About the real Rose of Jericho

Rose of Jericho

This plant has the remarkable ability to survive in a curled up, dormant, brown, desiccated state for years, and then open up with a bit of water.

After they open they go dormant again when their water source is removed, and can be revived again after dormancy.

This cycle can be repeated for years. The skeptical, accusatory Sir Thomas Browne, in his Pseudo Doxia Epidemical, or “Vulgar Errors” (1646), wrote about Anastatica hierochuntica:

The Rose of Jericho, that flourishes every year just about Christmas Eve, is famous in Christian reports; which notwithstanding we have some reason to doubt, and are plainly informed by Bellonius, it is but a Monastical imposture, as he hath delivered in his observations, concerning the Plants in Jericho.

That which promoted the conceit, or perhaps begot its continuance, was a propriety in this Plant. For though it be dry, yet will it upon imbibition of moisture dilate its leaves, and explicate its flowers contracted, and seemingly dried up. And this is to be effected not only in the Plant yet growing, but in some manner also in that which is brought exodus and dry unto us.

Which quality being observed, the subtlety of contrivers did commonly play this shrew upon the Eve of our Saviors Nativity, when by drying the Plant again, it closed the next day, and so pretended a double mystery: referring unto the opening and closing of the womb of Mary.

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