FRUIT OF THE BIBLE
Fruit production and references to fruit are more
prevalent than vegetables in the Bible. Ever since man ate fruit
from the forbidden tree, he has been having horticultural problems.
Of course, fruit plants have been very useful throughout the
ages, i.e., the first skivvies owe their existence to a fig
bush (Genesis 3:7). Hence, the brand name Fruit of the Loom!
Since the fig played such as important role in man's first wardrobe,
it was obviously considered to he one of the most important
fruits. It is mentioned in at least 25 books of the Bible. The
medicinal value of figs is described in several passages such
as Isaiah 28:29, "For Isaiah had said, Let them take a
lump of figs, and lay it for a plaster upon the boil, and he
shall recover." Yet fig culture had problems then just
as it does now. Such problems were emphasized in Christ's parable
of the fig tree in Luke 13:6 - 9, He spake also this parable;
"A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard;
and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.
--7. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold
these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and
cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?
--8. And he answering said unto him, Lord. let it alone this
year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:
--9. And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that
thou shalt cut it down."
The technique of digging around the bush would serve to prune
its roots and probably shock it into production. I wish the
gardener hadn't dunged it since too much fertilization of fig
bushes can cause problems!
Job 15:33 indicates that the people of Biblical
times were familiar with fruit drop. The scripture states, "He
shall shake off his unripe grapes as the vine, and cast off
his flower as the olive." Modern day gardeners experience
this same type of fruit drop when unripe grapes are infected
with the black rot fungus, when young persimmon trees experience
an environmental stress or when proper pollination and fruit
fertilization have not occurred. All fruit enterprises were
not surefire successes in Biblical times just as they are not
now. Isaiah 5:1-2 indicates how much trouble grape production
can be and how disappointing it can be. The passages read, "Now
will I sing to my well beloved a song of my beloved touching
his vineyard. My well beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful
hill: And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof,
and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in
the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked
that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild
grapes." Hence the importance of variety selection is re-emphasized!
Regardless of the fruit grown, certain basic cultural practices
were acknowledged then as they are now. Fertilization in the
form of dunging the fig mentioned in Luke and barriers from
animals such as deer-proof fences discussed in Isaiah have been
mentioned. Biblical horticulturists also understood the importance
of watering, tillage and pruning.
The importance of an adequate supply of water
"-For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and
that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see
when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not
be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from
Weed control was also a necessity. Deuteronomy
12:9 explains that: "Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with
divers seeds: lest the fruit of thy seed which thou hast sown,
and the fruit of thy vineyard, be defiled."
It seems that regardless of when or who is culturing
them, certain timeless problems occur. If misery loves company,
gardeners can number themselves among millions in the past who
have encountered similar problems. Yet one truth is timeless
-- the effort is well worth it.
OTHER FRUITS OF THE BIBLE by Jack Hoover
Name: Punica granatum
Bible Verse: Deuteronomy 8:7-10
Description: The pomegranate is native from Iran to the Himalayas
in northern India and was cultivated and naturalized over the
whole Mediterranean region since ancient times. Prefers a semi-arid
mild-temperate to subtropical climate and are naturally adapted
to regions with cool winters and hot summers. A neat, rounded
shrub or small tree that can grow to 20 or 30 feet, but more
typically to 12 to 16 feet in height. Pomegranates are also
long-lived. There are specimens in Europe that are known to
be over 200 years of age. The vigor of a pomegranate declines
after about 15 years, however. Fruit: The nearly round, 2-1/2
to 5 in. wide fruit is crowned at the base by the prominent
calyx. The tough, leathery skin or rind is typically yellow
overlaid with light or deep pink or rich red. The interior is
separated by membranous walls and white, spongy, bitter tissue
into compartments packed with sacs filled with sweetly acid,
juicy, red, pink or whitish pulp or aril. In each sac there
is one angular, soft or hard seed. High temperatures are essential
during the fruiting period to get the best flavor. The pomegranate
may begin to bear in 1 year after planting out, but 2-1/2 to
3 years is more common. Under suitable conditions the fruit
should mature some 5 to 7 months after bloom. There are essentially
no limiting pests or diseases, although fruit spots can be serious
in humid areas. Fruit splitting near maturity occurs because
of poor water relations. Plants tolerate alkaline and somewhat
saline soils quite well. Organic production potential: Very
Exodus chapter 28:33-34 directed that images of
pomegranates were woven onto the borders
Hebrew priestly robes.
Some Jews traditionally eat pomegranates on Rosh Hashanah and
Sukkot. The Ancient Egyptians were buried with pomegranates.
The Babylonians believed chewing the seeds before battle made
them invincible. The Qur'an mentions pomegranates three times
(6:99, 6:141,55:068) - twice as examples of the good things
God creates, once as a fruit found in the Garden of Paradise
The juice can be used in a variety of ways: as a fresh juice,
to make jellies, sorbets or cold or hot sauces as well as to
flavor cakes, baked apples, etc. Pomegranate syrup is sold commercially
The juice can also be made into a wine. Pomegranate
juice is used for natural dyeing of non synthetic fabrics. Pomegranate
juice is sold in the USA under several labels, and is available
in health food stores and supermarkets across the country
Pomegranate juice stains clothing permanently unless washed
The pomegranate gave its name to: a. the grenade
from its shape and size (and the resemblance of a pomegranate's
seeds to a grenade's fragments) b. the garnet from its color.
Name: Date Palm (Phoenix dactylifera)
John 12: 12 - 13
For more information about pomegranate, see:
Bible Verses: Genesis 8:10-11
Description: The natural wild Olive is a small tree or shrub
to 8 m tall with rather straggling growth and thorny branches
The olive is an evergreen tree growing to 50 feet in height
with a spread of about 30 feet. The tree can be kept to about
20 feet with regular pruning. The graceful, billowing appearance
of the olive tree can be rather attractive. In an all-green
garden its grayish foliage serves as an interesting accent.
The attractive, gnarled branching pattern is also quite distinctive.
Olives are long-lived with a life expectancy of 500 years. The
trees are also tenacious, easily sprouting back even when chopped
to the ground. Olives will grow well on almost any well-drained
soil up to pH 8.5 and are tolerant of mild saline conditions
The tree may be grown as an ornamental where winter temperatures
do not drop below 12 degrees F. Green fruit is damaged at about
28 degrees F. Ripe fruit will withstand somewhat lower temperatures.
Hot, dry winds may be harmful during the period when the flowers
are open and the young fruits are setting. The trees survive
and fruit well even with considerable neglect. Olives are harvested
from November until March, 6 - 8 months after their spring blossoms
Proper pruning is important for the olive. Pruning
both regulates production and shapes the tree for easier harvest.
The trees can withstand radical pruning, so it is relatively
easy to keep them at a desired height. The problem of alternate
bearing can also be avoided with careful pruning every year.
It should be kept in mind that the olive never bears fruit in
the same place twice, and usually bears on the previous year's
growth. For a single trunk, prune suckers and any branches growing
below the point where branching is desired. For the gnarled
effect of several trunks, stake out basal suckers and lower
branches at the desired angle. Prune flowering branches in early
summer to prevent olives from forming. Olive trees can also
be pruned to espaliers.
A commonly practiced method is propagation from
cuttings. Twelve to fourteen inch long, one to three inch wide
cuttings from the two year old wood of a mature tree is treated
with a rooting hormone, planted in a light rooting medium and
kept moist. Trees grown from such cuttings can be further grafted
with wood from another cultivar. Cutting grown trees bear fruit
in about four years.
The olive tree is affected by some pests and diseases,
although it has fewer problems than most fruit trees. Around
the Mediterranean the major pests are medfly and the olive fruit
fly, Dacus oleae. In California, verticillium wilt is a serious
fungal disease. There is no effective treatment other than avoiding
planting on infested soils and removing damaged trees and branches.
A bacterial disease known as olive knot is spread by pruning
with infected tools during rainy months. Because the olive has
fewer natural enemies than other crops, and because the oil
in olives retains the odor of chemical treatments, the olive
is one of the least sprayed crops.
History: At a site in Spain, carbon-dating has
shown olive seed found there to be eight thousand years old
O. europaea may have been cultivated independently in two places,
Crete and Syria. Archeological evidence suggest that olives
were being grown in Crete as long ago as 2,500 B.C. From Crete
and Syria olives spread to Greece, Rome and other parts of the
Mediterranean area. According to the ancient Greek history,
Poseidon, god of the sea and Athena, goddess of peace and wisdom,
disputed over whose name would be given to the newly built city,
in the land of Attica. To end this dispute, it was decided that
the city would be named after the one who offered the most precious
gift to the citizens. Poseidon struck his trident on a rock
and salt water began to flow. Athena struck her spear on the
ground and it turned into an olive tree. It was decided that
the olive tree was more valuable to the people of Attica, hence
the new city was named Athens in honor of Athena. According
to Homer, the olive tree has been thriving in Greece for over
10,000 years. It was considered sacred and according to Solon's
law, anyone who uprooted or destroyed an olive tree, was judged
in court and if found guilty, was sentenced to death. For the
Ancient Greeks, the olive tree was a symbol of peace, wisdom
and triumph. An olive wreath was made, and used to crown the
Olympic champions The Bible contains many references to the
culinary and religious uses of olives and olive oil. In the
Book of Genesis the dove sent out from the ark by Noah returned
with an olive branch. Here it became the great symbol of peace,
indicating the end of God's anger. The greatest religious significance
of olive oil is documented in the Book of Exodus, where the
Lord tells Moses how to make an anointing oil of spices and
olive oil. During consecration, holy anointing oil was poured
over the heads of kings and priests. Thousands of years ago,
crushing was done by hand in spherical stone basins. In California,
some say they were introduced in 1769 when seeds brought from
Mexico were planted. Others site the date 1785 when trees were
brought in to make olive oil.
Uses: Olives were cultivated in ancient times
for lamp fuel, lubrication, and dietary fat. Olive oil is an
important component of the Mediterranean diet, and in fact is
included in the European food pyramid. Those eating the Mediterranean
diet (rich in olive oil, fruits, vegetables, and fish) are known
to have lower rates of colon, breast, and skin cancer, and coronary
heart disease. Olive oil may act by reducing the LDL ("bad")
and raising the HDL ("good") forms of cholesterol
in the blood. Olive extracts have been shown to have hypoglycemia
activity Olive oil reduces gallstone formation by activating
the secretion of bile from the pancreas. Olive oil may act as
a mild laxative.
For more information about Olives, see:
Name: Sweet Bay, Bay tree (Laurus noblis)
Bible verse: Psalm 37: 35
Plant Type: Evergreen Tree
Propagation: Stem cuttings, Seeds
Habit: Upright, Conical
Light: Full Sun, Part Shade
Flower Color: Yellow, White
Width: 15 - 20 feet; Height: 20 - 40 feet
Fertility: Moderately Rich, Average, Poor
Soil: Alkaline, Neutral, Acid, Well-drained
Zone: 8 - 10
History: The Latin name for the Bay Laurel plant,
Laurus noblis, is derived from the word "to praise"
or to be renowned or famous. The laurel has long been a symbol
of tribute, honor, victory, merit,and reward. In Ancient Rome,
heroes among the athletes, generals, emperors, and poets received
a wreath of laurels as homage to their service and accomplishments.
Ornamental, Culinary Herb, Fragrance, Hedge,
Leaves used in marinades, patés, soups and stews. Leaf
decoction (a preparation made by boiling a substance in water)
added to bath water relieves aching limbs. Great for container
gardening. Withering of a bay tree once thought an omen of disaster.
Black Mulberry Name: Sycamine (Morus nigra) Bible verse: Luke
17: 5 - 6 Description: a low growing, thick crowned, stiff branched
tree growing from 24 - 35 feet tall (rarely over 30 feet) forming
a stout trunk with deciduous leaves (they fall off in the winter).
Said to afford a dense shade in summer and to live a long time.
Has a black edible fruit.
The Greek word in Luke's reference translates to mulberry. Originally
this tree was used for silkworms but was supplanted by the Morus
alba for silk production. The red mulberry juice was used to
incite to elephants of Antioch (I Maccabees 6:34) to battle.
The mulberry is worshiped in Burma. Europeans believed that
the devil used black mulberries to blackened his boots.
Name: Mulberry Fig (Ficus sycomorus), Fig mulberry,
Sycamore, Sycamore Fig, Egyptian Sycamore, Bible verse: Luke
19: 1 - 4 Description: This is NOT the English Sycamore which
is a maple! An evergreen relative of the fig and produces fig-like
Growing up to 30-40 tall, in the lower areas of Palestine but
not usually in the highlands. Attaining trunk circumference
of 20 feet or more. The main stem or trunk is short, dividing
into usually twisted and gnarled main branches near the ground.
Fruit is abundant but smaller than regular figs.
Amos: Herdsman/shepherd and gatherer/dresser of sycamores. It
was customary for the cultivators of the sycamore-fig 3- 4 days
before gathering, when the fruit is about an inch long, to pare
or scrape off a part at the center point or to make a puncture
there with the fingernail or a sharp-pointed instrument. Unless
this cutting or piercing operation is performed on every fig,
the fruit will secrete a quantity of watery juice and will not
ripen. Amos was apparently employed in making these incisions
in the sycamore-figs - he was thus a "tender" or "dresser"
of the sycamore, not a "gatherer" or "plucker".
Eighteen miles from Jerusalem is Jericho. Coming
from the mountain range you reach a tomb on the right, and behind
it is the tree which Zacchaeus climbed in order that he could
see Christ. Amile and a half from the city is the spring of
the prophet Elisha; at one time any woman who drank from it
would never have children. Then Elisha brought a cruse with
salt in it, and came and stood over the spring, saying "Thus
saith the Lord, be hath cleansed these waters." Now if
a woman drinks from it she will have children. And above the
spring is the house of Rahab the harlot, which is the house
where the spies came and she hid them at the time when Jericho
was overthrown, and she was the only one to escape. That was
where the city of Jericho used to
stand at the time when the children of Israel marched round
it with the ark of the covenant, and the walls fell down.
Although not as prized as the true fig, the fruit was eaten
by both human and animals. The wood though somewhat soft was
used for both furniture and construction. This plant is attractive
to bees, butterflies and/or birds.
For additional information concerning all plants of the Bible--
arranged alphabetically by common name see:
For accuracy, the scientific name is also included. Pictures
plants and plant products can be accessed from this site or
by going to
Bible Plants Photo Site. A link has been added to the Bible
entries to George Edward Post. For more information on Post,
George Edward Post Site at:
For more information about horticulture plants
of the Bible, see: