The lotus tree is scientifically known as the Ziziphus lotus. It is a deciduous shrub in the buckthorn family Rhamnaceae. The lotus tree is native to the Mediterranean, including Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Libya. Lotus is one of the plants included in the “jujube” species, so its relationship with Z. jujuba is very close. The lotus tree has several other names which are well known in several countries. Among the names are African jujube, Lotus tree, Lote fruit, Lotus, wild jujube, and Lotus jujube. The benefits of this plant are quite a lot, especially in terms of health, nutrition, cosmetics, and are made in several forms of products such as honey, jam, tea, juice, loaf, cake and oil.
The lotus tree is a thorny shrub with many branches. This plant can grow to a height of 2 to 5 meters (6.6–16.4 ft.). Lotus can be grown in dry or semi-arid areas around the world. He is very fond of clay, and his growing period really needs this clay. The branches are gray and crooked and usually if you notice it curves downwards. On the insertion of each leaf are two hard spines. One of these thorns is straight and the other is bent. The leaves are small, 2-4 cm in size and elliptical in shape.
Flower & Fruit
The flowers are regular in the form of races and small. It is yellowish green in color and bisexual in nature and it is actinomorphic. The flowers are usually visited by many insects because they release large amounts of nectar. Many honey bees perch on flowers that take nectar. The flowers consist of 5 sepals, 5 stamens and 5 petals. Usually, flowering occurs in March and April. The lotus fruit usually ripens in fall and is about 1-2 cm in size.
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Cultural and religious references
Ziziphus lotus in Greek mythology is considered a lotus tree. This actually refers to the Odyssey consumed by Lotus-Eaters as a narcotic to induce peaceful apathy.
In Rome near the Vulcan temple there is a lotus, it is said that this is a lotus tree planted by Romulus in the 8th century BC. The tree is still alive until 700 years later.
In the Arab region, the Ziziphus lotus and jujube are closely related to the lote-trees (sidr) which are mentioned in the Koran. While in Palestine it is better known as Ziziphus spina-christi which is also popular with the sidr tree. Indonesians also know this tree by the name “conscious tree”, usually used as medicine or a potion to drive out jinn. So, it is often used to treat those who are possessed by evil genies.
Richard Francis Burton, who is famous with 19th century British explorers, said that he saw the “sidr tree” in the Nabawi mosque in Medina, the place where the Prophet Muhammad SAW’s Tomb was located. The tree is said to be a tree dedicated to the Prophet’s daughter, Fatimah. The leaves of this plant are used to enter the bodies and the fruit is sold to pilgrims.
The remains or fossils of Ziziphus fruit, which are associated with Z. lotus and Z. spina-christi, have been found in several archaeological excavations, in western Asia and Egypt. These are considered to be relics and fossil remains from the Neolithic, and Bronze Age (Azam-Ali et al. 2006). Its existence in Libya is called by Herodotus (fifth century BC) and Theophrastus (third century BC), they describe that the fruit of this plant can be eaten, it tastes sweet similar to the taste of dates. They also mention that the fruits of the sadr are also made for wine. The same thing was mentioned by Pliny the Elder in the first century AD. They say that anyone who eats sadr fruit will not have a stomachache.
Also read: Jacote Fruit Facts (Spanish Plum)
Traditional Uses and Benefits of Lotus Tree
- In traditional medicine, Z. lotus is used as an anti-diabetic drug, sedative, medicine for bronchitis, and as an anti-diarrhea medicine.
- Some parts of this plant are given as anti-urinary troublesome agents, skin infections, anti-diabetes, anti-diarrhea, anti-fever, insomnia agents, bronchitis, sedative, and hypoglycemic activities.
- Dried fruit and leaf powder mixed with milk or water and used as a medicine for ulcers
- The skin from the roots is used as a diabetes medicine
- Z. lotus root juice is effective for treating leukoma.
- The leaves and fruit of Z. lotus are used as a moisturizer and as a medicine for diarrhea and intestinal diseases.
- Parts of plants such as fruits, leaves, and root have been used in North Africa as medicine to treat various diseases such as diabetes, respiratory, digestive, cardiac diseases and skin problems.
- The leaf powder is used to treat abscesses and wounds
- Fruit decoction is used to treat diabetes, respiratory and digestive problems.
- It is consumed by local North Africans as a snack
- The dried fruit is made as flour for making pancakes, with a delicious taste.
- This edible fruit has been consumed by people in the Mediterranean such as Spain, Cyprus, Jordan, Turkey and Morocco.
- The lotus fruit is used as a dessert, and also as a jam.
- In North Maerika, they use dried fruit to make flour, and then make bread. While the core of the seeds is used for making amlou, a Turkish food.
- The fruit of sadr, appreciated by travelers, they made sadr fruit as provisions for the journey.
- Other facts
- This plant is also used as animal feed, honey plant, fuel, and as a hedge that can prevent erosion.
- Planted on a fence to prevent animals from entering because of the prickly stem
- The flower of the lotus plant attracts bees
- The wood is also used as firewood.