while working on the template here to add links, i accidentally deleted the last 1/3 of the blogroll and all the guam links. i don’t quite remember what was there, but hopefully i can recover most of the links. Well, here is the next section of the HD, a furthering of the questions from section 26. for those interested in trees and their symbolism, this post will be a feast for you. Also, AT THE END OF THIS POST THERE IS A GAME!!!!!! enjoy – A QUESTION ALSO: for those who know a lot about trees, what do you see as the symbolic differences between the trees in this list…thanks!


Is ours lotus-tree
from the lotus-grove,

magnolia’s heavy, heady, sleepy

or pomegranate
whose name decorates sonnets,

but either acid or over-ripe
perfect only for the moment?

of all the flowering of the wood,
are we wild-almond, winter-cherry?

are we pine or fir,
sentinel, solitary?

or cypress,


The lotus tree was a plant in Greek mythology bearing a fruit that caused a pleasant drowsiness. This fruit was reported to be the only food of an island people called the Lotus-Eaters. In Homer’s Odyssey those of Odysseus’ men who ate the fruit lost all desire to leave the island and had to be forced away. In another story from Greek mythology, the nymph, Lotis, is turned into a lotus tree.

In Greek mythology, the Lotophagi (“lotus-eaters”) were a race of people from an island near Northern Africa dominated by lotus plants. The lotus fruits and flowers were the primary foodstuff of the island and were narcotic, causing the people to sleep in peaceful apathy. (a little orientalism at play here?)

When Odysseus and his men landed on the island of the lotus-eaters, Odysseus sent three of his men to investigate the island. But the men began doing as the natives did, eating the lotus fruit. This caused them to forget about leaving the island and ever going home. Finally, Odysseus managed to drive the three wailing men back to the ship and set sail.

The Lotus tree in Greek mythology is thought to have been a species of Jujube or the Date Palm. The island itself may be the modern Djerba.

Recent studies have shown that the Blue Lilly of the Nile Nymphaea caerulea, also known as the Blue Lotus, was possibly the plant used. It can be processed to be used as a soporific and in some formulations has psychedelic properties. It is very common in Egyptian iconography which suggests its use in a religious context.


In 1703 Charles Plumier (1646-1704) described a flowering tree from the island of Martinique in his Genera. He gave the species, that was locally known as ‘Talauma’, the genus name Magnolia, after Pierre Magnol. The English botanist William Sherard, who studied botany in Paris under Joseph Pitton de Tournefort, a pupil of Magnol, was most probably the first after Plumier to adopt the genus name Magnolia.

Magnolias have long been known and used in China, though not under their scientific names. References to their medicinal qualities go back to as early as 1083. After the Spanish conquest of Mexico, Philip II commissioned his court physician Francisco Hernandez on a scientific expedition in 1570. Hernandez made numerous descriptions of plants, accompanied by drawings, but publication was delayed and hampered by a number of consecutive accidents. Between 1629 and 1651 the material was re-edited by members of the Academy of Lincei and issued (1651) in three editions as Nova plantarum historia Mexicana. This work contains a drawing of a plant under the vernacular name Eloxochitl, that is almost certainly Magnolia. This must have been the first ever description of a Magnolia that came to the Western World. So the first Magnolia had already found its way to Europe before Charles Plumier found his Talauma on Martinique and gave it the name Magnolia[11].

The bark from Magnolia has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine, where it is known as houpu. The aromatic bark contains magnolol and honokiol, two polyphenolic compounds that have demonstrated anti-anxiety and anti-angiogenic properties. Magnolia bark also has been shown to reduce allergic and asthmatic reactions.

The natural range of Magnolia species is rather scattered. It includes eastern North America, Central America and the West Indies and east and southeast Asia. Some species are found in South America. Today many species of Magnolia and an ever increasing number of hybrids can also be found as ornamental trees in large parts of North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

Magnolia is an ancient genus. Having evolved before bees appeared, the flowers developed to encourage pollination by beetles. As a result, the carpels of Magnolia flowers are tough, to avoid damage by eating and crawling beetles. Fossilised specimens of M. acuminata have been found dating to 20 million years ago, and of plants identifiably belonging to the Magnoliaceae dating back to 95 million years ago. Another primitive aspect of Magnolias is their lack of distinct sepals or petals.


The Pomegranate is a species of fruit-bearing deciduous shrub or small tree growing to 5–8 m tall. The pomegranate is believed to have originated in the areas in eastern Iran, but its true native range is not accurately known because of its extensive cultivation.

Pomegranates are drought tolerant, and can be grown in dry areas with either a Mediterranean winter rainfall climate or in summer rainfall climates. In wetter areas, they are prone to root decay from fungal diseases.

The name Pomegranate derives from Latin pomum (apple) and granatus (grainy). The genus name Punica is named after the Phoenicians, who were active in broadening its cultivation, partly for religious reasons. In classical Latin its name was malum punicum or malum granatum, where “malum” is an apple. This has influenced the common name for pomegranate in many languages (eg German Granatapfel, seeded apple).

Another widespread root for “pomegranate” is the Egyptian and Semitic rmn. Attested in Ancient Egyptian, in Hebrew rimmôn, and in Arabic rummân, this root was brought by Arabic to a number of languages, including Portuguese (romã), and Kabyle rrumman.

The pomegranate has been cultivated around the Mediterranean region for several millennia. In Georgia, to the east of the Black Sea, there are wild pomegranate groves outside of ancient abandoned settlements. The ancient city of Granada in Spain was renamed after the fruit during the Moorish period. It is also extensively grown in South China and in Southeast Asia, and could have been brought by sea traders, assuming the pomegranate was not native to the Pacific coast. Missionaries from Spain are also said to be the source for the pomegranate’s introduction into the Caribbean and Latin America during the 1700-1800’s.

Pomegranate juice is a popular drink in the Middle East, and is also used in Iranian and Indian cuisine; it began to be widely marketed in the US in 2004. Pomegranate concentrate is used in Syrian cuisine. Grenadine syrup is thickened and sweetened pomegranate juice; it is used in cocktail mixing. Before the tomato arrived in the Middle East, grenadine was widely used in many Persian foods; it can still be found in traditional recipes. The juice can also be used as an antiseptic when applied to cuts.

Pomegranate seeds are sometimes used as a spice, known as anardana (which literally means pomegranate (anar) seeds (dana) in Persian), most notably in Indian and Pakistani cuisine but also as a replacement for pomegranate syrup in Persian and Middle Eastern cuisine.

In Turkey, pomegranate (Turkish: nar) is used in a variety of ways. The most famous one is pomegranate juice (Turkish: nar ekşisi), which is used as a salad dressing, to marinate meat, or simply to enjoy it straight. Pomegranate seeds are also used in salads, in Muhammara (Turkish Walnut Garlic Spread) and in Güllaç, a famous Turkish desert.

In Greece pomegranate, (Greek: ροδι, rodi), is used in many recipes; such as “kollivozoumi”, a creamy broth made from boiled wheat, pomegranates and raisins; Legume salad with wheat and pomegranate; traditional Middle Eastern lamb kabobs with pomegranate glaze; pomegranate eggplant relish; avocado and pomegranate dip; are just some of the dishes it is used in culinary.

One pomegranate delivers 40% of an adult’s daily vitamin C requirement. It is also a rich source of folic acid and of antioxidants.

***Pomegranates and symbolism***

Judaism and the Bible

Exodus chapter 28:33-34 directed that images of pomegranates be woven onto the borders of Hebrew priestly robes. 1 Kings chapter 7:13-22 describes pomegranates depicted in the temple King Solomon built in Jerusalem. Jewish tradition teaches that the pomegranate is a symbol for righteousness, because it is said to have 613 seeds which corresponds with the 613 mitzvot or commandments of the Torah. For this reason and others many Jews eat pomegranates on Rosh Hashanah.

Greek mythology

The wild pomegranate did not grow natively in the Aegean area in Neolithic times. It originated in the Iranian east and came to the Aegean world along the same cultural pathways that brought the goddess whom the Anatolians worshipped as Cybele and the Mesopotamias as Ishtar. The myth of Persephone, the dark goddess of the Underworld also prominently features the pomegranate.

In one version of Greek mythology, Persephone was kidnapped by Hades and taken off to live in the underworld as his wife. Her mother, Demeter, (goddess of the Harvest), went into mourning for her lost daughter and thus all green things ceased to grow on the Earth. Zeus could not leave the Earth to die, so he commanded Hades to return Persephone. It was the rule of the Fates that anyone who consumed food or drink in the Underworld was doomed to spend eternity there. Persphone had no food, however, Hades tricked her into eating six pomegranate seeds while she was still his prisoner and so, because of this, she was condemned to spend six months in the Underworld every year. During these six months, when Persephone is sitting on the throne of the Underworld next to her husband Hades, her mother Demeter mourns and no longer gives fertility to the earth. This became an ancient Greek explanation for the seasons.

The pomegranate also evoked the presence of the Aegean Triple Goddess who evolved into the Olympian Hera, who is sometimes represented offering the pomegranate. According to mythographers like Carl A. P. Ruck and Danny Staples, the chambered pomegranate is also a surrogate for the poppy’s narcotic capsule, with its comparable shape and chambered interior. On a Mycenaean seal (illustrated in Joseph Campbell’s Occidental Mythology 1964, figure 19) the seated Goddess of the double-headed axe (the labrys) offers three poppy pods in her right hand and supports her breast with her left. She embodies both aspects of the dual goddess, life-giving and death-dealing at once. Is that why Persephone found the pomegranate waiting, when she sojourned in the dark realm? The Titan Orion was represented as “marrying” Side, a name that in Boeotia means “pomegranate”, thus consecrating the primal hunter to the Goddess. Other Greek dialects call the pomegranate rhoa; its possible connection with the name of the earth goddess Rhea, inexplicable in Greek, proved suggestive for the mythographer Karl Kerenyi, who suggested that the consonance might ultimately derive from a deeper, pre-Indo-European language layer.

In the sixth century BCE, Polykleitos took ivory and gold to sculpt the seated Argive Hera in her temple. She held a scepter in one hand and offered a pomegranate, like a royal orb, in the other. “About the pomegranate I must say nothing,” whispered the traveller Pausanias in the second century A.D., “for its story is something of a mystery.” Indeed, in the Orion story we hear that Hera cast pomegranate-Side into dim Erebus — “for daring to rival Hera’s beauty”, which forms the probable point of connection with the older Osiris/Isis story. Since the ancient Egyptians identified the Orion constellation in the sky as Sah the “soul of Osiris”, the identification of this section of the myth seems relatively complete. Hera wears, not a wreath nor a tiara nor a diadem, but clearly the calyx of the pomegranate that has become her serrated crown. In some artistic depictions, the pomegranate is found in the hand of Mary, mother of Jesus.

In modern times the pomegranate still hold strong symbolic meanings to the Greeks. On imporant days in the Greek Orthodox faith, such as the Presentation of the Virgin Mary and on Christmas Day, it is tradition to have at the dinner table “polysporia”, (“polisporia”), also known by their ancient name “panspermia” in some regions of Greece. In ancient times they were offered to Demeter and to the other gods for fertile land, for the spirits of the dead and in honor of compassionate Dionysus. In modern times they symbolic meaning is towards Jesus and his mother Mary. The presence of pomegranate is also very important in Greek weddings and funerals. When Greeks commemorate their dead, they make “kollyva” as offerings that consist of boiled wheat, mixed with sugar and decorated with pomegranate. It is also tradition in Greece to break a pomegranate on the ground at weddings, on New Years and when one buys a new home for a house guest to bring as a first gift a pomegranate which is placed under/near the ikonostasi, (home altar), of the house, as it is a symbol of abundance, fertility and good luck. Pomegranate decorations for the home are very common in Greece and sold in most homegood stores.


* The Ancient Egyptians were buried with pomegranates. The Babylonians believed chewing the seeds before battle made them invincible.

* The Qur’an mentions pomegranates three times (6:99, 6:141, 55:068) – twice as examples of the good things God creates, once as a fruit found in the Garden of Paradise.

* Pomegranate has a calyx shaped like a crown. In Jewish tradition it has been seen as the original “design” for the proper crown. [5]

* Pomegranate juice stains clothing permanently unless washed with bleach.
* Pomegranate juice is used for natural dyeing of non-synthetic fabrics.

* Although not native to Japan, the pomegranate is widely grown there and many cultivars have been developed. It is widely used for bonsai, because of its lovely flowers and for the unusual twisted bark that older specimens can attain.

* Grenada, an island nation off the coast of South America, was named after the Spanish and French word for ‘pomegranate’.

* The pomegranate also gave its name to the hand grenade from its shape and size (and the resemblance of a pomegranate’s seeds to a grenade’s fragments), and to the garnet from its colour. In many languages (including Bulgarian, Spanish, French, and Hebrew) the words are exactly the same.

* The pomegranate was the personal emblem of the Roman Emperor, Maximilian I.


The flowering of the wood as a reference to the flowering of the cross

The flowering of the cross has been traced back to the 6th century. It is an especially striking and beautiful way to symbolize the new life that emerges from the death on Good Friday. Traditionally before the Easter Sunday service, the cross is covered with real flowers and the top draped in white. The entire cross is covered with flowers and is placed prominently at the front of the church to symbolize the new life in our risen Lord to all the worshippers present on Easter Sunday morning. The contrast between the starkly bare cross that worshippers have seen for 40 days and the living flower cross of Easter Sunday dramatically and visually represents the new life that we are celebrating after witnessing the very instrument of death and endings transformed by Christ’s rising.


Arbutus is a genus of flowering plants in the family Ericaceae, native to warm temperate regions of the Mediterranean, western Europe, and North America.

North American members of the genus are called Madrones, from the Spanish name madroño. The European species are called Strawberry Trees from the superficial resemblance of the fruit to a strawberry; some species are sometimes referred to simply as the “Arbutus”.

They are evergreen trees or large shrubs growing to 5-25 m tall, with red or brown bark. The leaves are spirally arranged, oval to broad lanceolate, with a serrated or entire margin. The flowers are bell-shaped, 5-10 mm long, white or pink, and produced in racemes or corymbs. The fruit is a rough-textured red or orange-red berry 1-2 cm diameter containing yellow fruit flesh with numerous very small seeds; the fruit are edible but have minimal flavour and are not widely eaten.

A recent study which analyzed ribosomal DNA from Arbutus and related genera suggests that the Mediterranean Basin species of Arbutus are not very closely related to the North American species, and that the split between the two groups of species occurred at the Paleogene/Neogene boundary.




10 thoughts on “

  1. That’s an exhaustive arboreal critique! Reading this jogged my memory a bit and I thought you might get a kick out of this:

    So the ancient Celts had symbols, natural symbols for certain stations/social classes in their society. I only remember one, because there’s an incredible irony that goes with it. The symbol for the king is the tree. Not just any trea, an Oak tree. Now Oak is a particularly hard wood, but the oak does something peculiar that not too many other trees do, they rot from the inside out. Not a bad symbol/metaphor for the seat of power.

  2. that’s awesome!!! thanks mephistofales!! hope to hear your voice around here often!!


  3. Hey Craig-

    I bet I’m the last person that you expected to see leaving you a note. How are you? I know it’s been a long time but I am trying to get in touch with some people from Redlands and, when I think of my time there, you are one of the few people who come to mind who I actually care about. I know a lot went down between us but I still hold you close in my heart and always will. I hope that you are well, it looks as if you are, and I hope to be able to get reacquainted with you. Feel free to contact me at my blog (I’m new at the blog thing) or you can e-mail me at twobuterfliez@msn.com. It’s good to see your face again, even if it is only a picture.

    Always close to my heart,

  4. I love trees! Let me have a go at this:

    The first is a fir of some kind, though I’m not sure which.

    Then cypress,
    maybe almond blossoms?,
    and then definitely white pine (I grew up in MN, so I know this one!)

  5. iseult is the winner!!!! she wins a dinner at my house!!! let’s make a date…soon

    mephis, that tree in carmel is amazing, minor white has an incredible black and white of that tree, have you seen it?

  6. Nope can’t say I’ve seen the b/w of lone tree… but there are so many, by the way, who is minor white?

    Ha! I’d bring Russky Standard Platinum… but nooooooooooooooooo! hehehe… relink my blog…

  7. mephis, ahhh yes, your blog got cut…i cant remember who else was in the bottom third, but you are relinked.

    sorry to get your hopes up iseult, but mephis is right, that last tree is a russky standard platinum pine, not a white pine. mephis gets the dinner…


    minor white is a photographer, here is a link to the photo i am thinking about, which i will also post in a new post.


    you’ll dig it…

  8. how the hell did he get up there?! that’s it… we’re hoppin’ fences… wow… that’s gorgeous… and I’m keen on the title “song without words” for the shot of the golden gate…

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