Just a stone’s throw from Crown Heights, the beautiful Brooklyn Botanic Gardens boast hundreds of exotic flowers and trees from all over the world. Who knew that among the myriad varieties of plants growing in the garden, literally in our back yard, there is also a complete collection of all of the Daled Minim; the Lulav, Esrog, Hadassim and Aravos?
The special collection of the Sukkos plants are maintained by curator Karla Chandler in an artifially controlled climate that best suits the growth of these species in the ‘warm temperate pavilion’ in the garden’s conservatory. Currently, the special species are all next to one another and labeled by their scientific binomial nomenclature. The Esrog tree is labeled “Citron” – citrus medica meaning Mediterranean Citrus. It currently does not have any esrogim, pending pollination treatments. The Lulav tree is just behind the Esrog tree and is labeled “Date Palm” or phoenix dactilifera, and currently has one remaining unopened Lulav growing from its top, (Although this specimen would be ‘kosher’ for the four kinds, it is currently only for display and not available to be used for the mitzvah at this time.) The Hadas bush is just to the right of the Esrog and has a plate titled “Common Myrtle” myrtus communis. Although these are of the strictly ‘kosher’ variety, there are small ‘grape’-like berries that seasonally grow on some of the stems but the shulchon oruch says that these should be cut off and the hadassim are kosher. The Arava or Willow has been brought in from the numerous bushes outside the pavilion since they grow just as well outside.
If you are having difficulty finding the collection of the Arba Minim, ask for the curator, Ms. Karla Chandler to direct you. Ask when to come for pruning time when you might receive some of the fragrant cuttings from the esrog and hadas. Ms. Chandler also suggested that the Botanic Gardens administration is considering a proposal that would add the traditional Hebrew names to the labels of the collection of Sukkos plants to make them easier to find.
If you are considering a visit to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, don’t leave before asking to see the twenty five year old frankincense tree and some of the other varieties of plants that are believed to be part of the incense that was offered daily in the Beis HaMikdosh, the Ketores. Also, there are several olive trees that mature with ripe oil olives right around Chanukah.
Visit the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens on Friday this Chol Hamoed and enjoy an eye opening horticultural presentation about the ‘Four Species’ by a botanic expert. The workshop is sponsored by the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens in collaboration with Tzivos Hashem Crafts Workshops and the last presentation will take place on Friday at 12:45 in English, followed by Hebrew and French for out of town guests. Let’s show support for this meaningful effort the BBG is making for the Jewish community. To drive or walk from Crown Heights, proceed west on Crown Street until Washington Avenue, enter at 1000 Washington Ave. By subway, take the #3 Train to the ‘Brooklyn Museum’ station and enter the gardens at 900 Washington Avenue.
Who knows, maybe one day we’ll be able to walk down to the Botanic Gardens and order our Daled Minim. It must be Moshiach Times!
For information on conducting hands-on workshops on the Daled Minim please visit JewishChildren.com