Zygophyllum dumosum Boiss. Notes (Bean Caper):

And they removed from Marah, and came unto Elim: and in Elim were twelve fountains of water, and threescore and ten palm trees; and they pitched there.

Numbers 33:9 (KJV)

And they set out from Marah, and came to Elim; at Elim there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they encamped there.

Numbers 33:9 (RSV)

Then they pulled away from Marah, and came to Elim. Now in Elim there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees. So they camped there.

Numbers 33:9 (NWT)

Noting that this evergreen xerophytic shrub flourishes over miles of the Israeli and Sinai deserts, Zohary notes that the inhabitants must have known it well, but equates it to the place name Elim, which shows up about a dozen times in the KJV, six times in Ruth, three times in Exodus, three in Numbers, and once in Isaiah. Persevering through rainless years on the desert, it can have more than 300 annual rings, scoring those years in which rains fell. They could be much older, as in the rainless years there are no growth rings. I suppose Zohary selected this of the five (Zygophyllum) species reported in the Flora of Palestine as it is the only conspicuously shrubby species. The other perennials are uncommon at best.

• Perennials or dwarf perennial shrubs: leaves two-foliolate:

• —Very common dwarf shrub; fruits with five broad wings — Z. dumosum

• Perennials but not conspicuously shrubby; fruit wingless but sometimes five-lobed:

• — Leaves flat; fruit 2-3 cm long — Z. fabago

- • Adults glabrous; pedicels longer than flowers — Z. coccineum

- • Adults hairy; pedicels shorter than flowers — Z. album

• Prostate annuals; leaves simple — Z. simplex

The USDA recognizes Tetraena as the correct designation for this Holy Land species, but most of my floras still call the other Zygophyllum. One website suggests that this species might be found on the Shroud of Turin ( Another notes that: The Shroud of Turin, to the naked eye, is a negative image of a man with folded hands (linen 14 feet, 3 inches long and 3 feet, 7 inches wide). The shroud bears the image of a man with wounds similar to those of Jesus. Wrapped in red silk, the shroud is kept in a silver chest in the Chapel of the Holy Shroud in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Turin, Italy since 1578. It is unquestionably old. It surfaced in 1357 in Lirey, France. Some carbon dating (1988) suggests that the shroud dates back only to 1260-1390. But the debate goes on. Either Carbon-14 dating is inaccurate or the shroud is a fake (says the website). Here we also read, regarding establishing the shroud's provenance, that the bean caper is most significant. Max Frei identified pollen grains of this species on adhesive tapes he studied. The northernmost limits of this species coincide with the line between Jericho and the sea-level marker on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. Because Zygophyllum dumosum grows only in Israel, Jordan, and Sinai, its appearance helps to definitively limit the shroud's place of origin (source:

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