Figs, Dates, Laurel, and Myrrh: Plants of the Bible and the Qu'ran

Hardcover (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $8.96
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 64%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (9) from $8.96   
  • New (5) from $14.90   
  • Used (4) from $8.96   


This book celebrates the plants of the Old Testament and New Testament, including the Apocrypha, and of the Quran. From acacia, the wood of the tabernacle, to wormwood, whose bitter leaves cured intestinal worms, 81 fascinating chapters—covering every plant that has a true botanical counterpart—tell the stories of the fruits and grains, grasses and trees, flowers and fragrances of ancient lore. The descriptions include the plants' botanical characteristics, habitat, uses, and literary context. With evocative quotations and revelatory interpretations, this information is all the more critical today as the traditional agrarian societies that knew the plants intimately become urbanized.

The unusually broad geographic range of this volume extends beyond Israel to encompass the Holy Land's biblical neighbors from southern Turkey to central Sudan and from Cyprus to the Iraq border.

Richly illustrated with extensive color photography and with a foreword by the incomparable Garrison Keillor, this delightful ecumenical botany offers the welcome tonic of a deep look into an enduring, shared natural heritage.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

The enormous task of examining the diverse and sometimes speculative side of religious ethnobotany is well executed here. Musselman (botany & biological sciences, Old Dominion Univ.; Jordan in Bloom) has dedicated the last 20 years to the study of virtually every plant expressly mentioned in the Bible and Quran. After a foreword by Garrison Keillor, Musselman states in his introduction that he will avoid technical terms in favor of plain language. Although the book is organized alphabetically by common plant name and rich with color photographs, it is less of a field guide than a narrative of how ancient societies came to refer to particular plants in their religious texts, how our own names for those plants may not refer to the original plant in question (e.g., under "Apple," Musselman explains that Eden's forbidden fruit was likely an apricot, but there is no cross-reference from, or listing for, "Apricot"), and how these cultures used plants in everyday life. While Musselman is admittedly more familiar with biblical text (both OT and NT), he has studied extensively in the Middle East and was commissioned by Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan to write his previous book. This historical botanical study of the region (its approach is not religious) appears to be the only work published to date to include both the Bible and the Quran. Recommended for all libraries with medium to large religious or armchair gardening collections.
—Tracy Mohaidheen

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780881928556
  • Publisher: Timber Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/1/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 1,465,212
  • Product dimensions: 5.82 (w) x 8.28 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Meet the Author

Lytton John Musselman has studied Bible plants for three decades and has published numerous books and articles on their identification, symbolism, and use in the holy writings. He is Mary Payne Hogan Professor of Botany and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. He also wrote Jordan in Bloom (2000), which was commissioned by Queen Rania Al-Abdullah. He has lived and worked in several Middle Eastern countries, including serving as a Fulbright professor at the American University in Beirut (he has held three Fulbright Awards); he travels to the Middle East annually. He is also interested in parasitic plants (and edits Haustorium, the newsletter for those interested in the biology of such plants) and quillworts (Isoetes. Also a field naturalist, he is the manager of the Old Dominion's Blackwater Ecologic Preserve.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)