They were Dead Sea fruit, turning to ashes in the mouth.
~~ Hornblower and the Hotspur by C.S. Forester
My love for the Horatio Hornblower series of novels knows no bounds. One phrase always struck me as despositive of the entire series — dead sea fruit. the phrase refers to something that appears to be beautiful or full of promise, but is in reality nothing but illusion and disappointment.
There is an actual plant which produces dead sea fruit. Also known as the Sodom Apple plant it grows in the hot oases around the Dead Sea and Jordan Valley regions. It is not a ‘human friendly’ plant, touching it can result in a rash as the sap of the plant is a skin irritant, while the juice is highly poisonous. The fruits are deceptive in nature. From the outside they look edible, but they are anything but – inside the fruit there is nothing but fluffy white fibres and poisonous black seeds. The plant is as dishonest and as accursed as the sinners of the city of Sodom.
This is a WIP (work in progress) of the botanical dead sea fruit.