The weeds in the field


“Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn” (NRSV, Matthew 13:30)

The Parable of the Weeds (Tares and Wheat) – the first of the great parables of the Judgement – was told by Our Blessed Lord while he was still in Galilee.  The plant referred to is the bearded darnel which attains a height equal to that of the wheat and barley.  The inner coats of darnel seeds often harbour poisonous fungal growths which, if eaten by humans or animals, cause vomiting, dizziness and sometimes even death. (1) Eventual separation of the darnel seeds and wheat is therefore essential.

In the early stages of growth the darnel and wheat are almost indistinguishable; it is only when the ears are formed that it is possible to see the difference.  But usually the plants are left growing together so as not to disturb the roots of the wheat which are intertwined with those of the darnel. (2,3)

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