Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Judas Tree = Cercis siliquastrum

Judas tree, also known as redbud tree, is Cercis siliquastrum, a small deciduous tree in the subfamily Caesalpinioideae of the Fabaceae family, originated from Southern Europe and Western Asia, which is noted for its prolific deep pink flowers in spring.

Besides being planted as ornamental tree, the flowers are eaten in mixed salad or made into fritters.  The wood is used in veneers for its attractive grain.

Judas tree was first described by Linnaeus in 1753.   The Generic name derived from the Greek word kerkis, meaning a “weaver’s shuttle”, in allusion to its flat, woody seedpods.  The specific epithet derived from the Latin word siliqua, meaning “pod”.

There are several varieties and subspecies :
1. nothosubsp. yatikinii (Ponert) Govaerts
2. var. hebecarpa Bornm.
3. var. siliquastrum
4. var. alba Weston

There is a myth that Judas Iscariot hanged himself ( Matthew 27:1-10 ) from a tree of this species.  This belief is possible related to a corrupted derivation of the plant’s French common name, Arbre de Judée, meaning “tree of Judea”, referring to the hilly regions of the country where the tree were used to be common.  Another possible reason is the flowers and seedpods dangled from the trunk, in a way reminiscent of Judas’ suicide.


Matthew 27:1-10
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.”