Friday, August 10, 2007
Hibiscus syriacus, aka Rose of Sharon in North America
From Wikipedia: "The Rose of Sharon is a flower of uncertain identity mentioned in English language translations of the Bible. The word in question is the Hebrew חבצלת ḥăḇaṣṣeleṯ, which has been uncertainly linked to the words בצל beṣel, meaning 'bulb', and חמץ ḥāmaṣ, which is understood as meaning either 'pungent' or 'splendid' (The Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon). The name first appears in 1611, when it was used in the King James Version of the Bible. According to an annotation at Song of Solomon 2.1 by the translation committee of the New Revised Standard Version, this is a mistranslation of the Hebrew word for "crocus". Different scholars have suggested that the biblical "Rose of Sharon" is one of the following plants:
* A "kind of crocus" ("Sharon", Harper's Bible Dictionary) or a "crocus that grows in the coastal plain of Sharon" (New Oxford Annotated Bible);
* Tulipa montana, "a bright red tulip-like flower . . . today prolific in the hills of Sharon" ("rose", Harper's Bible Dictionary);
* Tulipa agenensis, the Sharon tulip, a species of tulip suggested by a few botanists; or
* Lilium candidum, more commonly known as the Madonna lily, a species of lily suggested by some botanists, though likely in reference to the "lily of the valleys" mentioned in the second part of Song of Solomon 2.1."