Characteristics of Christ’s Thorn Jujube Tree (Ziziphus spina-christi) in the Wild

Ziziphus spina-christi
Christ’s Thorn Jujube or Sidr is a species of small fruit-producing tree that grows in northern Africa and West Asia. The tree is also found growing in Israel in valleys up to 500 m above sea level.

Christ’s Thorn Jujube has significance for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. According to some traditions, the branches of the tree were woven into a “crown of thorns” and placed on the head of Jesus Christ before His crucifixion.

The ripe fruit is edible and the flowers are an important source of honey in Eritrea and Yemen.

The fruit and leaves of the Christ’s Thorn Jujube tree have been used in ancient Egyptian food and medicine. Modern research has shown that compounds extracted from the leaves of this tree can be used to reduce severe inflammation. Also, honey from bees that feed on Christ’s Thorn Jujube tree nectar has anti-bacterial properties that inhibit infectious diseases, especially when compared to other types of honey.

In the Levant, about a hundred years ago, the Christ’s Thorn Jujube tree was called Sidr (related to the Lote tree in the Al-Qur’an) and was widely grown in the Jordan Valley and around Jerusalem.

Some folk tales say the trees are protected by benevolent spirits or holy people (weli) who have died. Some stories say that this tree branch was used to make the crown of thorns for Jesus.

The oldest known Christ’s Thorn Jujube tree is still growing south of Jerusalem, in Ein Hatzeva, Israel. It is estimated that the tree is between 1-500-2,000 years old. Believed locally to be the ‘crown of thorns tree’.


Characteristics of Christ’s Thorn Jujube Leaf

Ziziphus spina-christi Leaf
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The leaves are oval, small, thick, and 3-5 cm long. It appears opposite the branches and is 3 cm long, has three veins on the bottom, two atrial branches, one straight and one curved.


Characteristics of Christ’s Thorn Jujube Flower

Ziziphus spina-christi Flower
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The flowers grow in the axillary of the leaves with a number ranging from 10-15, small and greenish-white.


Characteristics of Christ’s Thorn Jujube Fruit

Ziziphus spina-christi Fruit
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The fruits are cherries, 2-3 cm in diameter, juicy, bitter, black when ripe, and each fruit has 3-4 seeds.


Characteristics of Christ’s Thorn Jujube Tree

Ziziphus spina-christi Tree
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Christ’s Thorn Jujube grows as a small tree between 8-10 meters high. The leaves are dense, the branches are light brown, twisted, and prickly on the young branches.

This tree has deep roots and can withstand harsh environmental conditions, but needs warm winters because it does not tolerate low temperatures. In general, Christ’s Thorn Jujube trees grow in hot and temperate/tropical climates. It can grow in all types of soil as long as it is not wet or waterlogged.


The fruit is edible and tastes sweet, has high nutritional value, and is considered one of the special types of fruit.

The fruit also has uses in traditional medicine, especially useful for treating respiratory diseases, laxatives, and blood purifiers.

In the past, people dried Sidr/Christ’s Thorn Jujube fruit and grinded them in their mills to make a flour that was used as an ingredient in bread and sweets.

The leaves are used to treat scabies and acne. While the soaked leaves are useful for treating joint pain, stomatitis, and gingivitis.

The leaves are dried and made into a powder for washing hair, and have a strengthening and removing the effect of dandruff.

The flowers of this tree are favored by honey bees, and bees that feed on the nectar produce good honey with a high nutritional value called “Sidr honey”, which is one of the most sought-after types of wild honey.

The bark of the tree can be boiled and used as an analgesic for toothache, fever, and tonic.

Christ’s Thorn Jujube is widely cultivated as a decorative garden tree and yard or road shade tree. The trees are also planted as windbreaks and soil erosion protection.


The Christ’s Thorn Jujube tree can be cultivated from twig/branch cuttings planted in winter. It can also be grown from seeds collected in summer, as seeds collected in winter cannot germinate.

The lowest seed germination percentage is around 30%, and seeds must be soaked in water before planting.


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