Ancient Herbal Traditions Of The Middle East

  • Herb Properties
  • Herbs Alphabetical by Common Name

  • See List Herbs by Botanical Name

The Middle East is a region of extreme climates including mountains and arid deserts. It was in Assyria, (now Iraq), that edible and medicinal plants were first brought into cultivation. The mountain uplands are the ancestral home of the rose, Rosa damascena which was cultivated by the Persians long before the Crusaders brought it home to Europe. The olive, fig and myrtle trees grow in the western parts of the region, (Israel,Lebanon, Syria, and southern Turkey. Ancient forests of pine and oak thrived here thousands of years ago where now only remnants of the Cedars groves of Lebanon (Cedrus libani) remain under protected species status. In the dry, inland drought resistant shrubs such as frankincense, Boswellia sacra, myrrh, (Commmiphora myrrha), and gum arabic (Acacia senegal) provided the resins that were the first aromatics. Other important medicinal and food plants originating in the Middle East include oats, barley, flax, sesame, safflower, cabbages,onions, garlic, alfalfa, grapes, almonds, and pomegranates.