Palm Tree Symbolism – Common Features

Palm Tree (1717) by Ottoman illustrator Mohammed ibn Mohammed Shakir Ruzmah

In the arid regions of the Southern Mediterranean, the palm tree was depicted as an important symbol. Due to the dry region and climate, we can guess why the palm tree occupied such an important place, but like any culture in the world, there is always a symbol of a kind of tree. In Assyria, the palm crown was a symbol of the Assyrian sun god, in Egypt, the goddess Hathor was the “mistress of the date palm.”

The palm branch is a symbol of victory, triumph, peace and eternal life originating from the ancient Middle East and the Mediterranean world. The palm tree was sacred in Mesopotamian religions, and in ancient Egypt it represented immortality.

The Judeo-Christian symbolism of the palm tree is based primarily on Psalm 91:13: “The righteous blooms like a palm tree.”
In 1675 the pen of W. H. Baron von Hoberg composed:

“Palm tree produces nothing useless:
and fruit, and juice, oil, bark, leaves;
The pious, and to serve him cook diligently,
for the word of God is followed by works. “


The Egyptians placed palm twigs on sarcophagi and mummies, with which Jesus was greeted when he entered Jerusalem (the Christian holiday Palm Sunday replaces palm leaves with willow twigs).

From early Christian times, palm leaves have been depicted as a “victory palm” – a stylistic combination with lily and vine motifs. The “Victory Palm” was a symbol of the martyr and Paradise, which he longs for in the suffering and end of the world.


The palm tree is richly significant in Islamic culture, and the palm tree symbolizes rest and hospitality in many cultures of the Middle East. The presence of palm trees around an oasis showed that water is a gift from Allah.
In the Qur’an, the palm tree appears in the paradoxical images of the Garden (Jana). In a prophetic tradition, the Dome of the Rock will stand on a palm tree jutting out from one of the rivers of Paradise. It is said that Muhammad built his house from palm trees to lean on his palm as he spoke, and he erected the first mosque as a roof placed on palm trees.

The first muezzin climbed palm trees to call the faithful to the prayer from which the minaret developed. The Qur’an (19: 16-34) says that Mary gave birth to Jesus under a palm date.

In northern Sudan, the word palm is a symbol of endurance (doum) and in particular of the Muslim saint who gave his name to Wad Hamid.
The palm also appears on a number of coins from Islamic countries, such as the publication of Tunisian literature for 1 dinar in 1970 in honor of the Food and Agriculture Organization and several Iraqi coins from the 1970s.


Medal of Methias, Roman Emperor; Victory holds a palm branch

The palm tree served as the emblem of the German Baroque Society of Poets “Fruitful Society”, whose member was also the above-mentioned Baron von Hoberg and whose motto was “All for good”.

From the legend, according to which the palm tree grew under a weight imposed on it, originates the motto of the principality of Waldeck-Pyrmont “Palma sub pondere crescit“, the meaning of which is that from adversity it becomes stronger:

“It doesn’t bend the palm of gravity.
It overcomes it and the fruit brings the trunk thin.
With a prayer that believes in God’s righteousness,
sombre angels in distress will help him. “



The palm also has the name “phoenix”, which is a clear trace of the deification of a sun deity through the symbol of the palm tree (Helios, Apollo). The goddess Nike (Victoria of the Romans) was also depicted with a palm branch. The thin straight trunk and the magnificent crown emphasize rise, freedom, victory, rebirth – logically these attributes are associated with solar deities and goddesses of victory.

In Judaism a purple closed front of the palm date is part of the Sukkot festival. A palm branch was awarded to the victorious athletes in ancient Greece (More about Ancient Olympic games here), and the palm leaf or the tree itself is one of the most common attributes of Victory, embodied in ancient Rome.

Scientific Data

The palm tree is found more than 30 times in the Bible and at least 22 times in the Qur’an, which shows the widespread symbolic meaning of the tree. Due to the importance attached to it, it can be concluded that the expansion of human migrations in desert areas is due to the date palm not only as a religious trace and blessing, but also as a very real biological refuge in the heat in these areas. .

The date palm provides food that can be easily stored and carried for a long journey through the desert, it also provides shade and protection from desert winds. The palm is a good material for utensils and agricultural products, and its use can almost certainly be said to be at least 5,000 years old – since Mesopotamia and later in the Middle East for millennia, tuyere wood and dates have been used. This is evidenced by discovered archaeological artifacts such as pits for storing dates, and dates of palms in Mesopotamian sites.