Holy Botany

Some Plants of the Qu'ran and the Bible

Overview and Recent Research

American Center

Damascus, Syria

31 January 2000

Lytton John Musselman

Mary Payne Hogan Professor of Botany

Old Dominion University

Norfolk, Virginia 23529-0266



For many years, I have studied uses of plants in the ancient Middle East, especially the Bible(2). Tonight I want to present a very general introduction to the plants of the Qu'ran and the Bible and then speak in more detail on some of my recent studies on Bible plants.

In Jordan, I am working with Islamic and Christian scholars to develop a course on views of the environment from a religious perspective(3). This has required a study of the Qu'ran, prompting me to consider its plants. But I am neither an Arabist, a Qu'ranic scholar, nor a theologian. Rather, I am a botanist who is fascinated with the flora of these holy books and a scientist who loves the plants of Bilad al Sham.

Both the Qu'ran(4) and the Bible(5) were birthed in the Middle East. As Scriptures that reflect their cultural origin among nomadic and agrarian societies, plants naturally play a prominent role in the imagery of these books. Much more than providing food, fiber, and shelter, plants are used for a variety of divine impressions. For example, in the Qu'ran, food plants are often viewed as the gracious provision of God(6). In the Bible, religious cult involves the use of prescribed plants and plant products, e.g., incense and anointing oil(7). In summary, the imagery of plants in both books has a variety of meanings and applications. But many images are the same.

A good example is the use of trees as figures of righteousness and stability. This "good tree/bad tree" "good person/bad person" image is prominent in both books(8). Pierre Bikai has written on the topic of the development of religion and its relationship to trees and I would defer those interested to his important work(9). Tree worship may sound like a practice restricted to the ancients but it is still possible to see trees in rural areas of Syria and Jordan decorated in honor to a dead person, i.e., a good person is like a good tree. Most of the trees that I have seen decorated in this way are buttim (Pistacia atlantica). I would be interested in knowing how these trees are selected by local people.

Before considering the Qu'ran and the Bible, I need to mention the extra biblical and extra Qu'ranic literature. Both Islam and Judaism have extensive writings which are widely respected and used. For Islam there are the Hadiths and for the Jews the Mishnah. In these writings is much information on plants, their lore and legend. For Christians, there are the writings of the early church fathers. These extra-canonical works contain reference to many plants that have become so familiar they are inferred in the texts of the Holy books. A good example is the "apple" in the Garden of Eden. The Bible does not identify the tree linked with Adam's disobedience. Yet if you were to survey a wide range of Americans, most would say Eve enticed Adam with an apple from the forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden. This and other sorts of biases have been introduced and color the way we think about our Scriptures.

I cannot evaluate the effect on the Qu'ran, but it is obvious that early translators of the Bible, unfamiliar with the flora of the Middle East, translated some words into plants which were part of their flora and agricultural practice. A good example is tares, discussed later. The inclusion of a weed common in Europe (though not England) is just one example of how European plants were read into the translation by scholars not familiar with the flora of the Holy Land. Other examples include mulberry (Morus) for terebinth (Pistacia) and "lilies" for Anemone coronaria (and probably other showy plants).

Obviously, cultural influences affected the writers of the Holy books because language is the ultimate cultural construct. A good example is the inclusion of Greek plant lore in the New Testament, heavily influenced by Greek culture and written in the Greek language even though some of the plants are not common in Bible lands. For instance, leaves of Laurus nobilis are mentioned in connection with the crowning of a winner of a sports event(10).

In this lecture, I want to give an overview of plants in the two books and then present some of my recent work on Bible plants.

Overview of Plants of the Qu'ran and the Bible

Plants Unique to the Qu'ran

The Bible mentions about 120 plants/plant products, the Qu'ran less than twenty. Most of the plants are familiar to us: barley, date palm, fig, garlic, grape (or vine), olive, onion, pomegranate, and wheat. Why the great difference in the number of plants? Is the difference in number of plants to related to ecological differences between a largely Mediterranean influence and a desert habitat? I don't know. In addition to common crops (several of which originated in this region), widespread trade with other parts of the world brought exotic plants into local markets.

Let's look at some of the plants unique to the Qu'ran, that is, plants not mentioned in the Bible. These include ginger, talh, and zaqqm.


Ginger(11), like cinnamon, is thought to be native to southern India. It was no doubt brought to the Middle East by traders. Cinnamon is mentioned in the Bible in several places and it is remarkable that ginger is omitted. In the Qu'ran ginger is used in the same way it is today-to flavor drinks.(12) Large quantities of ginger are grown for the modern soft drink industry.

Talh (Banana?)

The link between bananas(13) and the Qu'ran is particularly interesting. The origin of bananas is shrouded in some mystery but is thought to have arisen in China. Bananas were first cultivated in the Mediterranean region about the time of the rise of Islam (650 CE). Prior to that, Alexander the Great had encountered bananas in his campaigns and brought knowledge of them back to eastern Europe. Thus, they arrived on the scene just in time to be included in the Qu'ran.


Zaqqm is a terrible tree associated with Hell. According to the Qu'ran (14) it has fruits like devils' heads and a burning sap. This tree is the antithesis of the trees in the Garden of Paradise. Likely, it is not intended to represent an actual tree but rather is a figure of judgement. Perhaps because it is figurative, different people have varying ideas of what such a tree must resemble.

In eastern Sudan, the Beja people call the large, arborescent Euphorbia abyssinca, zaqqm. It has a milky latex which like all species of Euphorbia is toxic and causes skin irritation in some people. This is an example of how local people liken some trees in their flora to plants of their scripture, in this case the zaqqm.

The naming of indigenous plants after Bible plants was widespread in the United States when Europeans first encountered plants new to them. The flora of Eastern North America, for example, has many "cedars," which are no relation to the cedar of Lebanon of the Bible (Cedrus libani).

Different Uses/Meanings of the Same Plants


Another interesting difference between the plants of the two books is the manner in which the plants are used. Most striking is the olive (Olea europaea). In the Qu'ran, the olive fruit is mentioned as a condiment(15). Despite the many uses of olive oil in the bible for food, medicine, metal/wood preservative, soap, and illumination(16)-no mention is made of olives being eaten!

Lote or Sidr

One of the scenes in Paradise in the Qur'an is characterized by choice fruits and fowls where the only greeting is "Peace! Peace." It is a place where the righteous will recline under the shade of thornless sidr trees(17). This is in contrast to the sharp spines which are a feature of sidr trees in an earthly scene! Spines are borne in pairs with one sharply curved, the other straight. Both, however, are sharp!

Sidr is one of the most common trees at lower elevations in Jordan and can grow to be quite old. Trees are picturesque with a spreading crown. The leaves are evergreen. Flowers are small and greenish and disk shaped but produced in large quantities. Unlike many trees, sidr may flower at different times of the year.

The fruit is about the size of an olive and has a pleasant taste like an apple. Known in Jordan as nebk, they are sometimes collected and sold. Other species of Ziziphus have larger fruits and are sometimes grown as street trees in Amman.

Of all the trees that are used by honey bees, sidr is the most desirable. It is attributed to the Prophet Mohammed that the honey of the sidr tree is the most healthy. One of my students was studying food plants of bees and gave me a small quantity of valuable sidr honey. It had a wonderful flavor and pleasant fragrance(18).

Interestingly, the scientific name of sidr is Zizyphus spini-christi which means the thorn of Christ, in allusion to the crown of thorns at the crucifixion. It is unlikely, however, that the crown of thorns was made from this plant(19). However, in other references to thorns, sidr could be implied(20) although another armed plant could be meant. We simply don't know the precise identification of thornbush.

Some Recent Research on Bible Plants

Tares, Darnel, and Zawan


Two major grains, wheat(22) and barley(23), are mentioned often in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. Wheat was the preferred grain because it could be used to make yeast bread. Barley, on the other hand, lacks appreciable gluten so produced less desirable flat bread. For this reason, barley was consistently valued at half the price of wheat. Today, barley is used almost exclusively for fodder in Jordan and Syria.

The parable of the wheat and the tares is well known. Despite this, there is disagreement over the plant or plants meant by the Greek word zizanion, found only in Matthew 13 where it is variously translated into English as weed, darnel, or tares. In order to understand the context of this hapax legomenon (word used in only one place) and its botanical features, it is essential to consider the text in detail(24).

Features of tares in this text can be summarized as follows:

1. Tares are associated with wheat, not barley.

2. Tares could be contaminants of wheat seed. This is implied in the seed being "good", i.e., pure, not contaminated with the seeds of the tares.

3. The life cycle of tares and wheat is synchronous, "Let both grow together"

4. The farmer instructs the workers to first gather and bind the tares, "First collect the weeds…" The fact that the wheat may be collected or damaged does not imply that the root system of the tares is more entwined with neighboring roots more than any normal weed.

5. At least near maturity, the two plants can be distinguished in the field because the wheat was forming ears when the tares were discovered. The parable does not say the two plants were either distinguishable or indistinguishable when young.

6. No mention is made of tares being poisonous.

In Bilad al Sham, there is a well-known proverb which also deals with a weed in wheat. This plant, or guild of plants, is zawan in Arabic. The proverb states: "The zawan of your own country is better than the wheat of the Crusaders." A plant of little value is implied in the proverb, an example of Semitic literary hyperbole. Though worthless, zawan is certainly better than something from the feared and hated Crusaders.

Candidates for Tares and Zawan

Weeds are mentioned in many places in the Bible. Few of these are associated with wheat, however. There is one reference in Job 31:40a (King James Version): "Let thistles grow instead of wheat, and cockle instead of barley." The Hebrew word here is bosh'aw, also found in Isaiah 5 where it is translated as "wild grapes." This plant, at least in the Job passage, has been assumed to be Agrostemma githago L. a toxic member of the Caryophyllaceae. Before modern agriculture it was a common weed in barley in England. However, I have never seen it in the Middle East where it is considered uncommon. It is therefore highly unlikely that A. githago could be zawan or tares.

A long history of claims for L. temulentum for darnel is in the literature. Ancient writers who considered darnel as tares include Ovid and Plautus as well as Shakespeare.

Lolium is visually indistinguishable from wheat, at least at the youngest stages. It matures at the same time as wheat. The mature spikelets are about the same size and shape as wheat grains. Because they are non-shattering, L. temulentum culms are carried intact when the grain is harvested. Further, L. temulentum and other Lolium species are often toxic and known to poison cattle. A classic paper by Freeman(25) identified a fungus as the toxic principle in L. temulentum. These two factors, being a grass and being toxic, made Lolium a fitting plant for tares. However, the parable does not require that tares be toxic nor does it imply that wheat and tares must be distinguishable when very young.

On the basis of toxicity and mimicry, many modern students of Bible plants have accepted Lolium temulentum as tares. Prominent among these is Hepper(26), who states unequivocally that tares are darnel. However, as noted below, L. temulentum is not common in wheat fields in Jordan and Syria, at least not in the drier wheat-growing regions.

There is one report of some Lolium remotum Schrank grains in a cache of wheat at an archeological site in Syria(27). This species is also segetal (restricted to cultivated fields) and similar to L. temulentum. The two Lolium species are related but differ in the size and shape of the grain. Lolium remotum is known as flax rye grass because the grains resemble the seeds of flax(28), while grains of L. temulentum are similar to caryopses of wheat. The two species have different ranges; Lolium temulentum is more or less cosmopolitan while L. remotum is more northern. I have seen no specimens of L. remotum from Bilad al Sham. Grains were also found at an archeological location in Egypt and tentatively determined as L. temulentum(29).

A strong prospect for zawan and another possibility for tares is Cephalaria syriaca. The growth form of C. syriaca is much different from wheat. After a single stem reaches approximately the same height as a wheat plant, it produces four branches at sharp right angles to the main stem. The fruit is similar to a wheat grain in size and shape. Unlike Lolium, C. syriaca is not toxic (contra Hepper), although it is very bitter.

Cephalaria syriaca is widespread in the eastern Mediterranean. It is considered one of the most successful weeds in wheat fields in parts of the Middle East because of its stature, phenology, retention of fruits, and the resemblance of the fruit to wheat. In some parts of Turkey, the density of C. syriaca was so great that the wheat was abandoned and the weed harvested for its oil.

Modern varieties of wheat can reasonably be assumed to have larger grains than ancient wheats, obfuscating the mimicry of the two different fruits. At least one author says Lolium temulentum is zawan in Arabic and C. syriaca is zawan aswad (black zawan)(30). The farmers I talked with use the term zawan exclusively for both.

This paper deals with these two possible candidates for zawan and tares and is based on field research in Jordan and Syria from 1997-1999.


Cephalaria syriaca was abundant in hand sown fields. These are typically small plots of about 0.10 ha. Mechanically sown areas were free of C. syriaca. Lolium temulentum was abundant in fields in the mountains east of Latakia and at a threshing site at Quneitra, both in Syria.

A survey of herbarium specimens (University of Jordan) turned up two historic collections of C. syriaca(31).

Much of the grain in Jordan and Syria is still harvested by hand in one of two ways. The first is to cut the grain heads with a sickle or scythe. The second is to pull up the plants if they are to be used for fodder. Obviously, more fodder is available if the entire plant is removed from the soil. Barley is more frequently harvested by pulling because it is used for fodder.

When the grain is harvested by pulling, it is usually collected and the weeds are left--just the opposite action of the farmer in the parable who deliberately harvests the weeds and leaves the grain. Fields are grazed after the grain is removed. In both methods of harvest the sheaves are piled or bundled to be collected later for threshing.

As recently as the mid-1980's, it was possible to see threshing in Jordan and Syria with threshing sledges. These are constructed of wood and are ca. 3 m long and 1 m wide with a turned-up end. Embedded in the bottom are metal spikes or sharp rocks. The grain is spread out on an area of flat stones (the "threshing floor" of many Bible passages). A draft animal pulls the sledge, loaded with weights, over the grain. This form of threshing would be familiar to the target audience of the Bible both in the Old Testament(32) and the New Testament(33) confirming that this procedure was well known. Sledges would be less discriminating than machines in separating the grain from any contaminants such as tares. Today, grain is threshed with modern machines.

Threshing machines are transported to piled sheaves. These sites resemble threshing floors formerly used with threshing sledges--flat, solid ground. Abandoned sections of paved road are favored spots.

At the threshing sites I visited, I found Cephalaria syriaca in the piles of wheat but not in the barley. Farmers are aware of C. syriaca (as zawan) and told me that it occurs in wheat only, not barley.

Lolium temulentum was observed in wheat fields in the northern part of Syria, in the mountains east of Latakia and at a threshing site near Quneitra. These areas have a higher rainfall than the wheat-growing region of Jordan. As noted above, some Lolium grains have been found in archeobotanical studies.


The evidence--association with wheat, synchrony of life cycle, zawan as used by farmers as well as in an old Arab proverb, could support either C. syriaca or L. temulentum as the tares of the Bible.

However, a serious problem remains. If C. syriaca is tares and has been associated with wheat since antiquity, why are few C. syriaca fruits known from archeological sites? As Zeist and Bakker-Heeres comment(34), "The conspicuous scarcity of Cephalaria syriaca fruits at Ramad suggests that at the time this species was not yet a troublesome grain-field weed." Perhaps the Greek zizanion can be used for any weed in grain, two of the most serious being Cephalaria syriaca and Lolium temulentum.

Why There May Be No Balm in Gilead(35)

Balm of Gilead is an image familiar to Bible students even though it is mentioned in only two verses. The weeping prophet, as Jeremiah is known, writes in Jeremiah 8:22, "Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people?" What is this product of Gilead?

First, what is Gilead? According to the biblical account in the book of Joshua(36), Gilead is apparently the region from the middle of the Arnon Gorge (Wadi Mujib) to Mount Hermon (Jebel Al Sheik) with the Jabbok River (Zarqa River) being the middle of the territory. This included the domain of the Ammonites and the Amorites as well as the region known as Bashan. In division of territory to the patriarchs, Gilead was apportioned to the half tribe of Manasseh (the other half remained west of the Jordan River), Reuben, and Gad.

Although a small area in terms of square kilometers, Gilead is diverse stretching from the margins of the Jordan valley and the peaks along the Rift Valley to the edge of the Badia (steppe). In ancient times parts of Gilead were covered with forests. These forests were the southernmost extension of their kind, and the southern extreme of the range of the Aleppo pine. Today, only vestiges of these forests remain. A prime example is Dibbeen National Park.

At Dibbeen and scattered other remnants in the area, the forest is dominated by the Aleppo pine. This tree is familiar to anyone who has visited Jordan because it is widely planted. It probably only formed extensive forests, however, in areas with higher rainfall. Pines are the dominant trees but oak (ballot), pistacia (buttim), and carob (kharrob) are also present.

A feature of the natural pine forest is a distinct stratification of the vegetation. The trees are the upper layer. Much closer to the ground is a layer of shrubs, dominated by two species of the genus Cistus. More on these later. Closer yet to the soil are numerous non-woody plants, many of them in the legume family.

One of the characteristics of plants found in this vegetation type is the presence of essential oils, literally oils that have an essence. Pine would fit this category as would numerous of the understory shrubs. Some, like the legume Ononis, have sticky hairs. Others, like various members of the mint family, lack the sticky hairs but contain oils that are evident when the plant is crushed.

If the forest is degraded through heavy grazing, the oaks will predominate. This sort of forest is evident in the hills north of Ajlon as at Istayfanah. Here, you will not see a distinct stratification although the flora is rich and diverse. In the spring, the forest contains showy plants such as orchids and anemones which are most common at the margins where more light is available.

For me, the most desirable time to visit Dibbeen is in the late spring in the afternoon. Shrubs are still green, some flowers of Cistus are present. After the hot day, resin is obvious on the plants. Pine leaves, Cistus, and various native mints combine to give a sweet fragrance. The long rays of the sun in the late afternoon cast a special light over the forest. The clear, brilliant rays and contrasting shadows create a primeval ambience. It is quiet except for that special, calming sound of a light breeze through the leaves of the pine. In the distance you can sometime hear a shepherd playing his pipe. In a personal sense, this is a balm in Gilead for me!

Two species of Cistus are common in the pine forest, C. creticus and C. salvifolius. They are easily distinguished by their flower color. The large pink flowers of C. creticus and the slightly smaller but equally beautiful white flowers of C. salvifolius appear in May. On a hot day, the fragrant resin of the plants is obvious. Upon closer examination, you can see the numerous hairs that cover the leaves and young stems of both species. The resin will stick to your hands if you collect leaves.

Cistus' resin is fragrant, as noted, and has been used for millennia to produce an incense. Even today, the resin is collected in parts of Greece. It can be harvested in a variety of ways. One ancient method is to comb the hair of goats who graze in plant communities where Cistus is abundant. Another is by dragging a rake with long, leather tines across the shrubs at the hottest time of day and then removing the resin when it is dry(37). To my knowledge, it does not have any widespread use among modern Arabs.

I have not found any local familiarity with the plants. When some Bedouin near Anjara were asked the value of the plant, they simply replied that it was good forage for sheep and goats indicating why the shrub is absent in heavily grazed areas.

The resin is also used for medicine, as a balm that can reduce inflammation of the skin. Recent research on the biochemistry of the plant has shown the efficacy of compounds in the plant for dermatological disorders(38).

Other resins extracted from plants in this type of Mediterranean community include mastic. This is derived from the sap of at least two species of the genus Pistacia. The highest quality comes from P. lentiscus on the Greek island of Chios. Such trees may have occurred in Gilead in ancient times. However, there is no documentation for this. Another candidate is the resin of the Aleppo pine which has been used as a pitch and gum. Use of the resin for balm is unknown.

Back to Gilead. Is it possible these species of Cistus were widespread and more common throughout Gilead and used as a medicine? Could this be the balm of Gilead? Again, the weeping prophet in Jeremiah 46: 11: "Go up to Gilead and get balm, O virgin daughter of Egypt. But you multiply remedies in vain; there is no healing for you." This implies that Gilead was a special source of the medicine. If so, why was Gilead chosen as a site for harvesting the balm rather than similar areas west of the Jordan? We simply don't know. Nor should we neglect the possibility that the prophet Jeremiah was speaking in a metaphorically way.

What is certain is that the beautiful Cistus shrubs, perhaps the most likely candidate for the balm of Gilead, are much less frequent now then in previous years. This is due to the widespread destruction of the forest type that harbors them. To ensure that future generations of Jordanians can appreciate these attractive members of the indigenous flora, they need to be protected. This can only be done by preserving the forest in which they grow. Otherwise, there will be no balm in Gilead.


2. E.g., Musselman, L. J. 1999. Solomon's plant life. Plant lore and image in the Solomonic writings. Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 51(10): 1-8; Musselman, L. J. and H. P. Medema. 1993. Laat de Aarde het u Vertellen. De zwijgende maar machtige boodschap von planten in het land van de Bijbel. [The Earth Shall Teach You: The silent yet powerful language of plants in the land of the Bible]. Vaassen: Uitgiverij H. Medema. 64 pages. Illustrated. (In Dutch); Musselman, L. J. and H. P. Medema. 1993. Van U is ook de Aarde.De zwijgende maar machtige boodschap von planten in het heiligdom. [Yours (is) also the Earth. The silent yet powerful language of plants in the sanctuary.] Vaassen: Uitgiverij H. Medema. 48 pages. Illustrated. (In Dutch).

3. See: Musselman, L. J. 2000 A Biblical View on Environmental Concern. Al-Reem, Journal of the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (Amman, Jordan).

4. The translation of the Qu'ran I am using is the English translation by N. J. Dawood. 1997. The Koran with Parallel Arabic Text. London: Penguin.

5. The translation of the Bible I am using is The Holy Bible New International Version. 1986. London: Hodder and Stoughton.

6. Examples include the palm (Qf 50:9, `Abasa 80:18) and the olive (Al-Mu'min 23:18).

7. Both anointing oil and incense are detailed in Exodus 30.

8. Compare, for example, Ibrhm 14:24-25 (Do you not see how God compares a good word to a good tree? Its root is firm and its branches are in the sky; it yields its fruit in every season by God's leave. God speaks in parables to mankind so that he may take heed. But an evil word is like an evil tree torn out of the earth and shorn of all its roots.) with Psalm 1:3 (He [the righteous man] is like a tree planted by streams of water which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.)

9. Bikai, P. 1991. The Cedar of Lebanon: Archaeological and Dendrochronological Perspectives. PhD Dissertation. Berkeley: University of California.

10. I Peter 5:4, " . . . the crown of glory that will never fade away." Laurus nobilis is one of the few examples of a plant mentioned only in the New Testament.

11. Zingiber officinale. The Arabic Salsabl and the Latin Zingiber are both probably derived from the original Sanskrit word for the plant.

12. Al-Insn 76:16 ( . . . and cups brim-full with ginger-flavoured water from a fountain called Salsabl.)

13. Musa x paradisiaca.. The "x" indicates a hybrid.

14. Al-Sfft 37:65, Al-Dukhn 44:49, Al-Waqiah 56:51.

15. Al-Mu'min 23:18.

16. Musselman, L. J. and H. P. Medema. 1993. Laat de Aarde het u Vertellen.

17. Al-Waqia 56:28 (They [the righteous] shall recline on couches raised on high in the shade of thornless sidrs...). Sidr is also mentioned in Al-Najm 53.

18. Adapated from: Musselman, L. J. 2000. Jordan in Bloom. Wildflowers of the Holy Land. Original watercolors by Dasha Fomicheva, artist to the Royal Hashemite Court. Under the Patronage of Her Royal Highness Rania Al Abdullah, Queen of Jordan. Amman: Jordan River Foundation.

19. Musselman, L. J. and H. P. Medema. 1993. They suggest the crown of thorns was made from another, unrelated plant, Sarcopoterium spinosum.

20. I.e., Judges 9:15.

21. Based on a paper submitted for publication.

22. Triticum aestivum L.

23. Hordeum vulgare L.

24. Matthew 13: 24-30. Jesus told them another parable: "The Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds zizanion here and throughout] among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed ears, then the weeds also appeared. The owner's servants came to him and said, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?' 'An enemy did this, ' he replied. The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?' 'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'"

25. Freeman, E. M. 1903. The seed-fungus of Lolium temulentum, L., the darnel. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B 196: 1-17.

26. Hepper, F. N. 1992. Baker Encyclopedia of Bible Plants. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

27. van Zeist, W. and J. A. H. Bakker-Heeres. 1982. Archaeobotanical studies in the Levant I. Neolithic sites in the Damascus Basin: Aswad, Ghoraife, Ramad. Palaeohistoria 24: 165-256.

28. Linum usitatissimum L.

29. Samuel, D. 1989. Their staff of life: Initial investigations on ancient Egyptian bread baking. Chapter 12, pages 253-290 in B. J. Kemp, editor. Amarna Reports V. London: The Egypt Exploration Society.

30. Zohary, M. 1982. Plants of the Bible. Cambridge: University Press.

31. Theodore Kotschy noted "In agris pr. Aleppium frequens" on the label of a specimen collected in May 1841 near Aleppo, Syria. Likewise, Haussknecht's specimen of May 1865 on the Harran plain near the border of Jordan and Syria noted it as being "Inter segetes..."

32. Deuteronomy 22: 4; Isaiah 28:28.

33. I Corinthians 9:9 and I Timothy 5: 18.

34. van Zeist, W. and J. A. H. Bakker-Heeres. 1982.

35. Adapted in part from Musselman, L. J. 2000. Jordan in Bloom.

36. Joshua 12:2.

37. Baumann, H. 1996. The Greek Plant World in Myth, Art and Literature. Translated by W. T. and E. R. Stearn. Portland: Timber Press.

38. Danne, A., F. Peterett and A. Nahrstedt. 1993. Proanthocyanidins from Cistus incanus. Phytochemistry 34(4): 1129-1133.