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Ziziphus mucronata (Umlahlankosi)

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It is believed that when Jesus Christ was crucified his crown of thorns was made from a plant species named Ziziphus spina-christi Wild. (Christ’s thorn jujube in English).  Ziziphus spina-christi Wild. can be found growing naturally in Northern Africa and Southwestern Asia and it closely resembles Ziziphus mucronata, a species that is native to Sub-Saharan Africa.

In Zulu, Ziziphus mucronata is known as umlahlankosi. The name, umlahlankosi, comes from the fact that a long time ago Nguni people, more especially Zulu and Swati people, would plant this tree at the grave site where chiefs (tribe leaders) would be buried, and it would symbolize the chief’s final resting place. Hence, the name umlahlankosi, which loosely translates to: “that which buries the chief''. 

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