From Cedar to Hyssop
IV. Plants with Folk Uses
I. Fuel and Tinder Plants
Poterium Spinosum L. Billan; Netish. Thorny Burnet. (Pl. 35).
Retama Roetam Forsk. Retem. White Broom. (Pl. 36).
Noea Spinosissima L. Surr; Thirr. (Pl. 37).
Ononis Natrix L. Baswi. Yellow Rest Harrow. (Pl. 38).
Helichrysum Sanguineum L. Şoufan. (Pl. 39).
Phagnalon Rupestre L. Soufan. (Pl. 40).
Billan, or Netish, the "thorn that crackles under the pot," crackles also famously in the limekilns, where fierce fires are required. It grows everywhere in rocky ground, the soft pink of its fruits contrasting beautifully with the pale grey thorns, a joy to behold until the heats of summer dry the bushes and ripen the seeds and it is ready for the furnace. Then the sight of the tangle of forking thorns confirms the justice of its favourite name of Nefish, "Scratcher." One would think it a difficult matter to make such crooked branches into a portable bundle at all, but the clever wood gatherers contrive to build up a neat, flattish round packet and balance it on their heads and piles of such packets can be seen outside every village in the late summertime.
Well may they sing of the carrier as buried in the cruel thorns!
Well may they repeat the rhyme of the reapers:
"O would that thorns were not seen nor created nor existing!"
(Ya ret el shok ma ban – Wala t khallak wala kan).
Yet the girls vie with one another as to who can carry most on their heads, till they look like trees walking, and they have their reward not only in the appreciation of their labours at home, but in the admiration of young men on the look out for the ideal peasant's wife, a strong bearer of burdens. This admiration finds expression in an amusing little verse celebrating the Baswi (Ononis natrix), Shiĥ (Artemisia herba alba) and Surr (Noea spinosissima): 
"The wood carrier of the Baswi isn't worth five farthings;
The wood carrier of the Shih is worth a hundred whale piastres;
'l'he wood carrier .of the Surr is worth ninety and nine slaves and a perfect man."
(Hattabat el baswi khams igta' ma betiswa
Hattabat el shih tiswa mit qirsh el sahih
Hattabat el surr tiswa tisa' w tis'in abid w hurr).
The meaning of that is that she who has the energy to go down into the desert to gather the Surr, the best fuel going, is a lass worthy of a handsome husband, and ninety and nine slaves to do her bidding.
Dalman gives another song, similarly chaffing the wood gatherers,
"She who gathers Alende (Ephedra), how shameless she is;
The fool brings Awarwe (Mullein) far brushwood,
But my brushwood is Kertam (Ballota) and Shih (Artemisia).
Put the brushwood, put the small wood on the fire,
All save that named with the name of the Beautiful One, Do not burn that!"
The allusion in this case is to a girl's name, 'Adbe – it is 'Adbe that must not be burnt, i.e., Zygophyllum dumasum.
It will perhaps strike the reader here what very small firewood is being spoken of; indeed, the small brushwood gives a fierce heat and is reckoned good to cook with by the people, thaugh when it comes to serious baking a larger plant than those yet mentioned is preferred to heat the oven, the White Broom, Retem (Retama roetam); it is most popular for the purpose because it keeps its heat so long. These folk rhymes we have been quoting, as ever, speak of a Primitive way of life – the sort of milieu where a light may be obtained by striking flint and steel on to tinder made from the fluff of pappus on the seeds of certain small 'everlasting' flowers (Plates 39, 40) and where all cooking is done on little open fires. They reck not of life in houses where good wood and coal are burnt for comfort and kitchen. As the standard of life rises and the European (or the Europeanized) population of Palestine increases so does the need of the warmth of good fires and trees fall ever far this need. It is good that in these latter days Europeans are beginning to realise that they aught to give as well as take, witness the forest nurseries and young plantations of olive trees. May consciences grow tenderer still .and hands more apt to plant than to uproot!
II. Plants with Amusing Names, Proverbs or Uses
Adonis palaestina, Boiss. (Ranunculaceae). 'Ain el Biss. Pheasant's Eye.
Pheasant's Eye never seems adequate for this brilliant flower, but really Cat's Eye ('Ain el Biss) seems to argue colour blindness on any who can so confound green and red. Those see perhaps better who call it the Blood Drop.
Alcea acaulis, Cav. (Malvaceae). Khutmia; Khubz el 'Adra. Mallow.
These names are given to several mallows. Virgin's Bread (Khubz el 'Adra) is said of the fruit, eaten by children in Palestine as the 'cheeses' of aor mallows are by children in England.
Arisarum vulgare, Targ (Aroideae), Siraj el Ghule (Witches Lamp).
The siraj is the clay lamp of olden days which still survives in the little pinched up types used for offerings at the tombs of Sheikhs and other shrines. If the calyx of this arum be held sideways it will look rather like this shape, with the pistil standing out like the wick.
Ammi Visnaga, L. (Umbelliferae). Khilleh.
This umbellifer with large heads of white flowers grows in masses an the fallows of the plains, making fine foraging far the bees. The fruiting pedicels are used as toothpicks.
There is an illustration in Gerarde of "Spanish Tooth Pick Chervil," which looks very like this plant. He says, "It is reported among the Bastard names to be called by the Romans Bisacutum, of which name some show remains among the Syrians who commonly call the latter, Gingidium, Visnaga, this is named in English Tooth Pick Chervil. ... The hard quills wheron the seeds do grow are good to cleanse the teeth and gums and do easily take away all filth and baggage sticking in them, without any hurt unto the gums, as followeth after many other Toothpicks, and they leave a good scent or savour in the mouth." All of which is very well known to Palestinians to this day.
Anacyclus radiatus, Loisel (Compositae) Beisum.
A yellow daisy whose petals are thrown for their fragrance into sour milk and clarified butter (leben and semn).
Artedia squamata, L. (Umbelliferae) Drehme.
The name here comes from dirhem, ar drachma, a coin, because of the seeds, which are large and round; the name is also given to Tordylium AEgyptiacum, Daucus carota and other Umbelliferaus plants for the same reason. There is an amusing proverb said of the Wild Carrot: "You are like the monkey in the Drehme" (Ente zey qird el drehme), said to a conceited person, or one who likes to make himself conspicuous in company. The "qird," or "little black monkey" is the little dark purple flower in the centre of the white ones, which though small is conspicuous because of its colour.
Ballota undulata, Fresen (Labiatae). Kerian; Kariamm. Fetid Horehound.
This Horehound has not a very pleasant smell though it is considered good for washing out milk pails with. The dry calices were it is said once used for the wicks of clay lamps. They are used sometimes nowadays for nightlights; turned upside down floating on oil, the stalk serves as the wick.
Calycotome villosa, Vahl (Leguminoseae) Qundol; Qundel.
The sweet yellow flowers are put into sour milk and clarified butter (leben and semn). Dalman says that the name means a lamp and refers to the shining yellow flowers.
Convolvulus sp. (Convolvulaceae). Madada; Muddede.
This is a name given to all plants of this kind, it means the "Spreaders."
Cuminum cyminum, L. (Umbelliferae). Kammun. Cumin.
"Abu Kammuni" is said of a stingy person because the fruiting head of the plant closes over like a closed hand. It is amusing that the Cumin had also a similar application among the Ancient Greeks. The mean and stingy were called 'cumin splitters' (it is said that Marcus Aurelius was so nicknamed because of his avarice), but this was an allusion, not to the 'grasping hand' of the plant, but to its minute seed, as is also the Biblical "tithe of mint and anise and cumin."
Cuscuta sp. (Convolvulaceae). Sha'r el Ajaiz (Old Women's Hair). Dodder.
Dodder with its tangle of reddish thread like stems looks to the fellahin like the hair of an old lady dyed with henna. This colour is admired by them, but even more by the Bedu. Pere Jaussen says: "Among the Bedu the favourite colour for hair is russet bordering on red (roux tirant sur le rouge). 'But black is more beautiful,' I said to the Bedouin. 'For the eyes.' he answered, 'but for the hair, it must be the colour of henna." So the women wash their hair in camel's urine to make it reddish.
Daucus carota, L. (Umbelliferae), Shemsiyet el Rahib (Monk's Sunshade. Wild Carrot.
The name is given from the shape of the umbel of white flowers, spread out like a parasol.
Erodium gruinum, L. (Geraniaceae). Ibret el Ajuz. Blue Cranes Bill. (Plate 41).
The name of Old Lady's Needle (Ibret el Ajuz) is given because the long beaked seed vessel suggests the large needle suited to the old lady's failing eyesight; another name is Shepherd's Needle (Ibret el Ra'i).
Euphorbia sp. Haleib el Bum (Owl's Milk).
A name given because of the milky juice of these plants.
Lepidium chalepense, L. (Cruciferae). Carnebiet el djaj. (Chickens Cauliflower).
The round white heads of flowers suggest a tiny cauliflower.
Linum usitatissimum, L. (Lineae). Kittan. Flax.
Flax, for which Palestine was once famous, is now hardly cultivated at all, except for its seed; it is sometimes found wild. The only proverb we know about it is one used of a stupid, lethargic person.
"Her blood is as thick as a linseed poultice"
(Dammha itqil zey lazqa bizr el kittan).
Marrubium vulgare, L. (Labiatae), Kriha; Horehound.
As the Arabic name shows, this plant is 'despised', which is curious, because it is, as with us in Europe, considered medicinal and useful.
MIedicago orbicularis, All (Leguminoseae). Dredra; Im tabaq Ter. Medick. (Plate 43, p. 68).
These names refer to the seed pod, coiled round and round, 'dredra' from durr to roll, or turn round, and 'Im tabaq ter' (Mother of a Birds' Tabaq), referring to a dish called 'Imtabaq' which has layers of dough and cheese and fruit. 'Tabaq' itself is a round dish, or dish cover, in coiled basketry. Both these names are applied to other Medicks, especially to Medicago denticulata, Willd, and to Gerarde's 'Moon Trefoil,' Hymenocarpus circinnatus, L.
Onobrychis cristagalli, L. (Leguminoseae). Durreis. Cock's Comb Onobrychis. (Plate 42).
"El Durreis ma bit amin el Ghally" (the Durreis does not trust in the corn).
This proverb is always said of one who does not trust in Providence but is over careful, 'You are like the Durreis,' because the plant always has the old seed visible at the root. She will not trust in the harvest to come, but keeps the old seed by her.
Ononis antiquarum L. (Leguminaseae). Shibriq; Shibruq. A Rest Harrow, with pink flowers and long thorns.
Proverb: "You are like the camel eating shibriq with his eye an another thorn" (Ente zey el jemel ille boqul el shibriq w 'ainuh 'ala gher shok). This is said of a greedy person with much the same sense as the English saying, "A gooseberry in the mouth, one in the hand, and another in the eye"
Opuntia Ficus Indica, Haw (Cactaceae), Subbeir. Prickly Pear.
The Subbeir is often used punningly in sayings about patience, in the same kind of sense as the African "Wait a Bit Thorn." Here is also a quite modern saying which seems to have spread about in a remarkable way, referring to an Englishman called Thomson, who is reputed to have always picked all the seeds out before he would eat a prickly pear. It is said of any too particular behaviour, or too carping criticism, "Like Thomson's Prickly Pear" (Zey Subbeir el Thomson), i.e., "there will be nothing left of it if you pick it to bits like that."
Pallenis spinasa, L. (Campositae), 'ishbet el Dabwe (Plant of the Tarantula).
So called because of the sharp scales of the involucre which stick nut round the yellow daisy flower like a spider's legs. Because 'dabwe' also mean sores, some think that it has virtue for healing them.
Papaver rhaeas, L. Khash Khash (Rattle). Corn Poppy.
The capsule with the dry seeds in it resembles a child's rattle; another name is the Fortune Teller (El Bukheite), because children play a game with the buds, picking one and asking it a question before they tear it open. The first question in the game is, "Is my father's horse red or white?" and the colour inside the bud gives the answer.
Paranychia argentea, Lam. (Paronychieae). Ijer el hammam (Dove's Feet).
This is a prostrate plant with a silvery fuzz of scarious calyx lobes, and slightly fleshy stems. Children will eat the tips of these stems when young, and because they are red at the joints, they give the plant the name of Feet of the Dove, that blessed bird, who always has henna on her feet. And why does the dove always have henna on her feet?
Because when Noah sent forth a raven and a dove from the Ark, the raven never came back. Therefore this curse was put upon him, "May your face be black as night," and he was eternally condemned to fill a sieve with water. "Qwak, Qwak," he cries, "I have filled it, I have filled it" (Maletuh, Maletuh), but he lies. This is why they say in the village to one who is false, "You are like the raven who never brought back the answer, O black faced one!" (Ente zey el ghorab ille ma biraja el jawab, ya wij el asmar). But the dove returned, and therefore Noah blessed her with every blessing, saying, "May you every month have a pair of young ones" and "May your face far ever shine white." And since that time the dove is born with henna on her feet.
Petroselinum sativum, L. (Umbelliferae). Baqdunis. Parsley.
Cultivated but sometimes escapes and is found wild. The following proverb really refers more to the soil than to parsley. It is said of a stupid person, "He has a mind so thick that you could plant parsley in it" (aqlu ghaleed tizra el baqdunis fi).
Ricinus cammunis, L. (Euphorbiaceae). Kharwa'. Castor Oil Plant.
This plant grows wild in the Jordan valley and other warm places in the country. It is not to be called a popular medicine in any sense of the word. This proverb about it refers to its spreading habit and is said to anyone who takes up too. much room, "You are like the castor oil plant on the canal bank" (Ente zey el kharwa' fil qana). 'Qana' is used for canals or any small aqueduct used for irrigation, it is thought to be a word left in the country by the Crusaders.
Solanum nigrum, L. (Solanaceae). Black Nightshade. Bandoret el Haya. Serpent's Tomataes. \
Trifolium gloabosum, L. (Leguminaseae). Neflet Qutn. Catton Clover.
The allusion in the name is to the fruiting head, especially the variety eriosphaerum, Post, in which the calices became densely woolly, looking just like fluffy little balls of cotton.
Urginea marittima, L., Liliaceae. Unsul; Basel; Basalan; Kharif.
Readers may wonder why we have not put the Squill among the medicinal plants considering its European reputation, but we have come across no case of its use in our district. The fine spikes of white flowers appear in autumn, therefore it is often said in speaking of that season, 'when the Squill flowers.' The leaves come later, in the winter; where, as on the coast lands and Birsheba way, the bulbs are allowed to grow in rows on the boundaries, they make fine dark green lines on the bare plain.
The aspect of the flowering Squill is taken in Artas and elsewhere to be a presage of the coming season .of rains and seed time. Canaan says that from the way in which it blossoms the peasant believes he can foretell whether the winter or summer crops will be good or bad. "He holds that the blossoming may take place at three distinct periods (called rabtat or bruj). If the first period is marked by abundant blossoms it is a good omen for the winter crops. Abundant blossoming of the third rabtah is a sign of a good summer crop."
This exactly agrees with the account given by Theophrastus, in the 4th century B.C.: "In Squill it is the stem proper which thus appears, and presently the flower appears emerging from it and sitting on it. And it makes three flowerings, of which the first appears to mark the first seed time, the second the middle one, and the third the last one; accordingly as these flowerings have occurred so the crops usually turn out.
Verbascum tripolitanum. Boiss. (Scrophulariaceae). Awarwar. Mullein.
This mullein has yellow flowers and woolly stems; the woolly down is considered dangerous if it gets into the eyes, hence its name, which means 'blindness,' and mothers warn their children not to go near the plant. In spite of this, or perhaps because of this children seem interested in the plant and sing rhymes about it, asking it why it nods its head. "Is your Grandmather dead?" they say, and the tall MuUein, trembling as ever in the wind, nods its head sadly in reply.
Viscum cruciatum. Sieb. (Loranthaceae). Enab. Red Mistletoe,
This mistletoe has bright red berries and grows chiefly on alive trees. A fellaha met on Mount Scopus one day told us that the berries were put into olive oil sometimes to improve the colour and ate several of them to prove to us that they were not harmful.
III. Dead Sea Apples
When we asked fellahin about Dead Sea Apples they said to us, "The plain is full of cursed plants, empty apples and serpents' grapes." When questioned further about this or that plant they became vague and readily agreed that it might be either of the two usual claimants, Calotropis ar Solanum; their idea was really a general one, covering all the uncanny and unprofitable plants that might grow on that cursed soil.
We will give here what lore we can of these claimants and a third, the Colocynth, and readers shall decide for themselves which best deserves the title.
Citrullus Colocynthis, L., Handal. Bitter Cucumber.
The Colocynth has been taken by some to be the fruit of Sodom, because it trails on the ground, vine-like ("for their vine is of the vine of Sodom and of the fields of Gamorrah"), and when dry the gourds may be imagined to contain 'smoke and ashes.' But the plant is not peculiar to the Dead Sea region, being found on other plains in Palestine, and it does not seem to be regarded by the people as at all uncanny. The gourds have a sale, and Jaffa is one of the traditional places of export. But though their medicinal use is quite well known it is not favoured locally, the purge is too drastic and dangerous. One tale we heard of its use is rather amusing. An Englishman who has spent much time out in the desert, and has good command of the language, noticed a Beduin who was travelling in his company gathering some colocynth gourds. Understanding from the man that it was to be used as a purge, he asked to be allowed to see exactly how the medicine was concocted and administered. Arrived in camp, he watched the boiling of the shells in water, and then looked to see the nauseous draught go down. To his utter surprise the Beduin put the brew into a pan and immersed his heels in it for a time, vowing that this manner of application was highly efficacious! Indeed it probably had the value of a mustard bath.
We have heard of no other local uses, save these, that the dried shells of the gaurds are good to lay among clothes, being much disliked by the moth, and among lentils, to keep away insects.
Solanum incanum, L. Khadak. Dead Sea Apple. (Syn. S. Coagulans, Forsk. S. sanctum, ,etc.). (Plate 44).
The prickly low bushes of this Solanum grow near Jericho, and in the wadis about the Dead Sea. It has purple flowers, followed by small yellow fruit, like little apples. These keep their shape somewhat when dry, and may be found, when some insect has been at work on the seeds, to be literally full of dust. The people know the fruit to be poisonous and they do not use it in any way, so far as we know.
This is the Ethiopian Apple of some of the old herbalists, and indeed it does also grow in Ethiopia. The deep chasm of the Dead Sea and Jordan valley is full of tropical plants, recalling that country, and the very illustrations we are using for this Solanum and the Calotropis were drawn from specimens in the Sudan.
Calotropis procera, Willd. 'Ushr. 'Ushr. Dead Sea Apple. (Asclepia gigantea). (Fruit, Beid cl 'Ushr, i.e., Eggs of the 'Ushar,). (Plate 45).
The tall bushes of the Calotropis, some 15 feet high, are much more striking to the eye than those of the Solanum; the leaves are large and thick, the flower is a strange waxy white and mauve, and the fruit is ,also more imposing; it has large obovate follicles, first green then yellowish, and filled with silky fibres, Some think that the way the ripe seeds puff forth when the fruit is opened, floating away like perfect little parachutes, may have suggested the 'smoke and ashes' ,of the ancient writers. Otherwise it does not seem to fit the part so well as the Solanum. Dalman says indeed that the Beduin regard them as "bewitched lemons," but so far as our observations go they find it has some uses. P. Baldensperger says of it, "Far from the Asclepia gigantea being associated with the idea of death and destruction, it was, to Sa'ad's mind, the symbol of life. 'Was not its name,' he asked me, 'Oshair, - the pregnant-maker, and had not a barren woman once sat within the shade of the tree and soon after had a child?' And to prove that life was indeed its essential element, he showed me how a thick milky juice could be made to flow from the plant like opium from the poppy."
Pere Jaussen mentions also the same idea, saying that Beduin women rub their bodies with the milk of the Sodom apple, the 'ushr, believing that, thanks to the treatment, conception will become easy. He also tells how among the nomads the burnt wood enters into the composition of a powder; the milk is used as a remedy against sterility in women and mares, and the down is used for stuffing cushions." We have heard too a most unlikely tale that the down was once used for spinning; it is not quite impossible, but a more refractory thread fibre for the purpose can hardly be found. A similar story is told of another Asclepiad, also growing in the same region, the Gomphocarpus, that the fibre from its follicles was used in olden days to spin the thread for the robes of the priests of the Samaritans at Nablus. These two plants got dreadfully mixed by the old herbalists and it is amusing to meet our 'ushr, in some of their arguments recognizable under the names of Ossar and Beidelsar.
IV. Bee Plants (Plates 46, 47).
Village beekeeping in Palestine is a constant source of surprise and interest to newcomers in the country. The bees are housed in clay pipes built up into stacks, placed usually inside the village in courtyards or on low roofs, and they often have a very picturesque appearance. They are like the beehives of Egypt, which go back, we know from a basrelief at the Temple of Abusir, to at least 2600 B.C., but in Egypt the pipes are made of reed mats plastered with clay, while here the tubes are made of clay mixed with straw. In both cases the ends of the tubes are sealed up with mud plaster, and one small hole only is left for the bees to go in and out. The honey is taken by blowing smoke into a tube and driving the bees out of it; it is often of excellent quality, but marred by dirt owing to primitive methods of dealing with the comb.
It is a great sin to kill a bee; recently a robber broke into a courtyard in a village by night and burnt out a hive, killing the bees to get the honey, and this was reckoned a terrible thing. The fellah who told the tale said bitterly, "There is no religion in this village any more."
Bees love cleanliness, and those who tend them should have clean hands and a pure heart. The anger bees show against some individuals may be due either to some defect in their character, such as anger, or their dress, which should preferably be white and clean, or to an obnoxious smell – they detest people who perspire much. In spite of these primitive hives, bees, seem able to live healthily in them; at least there is no record of disease before the introduction of infected bees from South Russia. But the system has one great defect: the hives arc fixed, and the crop is therefore limited to what the bees can get near the village. Nowadays modern beekeeping is spreading in Palestine, in the Jewish colonies, and among the Arabs too. It was all started by the Baldensperger brothers with their introduction of the first movable hives in 1880. They were the first to have the brilliant idea of carrying their hives about, from the coast to the hills, and so assuring a crop of honey all through the season, and many were their adventures on beginning to put the idea into practice.
When the time came to take the bees from the orange blossom of Jaffa to the thymy uplands they bound the hives on a camel and proposed to travel by night while the bees were asleep, and rest and let them forage by day. But one night they miscalculated and had to travel on till dawn. The bees began to escape from the hives and the camel bolted – down went the hives on to the ground, out came the swarms, and the beekeepers ran for their lives. It was not till dusk that they got the angry population back into their homes and were able to continue their journey through the darkness. Another disaster happened one year when the bees were being conveyed to their summer camp by a cart. The brothers, having much household stuff to carry too, piled the bedding on top of the hives. To their horror when they unpacked on arrival all the bees were dead – suffocated. But the brood, could that be saved? Hastily getting horses they rode off to the village of the beekeepers, the Nahali, and bought some clay tubes full of bees. When they returned the smell of the dead bees in dozens of hives was terrible, no sooner, however, had they introduced the tubes when the good little bees began cleaning up at once. They removed the corpses, fed and raised the young brood, and went on working so successfully that many were the pounds of honey that they had made by the end of the thyme season. Nowadays the bees travel swiftly by motor lorry and the excitements of other days are no more, or perhaps we might say changed, for we think that beekeeping is never a very quiet kind of occupation.
The yearly journeyings of the bees from Mr. E. Baldensperger's Apiary at Jaffa are never quite the same, the flower seasons may overlap or some may fail, so visits of inspection have to be made beforehand to study the region and judge where best to place the hives. He has kindly given us the following notes of the plants of most importance for the bees and the usual order of their flowering.
1. Almond. Broad Beans. Small Red Clover. (February).
These are the most important of the earliest flowers. They are 'given to the bees'; the honey is not taken, but left to give strength to the bees so that they may be ready for the heavy work in front of them.
2. Orange Blossom. 'March-April.
Then comes the Orange Blossom from March 15th to April 30th. The honey is highly popular on account of its delicate flavour. In a good year hives will give two crops of orange honey of some 25 kilos per hive on about the 1st and the 15th of April respectively. By the end of April there is usually no orange blossom left.
3. Opuntia Ficus-Indica, Haw. Prickly Pear. Subbeir. (April-June).
Mr. Baldensperger's bees are usually sent to Ramleh for this crop. There are two kinds of prickly pear, sabr beledi, and sabr ifmngi, a more prickly plant, with red fruit. The first is the best, the second fowers later, but the Arabs think nothing of the honey from either. It really is inferior, containing a high proportion of sugar against a low proportion of protein, though it may yield a good crop, 10 to 15 kilos more.
These are useful at this time, especially Brassica and Sinapis. Also Clovers, especially Trifolum alexandrinum.
5. The Labiates. May. (except Salvia triloba, April).
The most important of these are Thymbra spicata (Sabbali), Teucrium chamaedrys (Kamendra), and Teucrium rosmarinifolium. Salvia triloba (Miriamiya) and other salvias are also useful; a little later Origanum maru (za'tar) is welcome and Lavandula stoechas, where it can be found. To find these plants the bees have to be carried up into the wadis, such as Wadi Ali, wher:e our photograph was taken (Plate 9), and later Tell el Safi, el Tineh, or Dnibbeh. The honey from these plants is reckoned to be good, in an exceptional year the orange blossom and they almost meet, and some of the hives would be taken straight from Jaffa to Wadi Ali or other similar place. But generally there is a gap and the visit to the prickly pear has to intervene.
6. Ammi Visnaga. Khilleh. (May-June).
This again is a flower of June, most valuable for both nectar and pollen. It is an umbelliferous plant, spreading readily over amy waste land, in a foaming sea of white blossoms.
7. Prosopis Stephaniana. Yenbut. (Plate 46). (June-July).
This is a low acacia, spreading on the ground, with fragrant flowers. It may go on flowering for forty days or more. It abounds near Tell el Safi, el Tineh and Dnibbeh, so the bees do not have to go far away from Jaffa for it.
8. Thymus capitata. Zuhef. Za'tar farsi. (Plate 47). (July).
When it can be managed the bees are given the chance to rival the bees of Greece and make honey of Hymettus, for this thyme is that which grows on Hymettus itself. It can be found at Dnibbeh, near the villages north of the Auja, Sh Mowamis, in many mountain places, and the hills from Maghar to Gaza.
9. Urgillea maritima. Basalan, Buseil. (August).
Now we are in August, the spikes of the Squill appear and are welcome, small as the white bells are, there is much nectar in them.
10. Carthamus glaucus, M.B. Qus. (September).
Last of all in September we have this beautiful pale thistle, a weed and hurtful in some degree in the fields, but covering them w1th a grey and mauve mantle, and giving abundance of nectar. The honey is good, but rather queer in flavour; it is always said of Jerusalem honey that it tastes of Qus.
The later moves of the bees are often troubled by their great enemies the hornets. Jalil, north of Jaffa, is a favourite late region because there are no hornets there.
Of all these crops the Orange Blossom is the most important. Mr. E. Baldensperger tells us that once in an exceptional year – 1883 – ten hives gave a total of a little over 3,000 pounds of honey in Jaffa! Surely we may still speak of Palestine as a land flowing with milk and honey, even if, as Mr. P. Baldensperger declares, 15 out of 19 references to honey in the Bible are more likely to mean dibs, grape treacle. He goes so far as to say that in his opinion bees were not brought in till after the Captivity. The issue is joined in the Journals of Apiculture, and we wish we cou1d quote more from Mr. P. Baldensperger on this subject, but we have already wandered too far down these fascinating paths, our excuse must be the inseparability of flowers and bees. Remember not only can the bees not live without the flowers, but many flowers cannot live without bees; such are the red clover, the salvias and larkspurs, which set no seed in their absence.
V. Of Sweet Scents
Of the Sweet Scent of Handaqoq. (Plate 48).
Several fragrant little pea flowers bear the name of Handaqoq, among them Melilotus alba, Melilotus sulcata, Trigonella hierosolymitana and Trigonella arabica, and their petals are thrown into the sour milk or clarified butter (leben or semn) for a flavouring. This is reminiscent of the Swiss Ziegerkraut (curd herb), a Melilot used in some parts to flavour cheese, but that is used dry in the form of a powder, while in Palestine it is the fresh flowers that are liked.
The sweetest of all the Handaqoqs is Melilotus alba, the white flowered Melilot. It is rare near Jerusalem, and, a specimen being needed for the illustration, one was found unexpectedly, growing in Duke Humphrey's Herb Garden at Kew, where its perfume overcame even that of the heady mints and thymes around. For long ago the Melilots ranked among the herbs and were gathered for medicines; this value has vanished away, yet they are as much thought of still for the bees as in the days when they gained their name of Mel Lotus, Honey Lotus.
The yellow Trigonella is also a honey plant and very sweet. The third plant we figure was brought in from Wady Kelt, and the friend who found it told us that a fellah seeing him pick it called to him and said, "Take some more of that with you, it is Handaqoq," and he wondered why the fellah cared for so insignificant a flower and advised him to take some home. Next day coming into the room where the tiny sprig was in water in a glass he noticed that the room was full of a faint exquisite perfume – that was the value of Handaqoq.
"Smell the scent of Handaqoq,
She above has taken away my mind,
Drive your camels, brother, drive"
(Shamim rihet Handaqoq
Akdat aqli halli foq,
Suq, jamalak khayyi soq),
as the young men used to sing at weddings when the bride was high above them, perched up on a camel. And who is the maiden who would not be pleased at being compared to a flower so delicate and of so ravishing a fragrance? The value of its perfume is less elegantly expressed in the following verse:
"Lentils divorced me,
Handaqoq took me back;
By the life of your head, O Handaqoq
I'll never taste lentils again,
the explanation of which is that once a poor soul who ate lentils made herself in consequence so disagreeable to her husband that he made up his mind to divorce her. She then had the inspiration to chew Handaqoq and her presence became as acceptable as it had formerly been disagreeable. Delicate in its pale greens and whites as the true Handaqoq, M. alba, usually appears, it does sometimes grow into a big bush, quite woody in fact. Post says that pipes are made from the stems in Syria. Even in Palestine the plant gets woody enough to be worth burning. When the men are stoking the lime kilns, at it for three days and three nights, pushing in fuel incessantly, they sing to pass the time away, and this is one of their songs,
"In it goes
In to the heat,
'where have we got to?
The way of henna,
Darb el henna
The way of thorns,
Darb el shok
So the frail beauty ends in the 1imekilns, like the grass which today is and tomorrow is cast into the oven.
The Rose of the Valley of Roses. Ward Juri. (Pl. 50).
The Dag Rose. Ward Barri. (Pl, 49).
The valley of the Roses lies sa11th of Jerusalem between Betir and Malha. No one knows when it was planted, but it is all wild now, and the bushes grow as they will. It is not certain whether these roses are descended from the Damask or the Cabbage Rose; they are pale pink and have a very sweet scent. Women come and gather from them freely in the early summer, and take the petals to Jerusalem to be distilled into rose water, 'Ma Ward.' This rose water is most beloved in cookery, and one of us remembers vividly the occasion when a too enthusiastic cook put rose water in the soup, and could not understand European annoyance at its exotic flavour.
Rose Jam is a wonderful confection, the colour a glowing pink and the taste as the perfume of the rose in life, a spoonful or two can be enjoyed, but more cloys; it is more often seen in Syria than in Palestine. To judge from old cookery books (17th 18th century) Conserve of Roses was formerly appreciated in England in the days when the Damask Rose was classed with the culinary herbs and more grown than it is now. "Far the cabbage and damask roses, with musk and Provence roses and sweet briar, are the only roses for a herb garden."
The sweetness of the rose has inspired many a local poem and proverb. There is one especially favourite verse comparing pretty girls to roses which is sung at weddings during the dances. The singer stands in the middle of the circle, armed with a sword, which she swings above her head; she first sings a line and then the dancers round her repeat it. The dance is a vigorous one, all the dancers whirling round, now jumping with both feet at once and clapping hands, now joining hands in a ring. There are many songs, new and old, sung during the dances, but the Song of the Roses is rarely omitted: here is one version of it; in an extremely free translation :
"We are daughters like the newly opened roses.
Who should smell our perfume and pluck us may God help him,
You who choose a dark one, O blind and lame
Take a white one for joy at eve and morning."
Seemingly the Palestinian admires a fair girl as much as Egyptian folk singers who chant endlessly of beauty with the refrain, "O girl, O White one! See the Beauties, see!" (Ya bint ya Beida! Shuf el muhasin shuf). Proverbs about the rose are plenty, we will give three of them:
"He promised us a Rose and gave us an Oleander"
(Wa'aduna el ward wa'atuna el dafli).
This means that the gift did not come up to the expectations of it, as the oleander, though a flower fair to look upon, is disliked and even considered to be poisonous.
"For the sake of the rose the briar drank"
(Kurmal el ward shirib el'ulleiq).
This proverb may be applied in many ways, but a very usual meaning is that those in the company of an attractive damsel may hope to receive a share of attentions.
"Even if the rose fades its scent remains"
(El ward lawinu dablan Rihatu fih).
The favourite application of this saying is to some man or woman in the village who, though old and poor, is yet beloved by all for sweetness of character,
Lawsonia alba. L. Henna. (Plate 51).
The Henna plant is grown in Palestine and is much loved there, though not so passionately as in Egypt. There is little trace of it here in olden days; perhaps, as has been suggested, it was brought from Egypt by one of King Solomon's wives, hence the verse in the Song of Songs:
"My beloved is as a cluster of henna flowers
In the vineyards of Engedi."
Indeed a cluster of henna flowers is fragrance itself. 'O sweetness!' cry the flower sellers in the streets of the Old City and few passers-by seeing henna blossoms can resist taking a few sprigs, fit gift for a beloved wife at home to place in her hair and so shed perfume round her. It is sweet in all the ways of life, in love, and in death, when it is cast, a last taken, into the shroud.
But sweet as the flowers are, the leaves are still more highly esteemed. They are dried and rubbed into a paste with halt water and used by women as a cosmetic, dyeing the nails and sometimes the palms of the hands a bright orange brown. This is most delicious they say, pleasant to smell, and besides coaling and good for the skin. Men setting out on a long journey will beg their wives to spread some on the soles to prevent sore feet, riders swear by it as a preventive of saddle soreness, and there is great comfort, we are told, to weary ones, after the bath, in an anointing of feet and hands with henna.
But the triumph of the Henna Bush is that Wedding Eve, known as the Lelt el Henna, night of music and odours, when the bride, with much ceremony, has the paste bound to the palms of the hands and sleeps so, that by next day she may appear more beauteaus than before, a rapture to .all beholders. At Nablus the henna is painted on in pretty little designs, but this is reckoned very "citified" (mutamaddin) at Artas. Henna is used as the symbol of sweetness in the following proverbs:
"Put henna on the bird's claw
And let the affair be smoothed over."
(Hanni keff el asfura
W khalli el ehkaya mastura).
Here henna has exactly the sense of the French "douceur," where sweetness is synonymous with a tip or bribe.
"Way of henna, way of thorns" (Darb el henna w darb el shok). that is – (Life) –Sweet Way, Bitter Way, often said in moralising fashion, much like our English, "Take life as you find it, the rough with the smooth."
VI. Dye Plants. Soap.
There is usually one dyer at least in a place of any size in Palestine. He has some dipping and dyeing to do for the townsfolk, but for the most part his customers are the Beduin, whose women bring in their handspun, being desirous of more brilliant colours than they can effect by their own arts. As far as we have seen the dyers satisfy these clients by using violent anilines imported from Europe – accounts have been given to us of certain places, e.g., Hebron, where vegetable dyes are still in use, but we have not verified them yet, and must confine ourselves here to a too narrow sphere of observation.
We know that vegetable indigo and madder, etc., were once grown and used here, so on our visit to the dyers of Jerusalem we enquired whether they had ever used them and if so why they had given them up, This was the answer given by one of the older men, "I used to dye with the Indian indigo (Nil Hindi) when I was young, and I think it was better than this 'ifrangi' indigo, but it took much more time and skill to prepare the vat, and it cost more. If my customers would pay me a little more I would dye with the real indigo now. But it is no good your asking me to dye a little bit of wool for you with it. I should have to make a whole vat, and I could only do that for a large order. Do I remember how to make a real indigo vat? Certainly I do. I could make one any day if it was wanted." We enquired what were the necessary ingredients for such a vat and were told that shid, kille, and dibs should be used. Shid is lime, and kille is the name for ashes of various glassworts (Salsolas, etc.) containing potash, and the dibs is grape treacle. We are told by those who know that grape sugar is a common reducing agent, and with the alkaline substances mentioned could make a satisfactory vat for indigo.
The dyers were equally positive that they could dye efficiently with madder if customers wanted it, in fact it does appear to be sometimes done still in the home. We had more than one recipe given us in Artas for dyeing with madder (fawi). The following is the most interesting of these.
Take green grapes and press them with a little water. Wash the wool and dry it. Then put the wool into the grape juice and the powdered madder on top and leave it all night. Next day boil it for an hour, stirring it. Don't wring out, but put ashes on top and leave it for a night before washing the wool.
Opinions differed as to whether the ashes used should be wood ash, or that of sheep or goat's dung.
The leaves of the almond tree are said to give a yellow, and pomegranate bark with iron, a black; the safflower, is only used to colour rice, its use as a dye plant does not appear to be known.
We have only heard of a green once – at Jerash, in Trans Jordan, it is obtained by the use of an umbelliferous plant Ridolfia segetum. Mm. (Besbes) and indigo. This nowadays is the synthetic indigo; in olden days they used a vat composed of the same ingredients as we have already mentioned for vegetable indigo.
All other dyes used there for dyeing the wool brought in by the Beduin were anilines, so far as could be ascertained.
We are told that the indigofera is still cultivated in the south end of the Dead Sea, but we have not been able to make investigation into this and other points of interest and we think there must be more to be discovered on this subject.
The Cyclamen (C. latifolium) among its many names is often called "Shepherd's Soap" (Sabunet el Ra'i), and it is said that its tuberous root was formerly, and sometimes is now, used as soap; a similar story is also but more rarely told of Leontice leontopetalum (Lion's Leaf).
In some parts also we are told that the Soapwort was cultivated for use as soap and that its root also was used in the making of sweetstuff (Halawe) under the name of Shilsh Halawe, but the root sold under that name today in Jerusalem markets is, according to specimens we have seen and sent to Kew, not Saponaria, but a Gypsophila.
Of far greater importance in days past was kille, the ashes of Salsolas and other similar plants which grow around the Dead Sea and in other desert places. It is not easy to find out exactly which plants were used. We think that round Jerusalem it could not have been S. Kali, but rather S. inermis, and other plants. One of these, we cannot make out which, is called Ta'om and still has a lingering reputation in Ramallah and thereabouts as having been excellent for washing clothes. In olden days the Taamre used to bring it out of the desert and hawk it round Bethlehem and district exchanging the plant for figs and olives. One day when some people came round selling mats at the door, a woman said, "This is like the bartering of the ta'om." She remembered the days when it was so sold. There are old people who can still remember when the Eastern mountains were red at night from the flames of the kille fires. In those days the kille was used with olive oil for the famous soap of Nablus; it is now quite superseded by imported potash.
1. Medicago orbicularis, All (Legnminoseae). Im tabak teir. Medick; flowers yellow; pod round and coiled. Artas.
2. Hymenocarpus circinnatns, L. (Leguminoseae). Im tabak teir. Rather like a Medick, with yellow flowers and flat round pods.
3. Artedia squamata, L. (Umbelliferae). Drehme. Flowers white.
4. Tordylium Aegyptiacum, L. (Umbelliferae). Drehme.
 These are desert plants, it must be remembered that Artas is all t hr desert edge.
 Appendix A 23.
 Gerarde, "Herbal," p. 1041-2.
 Dalman, op. cit., p. 375.
 Jaussen, "Coutumes des Arabes au pays de Moab," p. 95.
 sabr = patience.
 Or zey el ghorab la wadda wala jab (Stephan).
 Theophrastus, vii. 13, 6 (Hort). Canaan, "Plant Iore in Palestinian Superstition," J.P.O.S., vol. 7-8, p. 133. See also Dalman, op. cit., p. 97.
 Deut. xxxii. 32,
 The derivation of "Oshair' here is from 'ushr,' pregnancy.
 The dried root is used as a medicine in India under the name of Mudar.
 Jaussen, "Coutumes des Fuqara," pp. 15, 89.
 MelIor, "Beekeeping in Palestine and Egypt Compared." Bulletin 82 (Government Press, Cairo).
 Mellor, op. cit.
 Hebrew, debhash.
 Syrien, Palestinian and Egyptian bees all differ slightly. Mr. P. Baldensperger thinks that the Palestinian bee may be a cross between the Syrian and the Egyptian. (See "Bulletin de la Societe d'Apiculture. Nice. 1930.
 Bees feed their young on pollen, but more observations are needed in Palestine as to which plants are visited for these purposes.
 Appendix A 25.
 Rohde, "A Garden of Herbs." p. 120.
 Appendix A. 26.
 e.g., Squqa; zouzou; ghalyun; etc.