Catholics in Cagayan de Oro City, for instance, were advised by Archbishop Antonio Ledesma to use “any tree branch or leaves” to symbolize Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. For Catholics, this event signals the start of Holy Week. (Read: Vatican Releases Guidelines for Holy Week 2021)
In case you can’t get a hold of palaspas this Palm Sunday, turn to your garden— or any of these five alternative plants!
Plants You Can Use as Palaspas: Olive
Aside from being a symbol of peace, the olive branch has long been regarded as a holy plant. Some homes traditionally bless their Easter meals by dipping an olive branch in holy water. Olive branches were what Franciscan friars donning facemasks and surgical gloves handed out to housebound Christians in Jerusalem when COVID-19 struck during Holy Week 2020.
In history, olive branches were braided into crowns that the Greeks placed on the heads of winning athletes. And let’s not forget the dove that brought back an olive branch to Noah—a clear indication that the Great Flood had finally subsided!
Plants You Can Use as Palaspas: Box Elder
Otherwise known as a maple tree, this species native to the United States and Canada is a fast-growing, short-lived tree with opposite, compound leaves. (Read: 5 Flowering Plants That Are Easy to Propagate Indoors)
Interestingly, this alternative to the palm branch is also a symbol of spirituality in other cultures. The Cheyenne, a group of Native Americans, burn the wood of the box elder for incense and concocting spiritual medicines.
Plants You Can Use as Palaspas: Pussy Willow
In Northern and Eastern European countries where palms don’t grow, the pussy willow has been used as a substitute for palms on Palm Sunday. (Read: 5 Plants You Should Never Buy From Stores)
“Besides the obvious fact that there are not a lot of palm trees growing in Estonia, because the pussy willow is one of the first plants to bloom in the spring means that it has come to symbolize new life and resurrection,” says ordained minister Michael Stewart Williams in his eponymous blog.
Plants You Can Use as Palaspas: Japanese or Chinese Silver Grass
Regarded as an eco-friendly alternative to palm, the locally grown ornamental grass was what parishioners of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Society Hill, Philadelphia, PA, waved during Palm Sunday 2018. Described as a thin-bladed plant, it grows to be tall, wispy, and green in the summer, and turns beige in the colder months.
Plants You Can Use as Palaspas: Spruce
An evergreen with short blue-green waxy leaves, the spruce produces seed cones instead of flowers. (Read: Hey, We Might Have New Varieties of Gumamela, Hoya Plants Soon!)