Judas Tree

(Cercis siliquastrum) The purple-rose flowers tell how the tree burned with shame when Judas hanged himself on it (Skinner), originally a Greek tradition, so it has been said, but the name Judas Tree first appeared in Gerard. (Hutchinson & Melville). It is naturally, given the association with Judas, the symbol of betrayal (Leyel. 1937). Another result of the association is that we are advised to avoid it, especially when it is flower (M Baker. 1977). A lot of people are reluctant to cut it, especially after dark. They used to say in Friesland that the Judas Tree was a favourite haunt of witches (Dyer. 1889). Any tree with a Judas association would have a corresponding witch connection - compare, for instance, the elder, which is also a very unlucky tree to cut. There is, too, a superstition that it would be death to fall into a Judas tree (Folkard), an obvious re-enactment of the hanging of Judas.

Wilkinson. 1973 suggested that Judas Tree should actually be Judaea Tree. So did Barber & Phillips. It was called Tree of Judaea in France, and it was from France that the tree came to England, but it had become Judas Tree by Shakespeare's time.

Juglans nigra > BLACK WALNUT

Juglans regia > WALNUT

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