Rubus sanctus is a perennial shrub that grows as a large thicket near water sources, in oases, on wadi banks, and in moist fields. The plant has no central stem; instead it produces long thin branches which can reach 5-6 feet in length. Branches have spiked thorns that bend downward. The flowers vary from pale to dark pink, followed by blackberries.
An instance of it can be found at the Chapel of the Burning Bush on Mount Sinai, where it is revered as the original burning bush of the Bible. This longevity and location lead to its Latin name. Derivation of the botanical name: Rubus - latin name for Blackberry, Raspberry; Sanctus - sacred.
The nature of the burning bush is a source of debate among botanists and Biblical scholars. Some believe that the burning bush was not a bush, but a figurative representation of a supernatural phenomenon. Others contend that God spoke through a natural bush.
Rubus sanctus is a symbol of God revealing himself to man. Reveal means to make known something that was secret or hidden and to open up to view. In the entire Old Testament nowhere does God reveal more about himself to one man than in the passage of the burning bush. In fact, this passage is sometimes called the Mosaic revelation of God about himself.
The St. Catherines Monastery spiritual heart is the Chapel of the Burning Bush, an unassuming structure of tremendous religious significance. According the oldest monastic tradition, this chapel sits atop the roots of the same Biblical bush "that burned with fire, and was not consumed" (Exodus 3:2) when God spoke to Moses for the first time. A few feet away from the Chapel is the reputed bush itself, a rare species called Rubus Sanctus. This species is endemic to Sinai and extremely long-lived, a fact that lends scientific credence to the site. The sprawling bush is said to have been transplanted in the tenth century, when the chapel was given a roof. Today, it is very large in size, and many monks and scholars agree that the bush's presence is the very reason St. Catherine's Monastery developed in the first place. See Article about this plant.