The 'chavatstselet hasharon', translated as the ‘rose of Sharon’ in the NIV, is only referred to once in the Old Testament. It is found in the Song of Solomon 2:1 where it says, “I am a chavatstselet [rose] of Sharon, a lily [shoshan] of the valleys.”

Tulip agenensis

Tulipa agenensis, Israel. PICTURE: Zachi Evenor and MathKnight (licensed under CC BY 3.0/image cropped)

It is thought that this is the Sharon tulip (Tulipa sharonensis), which is a subspecies of the Tulipa agenensis. The Sharon tulip grows to around 20 to 25 centimetres high, which is smaller than the Tulip agenensis, which can grow up to 40 centimetres.

The outer tepals (which are the petals and sepals of the flower) are scarlet in colour and have a pointed, black basal blotch with a yellow margin. The black blotch covers around one-third to one-half of each petal. 

The tulip is found growing in sandy soils and hills along the coastal plain of the eastern Mediterranean, this area is called the Sharon.

This is an edited excerpt from Alvin Johnson's iBook 'Biblical Flora', 2017. The book is available for free download on iTunes. A teacher's edition is also available for purchase.