Saturday, August 6, 2011

Judas's Ear = Auricularia auricula-judae

Judas’s ear is Auricularia auricula-judae, a species of edible Auriculariaceae fungus found worldwide.

Its specific epithet is derived from the belief that Judas Iscariot hanged himself from an elder tree ( Sambusus sp ), of which the fungus grows upon.

The common name “Judas’s ear”, then shortened to “Judas ear”, and eventually become “Jew’s ear” due to anti-Semitism in Britain, while “jelly ear” and other names are sometimes used.  

The species was first mentioned as Tremella auricular by Carl Linnaeus in his 1753’s Species Plantarum, and later described by Jean Baptiste François Pierre Bulliard as Tremella auricular-judae.  However, the genus Tremella is now reserved for fungal species that live as parasites on other fungi.

In 1791, Bulliard transferred the species to the genus Peziza.
In 1822, Elias Magnus Fries transferred it to the genus Exidia.
In 1860, Miles Joseph Berkeley described it as a member of Hirneola.
In 1888, Joseph Schröter named it Auricularia auricula-judae.

The fruit body of A. auricularia-judea is normally 3 – 8 cm.  it s distinctively shaped, typically being reminiscent of a floppy ear.  Its texture is tough, gelatinous, elastic when fresh, but it dries hard and brittle.  

While it is not a choice edible mushroom in the West, it has long been popular in China.  It is called 黑木耳 in Mandarin.

Biblical Narratives

Matthew 27
1 Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people made their plans how to have Jesus executed. 2 So they bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate the governor.
3 When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. 4 “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”

   “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”

 5 So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.

 6 The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.” 7 So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. 8 That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9 Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “They took the thirty pieces of silver, the price set on him by the people of Israel, 10 and they used them to buy the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.”

Acts 1
18 (With the payment he received for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. 19 Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Moses-in-the-Cradle = Tradescantia spathacea

Moses-in-the-Cradle is Tradescantia spathacea.  It is once popularly known as Rhoeo discolor, then renamed and reclassified under genus Tradescantia, yet remained in the family Commelinaceae.  Other synonyms includes : R. spathacea, T. bicolor.

The name of the genus honors the English naturalists John Tradescant the Elder ( ca. 1570s -1638 ) and John Tradescant the Younger ( 1608 – 1662 ).  The obsolete genus name, Rhoeo, was named after a mythical Greek goddess.

Moses-in-the-Cradle also known as Moses-in-a-boat, boatlily, oyster plant, and many other names in many languages and dialects.

Moses-in-the-Cradle is a herbaceous plant originated from South American rainforest.  The leaves are long, sword-shaped, green on top with violet underneath, capable to grow up to 12 feet in length.  The small white 3-petaled flowers are hidden in the boat-shaped purple bracts nestle in the leaf axiles, thus getting its name "Mosses in the cradle".

It is planted as an ornamental.  In some places, it becomes noxious weed as it is easily sprout from broken rhizomes.  In Mexico, it is widely used in traditional medicine.  The Chinese, although just recently encountered it, also recognized its medical properties.

Biblical Narrative

Exodus 1

 1 These are the names of the sons of Israel who went to Egypt with Jacob, each with his family: 2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah; 3 Issachar, Zebulun and Benjamin; 4 Dan and Naphtali; Gad and Asher. 5 The descendants of Jacob numbered seventy in all; Joseph was already in Egypt.

 6 Now Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation died, 7 but the Israelites were exceedingly fruitful; they multiplied greatly, increased in numbers and became so numerous that the land was filled with them.

 8 Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt. 9 “Look,” he said to his people, “the Israelites have become far too numerous for us.10 Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country.”

 11 So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. 12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites 13 and worked them ruthlessly. 14 They made their lives bitter with harsh labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labor the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly.

 15 The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, 16 “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.” 17 The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. 18 Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?”

 19 The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.”

 20 So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.

 22 Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.”

Exodus 2

1 Now a man ( Amram (Exodus 6:20) ) of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman ( Jochebed (Exodus 6:20) ), 2 and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. 3 But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. 4 His sister ( Miriam (Exodus15:20) ) stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.

5 Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. 6 She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.

 7 Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”

 8 “Yes, go,” she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s mother. 9 Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So the woman took the baby and nursed him. 10 When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, “I drew him out of the water.”