Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Judas Tree of Israel

A Purple Judas tree

A month or so after the almond blossoms are gone, the beautiful flowers of the Judas tree show up in loud purple glory in Israel.

These trees are often planted by municipalities to brighten up sidewalks. But I have also noticed them next to roads and high-ways. This has made me wonder if  the Israeli road workers say to themselves:

"You know, an unexpected Judas tree will look so cool around this bend of the road. Let's plant a tree here to brighten up drivers' trip." Err...not likely!

I think it is more reasonable to argue that the seeds of the Judas tree seem to like to take root in earth that has been disturbed by roadworks. Maybe that is the reason why they always seem to grow next to the road. I am keeping my eyes open, but I have not yet came across a wild Judas tree that grows in a forest or open field.

A close-up of the Judas tree's flowers
Which brings me to its odd Hebrew name. In Hebrew, the Judas tree is called: חליל החורש which means something like "lightness of the forest". Lightness like in the opposite of heavy. This is actually a beautiful name because the tree's wonderful purple color seems to have a lightness about it. But it is not really a forest growing tree. (But maybe I am wrong).

But one can also argue that the name Judas tree is not that approppiate either. Wikipedia says that people wrongly believe the tree got this name because it is thought that Judas Iscariot hanged himself from a Judas tree. It is more likely that the tree got it name from the French "Arbre de Judee" or tree of the Judea area. Anyway, who would hang himself from such a beautiful tree?

I personally think these trees should be called Priscillas. Isn't that a much more fitting name to such an extravagant purple tree? :)


  1. I agree. Priscilla is such a pretty name and those trees are so pretty. They look like beautiful women in their finest. Nice blog!

  2. Thanks for the information. My Girl Scout Tree badge is of no value here with different flora, so I appreciate every chance I can get to learn.