Plant Answers  >  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 find
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 is emphasized
Jeremiah 17:8,

"-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 yielding fruit."

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.



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 high.

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 as grenadine.

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 with bleach.

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)
Bible Verses:
John 12: 12 - 13
Exodus 15:27

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 appear.

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
Blooms: Spring
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.

Mulberry Fig
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 fruit.
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 of these
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 dictionary
entries to George Edward Post. For more information on Post, visit The
George Edward Post Site at:

For more information about horticulture plants of the Bible, see:


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