A Wild Jewel
IN PARCHED DESERTS of Africa, where rainfall is scarce, grows a jewel—the desert rose. Delicately shaped, with twisted limbs, this plant grows slowly and is said to live for hundreds of years. The tree’s swollen trunk and its roots serve as a water reservoir, enabling it to flourish in a dry, inhospitable environment.
The milky sap, roots, and seeds of this succulent plant contain a deadly poison. Extract from the seeds is used to poison the tips of arrows, and local fishermen toss its branches into the water to stun fish for an easy catch. Additionally, herdsmen use parts of the plant to prepare a poison that kills ticks and lice on their camels and cattle. Surprisingly, despite the tree’s lethal nature, wild animals feed on its leaves without being harmed.
But how can the poisonous desert rose be called a jewel? Clothed with clusters of delicate blossoms, the desert rose is spectacular, with vibrant colors that range from bright pink to deep crimson-red. When the land is dry and colorless, this beautiful wild jewel puts forth a profusion of flowers that glow when illuminated by the sun.
Such amazing beauty in the desert is but a reminder of the time when “the wilderness and the waterless region will exult, and the desert plain will be joyful and blossom.” (Isaiah 35:1) This delightful promise will indeed become a reality under the coming rulership of God’s Kingdom. At that time the entire earth will “exult,” becoming not only a paradise of beauty but also a place of peace for all mankind.—Psalm 37:11, 29; Isaiah 35:6, 7.
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© Mary Ann McDonald