Rose of Sharon

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For the Killswitch Engage song, see Rose of Sharyn.
One plant commonly called "Rose of Sharon" in the US is Hibiscus syriacus, here seen in bloom.

Rose of Sharon is a common name, a biblical name, that has been applied to several different species of flowering plants that are valued in different parts of the world. The name's colloquial application has been used as an example of the lack of precision of common names, which can potentially cause confusion.[1] "Rose of Sharon" has also become a frequently used catch phrase in lyrics and verse.

Biblical origins[edit]

The name "rose of Sharon" first appears in English in 1611 in the King James Version of the Bible. Varying scholars have suggested that the biblical "rose of Sharon" may be one of the following plants:

According to an annotation of Song of Solomon 2:1 by the translation committee of the New Revised Standard Version, "Rose of Sharon" is a mistranslation of a more general Hebrew word for crocus.[citation needed]

Chavatzelet HaSharon (Hebrew חבצלת השרון) is an onion-like flower bulb. The Hebrew חבצלת (ḥăḇaṣṣelaṯ) is a flower of uncertain identity translated as the rose of Sharon in English language translations of the Bible. Etymologists have tentatively linked the biblical חבצלת to the words בצל beṣel, meaning 'bulb', and חמץ ḥāmaṣ, which is understood as meaning either 'pungent' or 'splendid' (The Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon).

A likely interpretation for the Biblical reference is Pancratium maritimum, which blooms in the late summer just above the high-tide mark. The Hebrew name for this flower is חבצלת or חבצלת החוף (coastal ḥăḇaṣṣeleṯ). Since the flower grows on the Sharon Plain of the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, it is possible the Biblical passage refers to this flower.[original research?]

Recently, some scholars insist on translating ḥăḇaṣṣeleṯ into "a budding bulb" in consideration of the genealogical research of multilingual versions and lexicons.[3]

Modern usage[edit]

Hypericum calycinum
Hibiscus syriacus
Hibiscus syriacus double bloom

The name "Rose of Sharon" is also commonly applied to two different plants originating outside the Levant and not likely to have been the plant from the Bible:

In Art and Literature[edit]

Popular culture[edit]


  1. ^ Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia: Why use a scientific name?
  2. ^ McClintock, John; Strong, James (1889). "Rose". Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, Vol. IX RH-ST. New York: Harper & Brothers. p. 128. Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  3. ^ Satoshi Mizota. Origin of 'Rose of Sharon' : An Analysis of Various Translations Having a Bearing on The Authorized Version Text. Dissertation for MA: Aich University, 2008.[1]
  4. ^ "Rose of Sharon: Services for Young Mothers". Archived from the original on June 9, 2008. 
  5. ^ Alharizi, Judah. The Book of Tahkemoni, Translation: David Simha Segal. The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, London. 2001
  6. ^ Cole, Peter. The Dream of the Poem. Translation: Peter Cole. Princeton University Press, Princeton. 2007

Works cited[edit]