Scientists Want To Use Christ’s ‘Crown Of Thorns’ Tree To Reclaim Deserts

REUTERS/Amir Cohen

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Joshua Gill Religion Reporter
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Israeli scientists claim they can use the Christ’s Thorn Jujube tree, believed to be the source of Jesus’ crown of thorns, to fight against desertification.

The tree, Ziziphus Spina-Christi, is a “pioneer species” in the fight against desertification since it can withstand extreme temperatures and lack of water, scientists studying climate change in Israel said, according to Reuters. They intend to plant the tree throughout the hills of Israel, so they can retain the ability of photosynthesis even when exposed to solar radiation and high temperatures that would damage other plants. The trees have deep root systems that can find water beneath lands seemingly completely dry.

“It’s one of the few species that we can plant on these slopes that have nothing on them,” Israel’s Volcani Agricultural Research Centre Dr. Shabtai Cohen told Reuters. “We only know maybe one or two other species that can do that.”

Cohen and other scientists hope to use the tree to populate desert areas with new foliage and other hardy botanical species, he said. That new foliage, bred with the help of the Christ’s Thorn Jujube, will ideally aid in reviving the land. Much of the crown attributed to the tree is associated with the story of Christ’s death, resurrection and the new life Christians believe is offered to humanity through Christ.

Scholars proffered several different plants as possible sources for the materials Roman soldiers used to make the crown of thorns they placed on Jesus’ head to mock him before his crucifixion. Most Biblical scholars, however, suggest the Christ’s Thorn Jujube as the likely source.

The tree is mentioned not only in Christian traditions but in Muslim traditions as well. The Quran mentions the tree four times by its older name, the Sidr. Those who lived in Israel and the surrounding lands used the tree for medicinal purposes and sometimes made bread out of the tree’s fruits.

“Studying its attributes and its traits is going to help us to breed species that we want in the future,” Cohen told Reuters.

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