produce higher yields. 15-20ft. in height.

Lang Jujube - Produces large pear-shaped fruit. Best eaten when fruit is dried. (when planted with Li, tree will produce higher yields.

Honey Jar Jujube - Round, elongated, small/medium/ fruit. Excellent for fresh eating, sweet and crisp fruit. Tree grows 20 feet.

Shanzi Li Jujube - Medium to large fruit that has sweet, apple flavors. Very productive tree.

Indian or Cottony Jujube (Z. mauritiana) differs in harbors wooly underbellies of leaves instead of smooth. Fruits grow smaller and are less sweet.

Chico, Don Polenski, Suimen, Thornless Lang, Silverhill, Sherwood, Redlands, Admiral Wilkes, and Si-Hong are recognized varieties as well.

Zone: 5-10 (requiring only 150 chill hours below 45 degrees.) Very cold hardy. s a tropical evergreen tree of Sudanese origin. It grows in Israel in all valleys and lowlands, and usually is confined to low elevations below a.s.l. 500 m. Considered a "pioneer species" due to its resilience to rising temperatures and aridity.

Height: May reach 15 - 40 ft. tall (grown on a standard root stock) Tree may be trained during first five years of life, could be made into pillars, spindles, and pyramids, etc.

Soil: Good drainage is essential, grows in all soil types and pH Prefers sandy loams or lighter soils, yet may also grow in heavier clays. Has high salt tolerance or slightly acidic soils yet grows best with pH of 4.5-8.4. In western Australia, trees have grown successfully using irrigation water with an electrical conductivity of 320mS/m (1800ppm)

Companion Planting: Plums, Pears, Cherry (adjacently with aphid repelling botanicals: garlic, dill, chives, leeks, onions, catnip, fennel, cilantro, fennel, yarrow, coriander, etc.) (Borage helps to keep pests off other crops.) Ladybugs are one of the greatest defenses against aphids. Plants that attract ladybugs: Angelica, caraway, chives, cilantro, cosmos, dill, fennel, feverfew, statice, sweet alyssum, and botanicals that produce pollen.

Mediterranean Fruit Fly Repellants: Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.), Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia Miller), Arbovitae (Thuja occidentalis L - Cupressaceae)

Forest Layers Potential Companion Planting for Jujube:

Sub Canopy: Jujube, Cherry, Peach, Plum

Shrub Layer: Lavender, Rosemary, Savory, Liriope Spicata

Herbaceous: Dill, Cosmos, Poppy, Fennel

Ground cover: Thyme, Seedum, Creeping Phlox, Snow in Summer (Cerastium tomentosum, invasive), angelina stonecrop.

Light: Full-sun, they thrive in hot and dry regions, requiring long, hot summers. Retains photosynthesis during elevated temperatures and solar radiation. Just as that crown is associated with suffering and death followed by resurrection, the researchers hope the tree, which provides sustenance to bees and insects, can help support life in areas threatened by deadly heat.

Water: Highly drought tolerant once established. Greater yields come from consistent water. Draws water from deep underground.

Everything Kuwait by Jujuba

Everything Kuwait - Jujuba

Leaf: Deciduous. Jujube harbors shiny, three veined, alternated oval shaped leaves and thorny branches. Foliage is long, wispy, and lime green, similar to weeping willows drapery appearance, yet not as tall. May be crushed and inhaled as a steam. Crushed material may be made into a 'flour' and applied to wounds.

Bloom: Small yellow blooms appear before fruiting from November to December. Flowers occur on the axils of leaves on bearing shoots. Flowers are short stemmed, light green-yellow and 3-10mm in diameter. Most Jujube trees are self-fertile, pollination may be enhanced by pollinator.

Fruit: Cultivated for more than 4,000 years, mature trees may produce edible "apple-like" fruit of between 40-100 pounds of per season. Jujube fruit may be used as an apple substitute, used in salads, smoothies, and any apple inclusive recipe. Fruits may be eaten fresh, dried, boiled, stewed, baked, in teas, highly valued by Arabs and Bedouins. Fruit is collected for future use come winter, using thick pastes to bake as bread, a practice in Egyption Culture. Fruit is incredibly nutritious with potassium, phosphorus, calcium, manganese, iron, sodium, zinc, and copper. Rich in vitamin C and b-complex, antioxidant rich.

Three stages of maturation:

White mature - close to full size and will shade green to white.

Crisp mature - Full size, skin is transmuting reddish-brown. Fruit flesh is crisp and delightfully sweet.

Fully mature - Fruit skin lightly dries, transforms wrinkly and fully red from September to October. Flesh is increasingly sweet. (Best variety for this is Lang), drier fruit may be used in recipes calling for dates or raisins. Dried fruit may be stored up to 12 months in dry, cool and sheltered environments.

Branches: Branches display beautiful form with interesting zig-zag branches that may reach 2 inches in diameter. Some varieties have spines on branches, so handle with care while planting. May be used as firewood and high quality charcoal (which may be used in toothpastes and make-up recipes). A Jujube tree is traditionally planted in a sacred space and also on border lines, branches from the tree are then used to build fences there-forth.

Wood: Heavy and durable, serves well for artistic woodwork.

Pruning: Prune during winter "dormant" season. Remove unwanted shoots promply. Suckers may be removed anytime. Remove any diseased or damaged shoots.

Jujube Tree - one of the oldest in Israel, Tamar Park, Hazeva

Red lines indicate where tree may be pruned to optimized fruit production.

Propagation: Jujube produces mature stones and seeds within them. For increased germination, remove seeds from stones. Seeds germinate without stratification, yet stratification proves most reliable.

Stratify in moist sand for 3-4 months at 2-5 degrees Celsius. Sand should be moist and stored in pots or plastic bags. Seeds need to be soaked for 1-2 days before sowing. Sow early spring 2cm deep, 10-15cm apart.

Adequate water supply is essential until botanical has matured.

Fertilization is welcome when 7-10 tall for enhanced growth.

(I'll be planting mine with Russian Olive Trees as an experiment. Russian Olive is known as a nitrogen fixer which grows in poor soils)

Once our Jujube is 23inches tall our tree is ready for grafting.

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.

Shoots that harbor 5-8 nodes are great for grafting. One to two year old shoots are best. Refrigerate any shoots that will be used in the future or shipped within wet paper towels to keep moist. Use within 2-3 weeks.

Remove shoots during winter/dormant season, preferably at or below soil level.

Folklore: (directly quoted from article)

This tree has been widely used as a fruit plant and as a medicinal plant since antiquity and is still in use at present. 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 revelations of his Lord" (LIII: 13–18, Pickthall edition).

Stars and the Moon by Tariq Almutlaq

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.

In Christian tradition the tree was identified with the thorn bush with which Jesus was crowned before his crucifixion (Matthew 27:28–29; John 19:5; Mark 15:17). This is also the source for the scientific name (spina-christi).

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].

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 Yāsīn, Kabūl, 6 June 2004).

Jujube Tree Dream Interpretation

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 traditional 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 Ţāhir '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.

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, Mġār, Rabbi Avdimi grave in Haifa (cut at 2003), Sakhnīn, Sheikh Radwān near Nahariya, Sajarāt al-'Arūsa near Kābri).

Jujube Tree in Ein Hatzeva Hanan Isachar Photography

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 January 2003; Ibrāhīm QadaĦ, Kufr Manda, and 3 June 2004; 'Ali Sulaymān Xuţba, 'Arrābe, 6. June 2004; Yusuf Nimmr Masar, Sakhnīn 1 January 2005). The following Arab proverb signifies that Christ's Thorn is blessed.

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].

It is a short step from these phenomena to tree worship, animism and the worship of the saint's spirit that dwells in the tree [65].

"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].

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].

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 Yāsīn, Kabūl, 14 June 2004).

The purpose of this custom was twofold: to "stick" someone to the sacredness by attaching him or her to the powers of the tree and to expel demons with the tree's help ('Ădil Abu Ħamīd. Kufr Manda, 3 June 2004).

Christ's Thorn Jujube tree is worshiped because this tree is mentioned in the Qur'an.

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 Šāhīn Ħusayn, Beit Jan, 12 September 03).

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).

Tree worship is deeply rooted in human culture and attitudes 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 villagers (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].

Stars and the Moon by Taruq Almutlaq

Frese and Gray [90] emphasize that trees are an embodiment of nature, which represents the holy continuity of spiritual worlds, cosmic as well as physical. The tree sometimes 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].

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.

Medicinal: Cultivated in Chinese medicine, Middle-Eastern medicine, and medicine in Austria is also used.

Being an easer of pain, anti-inflammatory, Jujube embodies soothing medicinal qualities. In reference to toothaches, gum problems, arthritis, general painkiller for muscle pains, bruises, asthma, headache, chest pains, heart pains, eye inflammation, stomach disorders, constipation (out of fruit infusions), hemorrhoids, diarrhea, increases milk production in nursing mothers, promotes pregnancy, eases prolonged labor, wounds, blisters, burns, skin diseases/disorders, Abscesses, lung, chest, and pectoral problems, blood purifier and tonic, fractures, emollient, depurative, cooling, febrifuge, snake bites, measles, an astringent, hair problems, infant's powder (from powdered leaves), weight reduction, nervousness, swollen organs, diuretic, liver health, anal health, and overall god-sent healer.

Wildlife: rabbits, kangaroos, birds, parrots

Pests: Virtually pest and disease free. Mediterranean fruit fly (Medfly), lavender essential oil (3-octyl acetate), rosmarinsus officianalis L. (rosemary), arbovitae (Thuja occindentalis L. - Cupressaceae) has shown to repel the Mediterranean fruit fly.

Hazards: Fruits are quite perishable and highly susceptible to postharvest decay. Blue mold caused by Penicillin expansum is one of the most serious postharvest diseases in China.


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