Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Biblical Plants make a come back

Carrubo at the Vatican Gardens
One small section of the Vatican garden houses potted plants that are listed in the bible and were commonly used during ancient times. The biblical plants included cypress, olive, carrubo, cedro, aloe, date palm, melograno, artemesia, canna and a few more. 

Carrubo, Ceratonia siliqua, stuck out to me because I recognized the word “Carrubo” from eating “carob” chips. Carob chips are like chocolate chips and commonly sold at health food stores or as a dairy free, vegan substitute to chocolate chips. I did some research and Ceratonia siliqua, used in biblical times, is indeed the same plant that carob comes from. The carob tree produces pods like peas that are ground into a powder and used as the cocoa substitute.

I also recognized Artemisia from the Howdy Farm garden back in College Station. Artemisia absinthium, also known as woodworm, is used to make Absinthe alcohol. From what I learned at A&M, the Artemisia plant is edible and when eaten in large amounts can be a hallucinogen. Absinthe, too, is known for have hallucinogenic effects in large amount. When I checked this on the Internet I found that Van Gogh and Picasso drank absinthe to create art, as well as many famous Beat poets and lost generation authors.
Pomegranate at Pompeii

Melograno, or pomegranate was in the mix of biblical plants. Punica Granatum has an interesting history. Each fruit always has 613 seeds representative of the 613 mitzvot, or commandments in the Torah. It is said that pomegranates were depicted on the pillars of the temple of King Solomon and that he designed his crown based on the shape that pomegranate makes when flowering. Later, we saw pomegranates at Pompeii representing the historical importance. 


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