From Cedar to Hyssop
Most of the information given in this book on the folk lore and folk uses of plants in Palestine comes from the rich store of local knowledge gathered by Miss Baldensperger during her long life in the country. The greater part of her life, as she tells us, has been spent in Artas, which is a Moslem village near Bethlehem. Her relations with the village folk are so friendly and sympathetic and their affection and respect for her so marked that it is a delight to witness them. It adds not a little to the value of this book that the details in it come from the observation of years spent among the people rather than from the investigations of a passing student. Though the field of her research has been narrow, much of the material holds good for other parts of the country, and for Moslems, Christians and the older communities of Jews alike, either because it is primitive and common to all dwellers in the land of Canaan or because one community borrows from the other.
In the case of the plants used in medicine I have observed a wider application still, for many of them and their uses are similar to those given in the old herbals, especially in quotations from Dioscorides. The reason for this may be that Dioscorides derived some of his knowledge from the same common body of Mediterranean folk lore that we find here still surviving in Palestine, or it may be that the present folk medicine has come down from a time when the Greek herbals were used in the land, a suggestion that Dr. Singer (to the inspiration of whose writings much of this part of my work is due) considers is by far the most probable. I have made what research I could in tracing these plants in the old herbals and have added notes taken from them wherever the resemblance seemed most certain. The references to Gerarde's Herbal are from the edition of 1633 unless otherwise stated.
I am responsible for the writing of the book, the drawings and the photographs (except where otherwise stated), for the actual wording of the translations, and the transliteration, a simple one, but I hope sufficient for the purpose. I have to thank Mr. E. and Mr. P. Baldensperger for notes on Bee plants, Mr. Haddad for assistance with the transliteration, and Mr. Stephan for help with the elucidation of proverbs and songs. We are much indebted to Mr. Dinsmore and The Royal Herbarium at Kew for the identifications of certain plants, and to the Botanical Department of the Hebrew University for facilities so kindly given in their fine Herbarium and for much valued help and encouragement. Our acknowledgements are also due to the Journal of the Palestine Oriental Society for leave to reprint the chapter on the Rose of Jericho and to the Palestine Exploration Society for leave to reprint that on the Hyssop, and also for the use of two blocks. Of writers on local folk lore we owe much to Dr. Dalman, Dr. Canaan, Canon Hanauer and Mre. Einsler. Finally we feel sincere gratitude to Mrs. Herbert Clark, of Jerusalem, for her interest and help, not only in inviting us to work at her house, but also by herself sharing in our discussions and contributing much of her own knowledge of Palestinian life.
May the readers of this book feel some of the pleasure that the authors had in the making of it.
Grace M. Crowfoot
Jerusalem, May, 1931.
How did you make the acquaintance of the wild vegetation? and how is it that you are living at Artas on the border of the desert? I have often been asked these questions.
My father came to Artas in 1848 as a missionary, a worker on the land, to show to people the Christian spirit; two years later my mother joined him; both came from Alsace, France. But soon Bishop Gobat called them to the orphanage on Mount Zion as steward and matron. The little house and property in the lovely village of Artas was kept and we often went there, spending our holidays out in the country. The whole family were lovers of outdoor life and we all observed and knew what every month brings forth in fruits and wild flowers and vegetables, and learnt their uses, medicinal and edible, and heard tales of plants that once could speak and other folk lore. My brothers lived at Artas for a time, but afterwards left agricultural work and began bee keeping; they were the first to introduce the movable hive system into Palestine. They searched for honey producing plants; when the orange blossom at Jaffa was over they would carry their hives to the cactus at Ramleh, then further to the mint family which is at Bab el Wad, then to the Gaza region where the wild acacia grows, and latest in the year, to the hills for the wild thyme. After 45 years of labour on Mount Zion the old parents and I came back to our own little house at Artas, where the wild flowers are so near at hand and where the people know so much about them. I still live there and my work is still among the wild plants from which I draw my living, making collections of plants mentioned in the Bible, Herbariums for schools, and little card souvenirs of the Holy Land.
When Mrs. Crowfoot, the lover of plants, came to visit me at Artas, the day that a woman brought me the plant of Miriamiya and told how the Virgin Mary blessed this plant, that day we planned to gather up all we could of the plant folk lore and write it down. So to all lovers of plants
I recommend this little book.
A daughter of Zion living in Solomon's Garden
Artas, May 18th, 1931 (Moharrem. Moslem New Year).
 Pedanius Dioscorides was one of the greatest of the ancient herbalists. He was a native of Anazarba in Cilicia Campestris and flourished in the early part of the second half of the first century of our era.
 Certain words, often repeated in the text, such as Artas, fellah, henna, are not always transliterated, but appear as Artas, fellah, henna, being taken as if they had passed into English speech. No attempt is made to show some of the pecularities of the dialect of Artas; for insteance the villagers often use k for q and ch for k, although they laugh at northerners for doing the same thing.
 Artas is the traditional site of the gardens of Solomon. The village lies in the fertile valley below the Pools of Solomon.