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Bible Plants

Lily of the Valley

While the "Lily of the Valley" may be well known, no precise plant can be identified with this name. Why? Because the writer uses the word showshan (Arab equivalent sawsan, iris, which is a frequent female name), a word often translated as lily. This does not mean, however, that we should think of the traditional Easter lily (Lilium candidum) with its six flower parts as the plant intended. Rather, it is likely that the work encompasses any of the various showy flowers one would find in an open, sunny area in Bible lands. This could include Anemone coronaria (see entry for lily of the field), Papaver rhoeas (see entry for flower of the field), or virtually any other plant. The idea is apparently to convey an object of beauty and attraction rather than a specific plant.