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                        The Biblical Tare & LSD
'For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have Everlasting Life' St. John 3:16 KJV



Drug Abuse in  Scripture and Other extra-Biblical Writings


The Ergot Spur (Claviceps) LSD-25 and the Lolium Rye Ζιζάνια ZizŠnia

The Biblical Tare of Saint Matthew's Gospel

Chapter 13: 24-40.

‘And the servants of the householder came and said unto him, “Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?” ’

St Matthew 13: 27 Cf. ASV, Mt. 13:27. KJV

In the Greek New Testament the Gospel Tare is cited as Ζιζάνια ZizŠnia, a lolium rye which grows as darnel among good wheat and is host to the parasitic fungal infection Claviceps tulasne (purpurea), the ergot mould, in which ergoline alkaloids, mainly derivatives of lysergic acid, can be found.

  Zizania op

Mt.13:27 Greek NT

 Latin Lolium temulentum ‘Drunken’

The Rye Grass Zizania. Lat. Lolium temulentum, the Biblical Tare ISBE  vol 5 p.2910  Public domain

Scan: The Biblical Tare from the International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia vol. 5 p.2910

Public domain

Ζιζάνια ZizŠnia, (singular -ον, sometimes αίρα aŪr-a Suidas. Lex.) of itself, is a harmless rye grass. The lolium rye is however host to the poisonous Ergot Spur, the parasitic fungal infection Claviceps. In the Jewish Talmud also called זוּנין zonin, indistinguishable from wheat until it heads at harvest. According to Jastrow’s Dictionary and Lexicon of Aramaic Hebrew in the Targums and Talmuds and Midrash Literature. vol. i, p.388 (1903) the name is derived from זוה זונה zűnh meaning ‘degenerate’ or ‘degraded’ though the roots in Hebrew mean literally ‘a harlot’, ‘unfaithful’. Jastrow p.388 (q.v.) (Internet Archive). In Greek cited also Apocalypse of Moses xvi:3.

Cf. A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament (Abbot-Smith) p.196. (Third edition 1936) with Hastings’ Bible Dictionary, vol. iv, p.678 (1902).

The Latin name for this darnel is Lolium temulentum, scientific and Latin 'drunken'. The Arabic cognates Zaw‚n (Ziw„n) or ZŻ'‚n (Zuw„n) are apparently Syriac loan words meaning 'nausea' or 'sickness' caused when the fungus infected rye kernels, containing ergoline alkaloids, mainly derivatives of lysergic acid, were inadvertently ingested.

Cf. A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the Hebrew Language p.196 (Ernist Klein, Hebrew University 1987) with Hastings’ Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels,, vol. ii p.697 (1908)

The term temulentum -us or ‘drunken’ was used by early Latin writers much influenced by the New Testament, a further indication that Christ's reference to the Biblical Tare or ζιζάνια ZizŠnia was understood as indicating an ergot infected grain.

The Ergot Spur (the parasitic Claviceps) was recognized by the Assyrians as long ago as c. 600 BC as a poisonous pustule. The lolium host Ζιζάνια ZizŠnia was  condemned by the Parsees (Zend Avesta) in about c. 350 BC as a noxious grass causing death and abortion. An inscription on an ancient Babylonian tablet from possibly as early as 2500 BC records that women who gathered ‘noxious grass’ (probably to procure abortion) were expelled from the city along with other ‘exorcists and mutterers of charms’. (Cited also Ergot to ‘Ernutin’, an Historical Sketch, Henry S. Wellcome, p.12 Chicago 1908. Internet Archive.) (Hofmann BDL p.103).

Photos: Ergot of Rye


The Ergot Spur is a poisonous parasitic fungus. It cannot be ingested without the serious effects of ergot poisoning  - ergotism - which can include convulsions, gangrenous loss of extremities and death itself.

The spur is easily detected by its acrid or pungent smell

Ergot in the Ear of Rye  (Clavicepts purpurea) All right reserved  EMB-Service

 Ergot du Seigle (Clavicepts purpurea) by  Dominique Jacquin 23 July 2008 Public domain


Ergot in the Ear of Rye

Clavicepts purpurea

initial growth

All rights reserved


Ergot of Rye

Clavicepts purpurea

fully grown

Public domain

The Gospel Tangental

In view of the above, as a point of some importance it must be recognized that  Christ’s reference to the tare in the Gospel Parable is not a reference to the hallucinogenic drug LSD-25 (Lysergic acid diethylamide) which, as an ingestible ergot derivative was not synthesized in the laboratory until 1938. The reference is tangental. The direct effects of the ergot poison, if ingested directly from the spur itself are both horrendous and sometimes fatal - see ergotism (Wikilink) - also some amides of lysergic acid, again closely related to the powerful hallucinogenic LSD-25 can be found in the seeds of several species of Morning Glory, mainly Ololiuqui Badoh.

The late Professor Hofmann first synthesized LSD in 1938 whilst researching the medicinal uses of the ergot fungus. The psychoactive properties of the derived LSD-25 were not however fully realized until 1943 when Dr. Hofmann himself inadvertently absorbed a small amount through the skin.

In the Gospel the fungus infected rye was separated from the good wheat at harvest and bound in bundles to be burned  - the archaic Biblical term ‘tare’ itself is most probably derived through Med. Latin from Arabic tarhah meaning ‘that rejected’ (CED) - and it is in this sense only that Christ spoke of the Biblical tare, as that which resembles wheat yet bears poison in the field of the world as an offensive crop adulteration. (Cf. Saint Matthew Chapter 13:27-40).

For the concept of LSD and the Medieval Witch Hysteria see page

The Medieval Concept

For further info. on crop adulteration in Bible times and the Gospel allegory see eBook chapter

From Whence Hath it Tares?



Gathering Tares from Wheat

Gathering Tares from Wheat at Bethel  Vester and Co Jerusalem 1900-1920 Public Domain

This unique photo was taken by the photographers of the American Vester & Co. Jerusalem about 1900-1920 and originally bore the caption

 Gathering Tares from the Wheat at Bethel.

Taken before the introduction of the crop spray and modern fungicides it must have captured one of the last times that tares were ever separated by hand from wheat in Palestine.

Public domain

Library of Congress Catalogue: (PPOC)

No known restrictions on publication


For other drugs and poisons in Scripture and the Early and Mediaeval periods including Mandragora (the Biblical ‘love apples’), drug induced abortion, the atropines, the ‘spiced wines’ of Old Testament times and a possible cannabis:



FREE eBOOK Drug Abuse in Scripture.


Credits: (i) Ergot in the Ear of Rye (Clavicepts purpurea) initial growth

Reproduced under license EMB-Service, Lucerne, Switzerland, from R. E. Schults and Albert Hofmann’s Botanic Drug Lexicon Plants of the Gods, Healing Arts Press 1992.

All rights reserved

: (ii) Ergot of Rye (Clavicepts purpurea) fully developed

by  Dominique Jacquin (Ergot du Seigle) 23 July 2008

Public domain


Biblical & Lexicon Source Index

(i) International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, (ISBE) 1960, vol v, p.2910.(EErdmans)  (ii) New Bible Dictionary,1962, p.1238. (IVF) (iii) Hastings’ Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels,1908, vol ii p.697. (iv) Hastings’ Bible Dictionary, 1902, vol iv, p.678 (v). A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament, 1977, p.196. G. Abbott-Smith. (T&T Clark) (vi) Ergot to ‘Ernutin’, an Historical Sketch, Henry S. Wellcome,  p.12 Chicago 1908.  (vii) Hofmann BDL (Plants of the Gods) p.103. (viii) A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the Hebrew Language p.196, Ernist Klein, Hebrew University 1987.  (ix) A Dictionary of the Targumim, the Talmud Babli, and Yerushalimi, and the Midrashie Literature. Marcus Jastrow. New York & London 1903. (x) A Greek-English Lexicon p.756, Liddell & Scott, Oxford. Edition 1976. (xi) A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament  and Other Early Christian Literature, W. F. Arndt & F. W. Gingrich,  p.340. University of Chicago Press 1957


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[Drugs in Scripture] [Babylon the Great] [Jezebel] [Ishtar of Nineveh] [Golgotha] [The Fallen Angels] [The Early Church] [Luke the Physician] [The Biblical Tare] [The Medieval Concept] [Lexicon] [Concordance] [Bible Search] [Legal] [Disclaimer] [eBook Contents] [Download]

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Stem Rust Fungus (Puccinia graminis) Public domain


Stem Rust Fungus

Puccinia graminis

 Public domain

The ergot fungal infection Claviceps purpurea as delineate in Scripture (the Biblical Tare mold) must not be confused with the emergent wheat disease Ug99, a virulent strain of black Stem Rust fungus (Puccinia graminis) (also once known to the Romans) and which re-emerged in Uganda in 1999.

Unlike the ergot mold, Ug99 or Stem Rust fungus is harmless to humans. (New Scientist 03 April 2007). It can however devastate an entire crop and now represents a serious threat to world food supplies. Although easily removed with modern fungicides scientists are now working at full speed to develop a resistant strain to avert the threat.

For further info. on Ug99 please visit

New Scientist 03 April 2007


Zizania aquatica ‘Wild Rice’



Wild Rice in Minnesota

Public domain

Zizania aqatica or ‘wild rice’ (sometimes ‘water oats’) native to the Great Lakes area of North America and long a staple diet of the native Indians.

Update October 2013

Zizania aquatica is now also said to be sometimes subject to the parasitic ergot infection Claviceps Zizaniae

For further info. on Zizania aquatica please visit



Zea mays (PSC)

Lastly it must be noted that there is  no connection between the psychoactive properties of the poisonous ergot mold and the  psc ‘psychedelic’, a new mutant of maize (Zea mays) so-called only from the colourful chlorotic and green tissue it exhibits. The mutant has possible biofuel applications.


Zea Mays

Public domain

For further info. on PSC or Zea mays please visit

GSA Genetics