Egypt has left us much more than pyramids and royal tombs. One of the oldest and most sophisticated cultures in the world flourished along the Nile River in Egypt and brought us everything from paper to cosmetics. Today, you can find native Egyptian plants everywhere from the garden to the kitchen.
Most school children learn about papyrus in social studies. This reed plant, which still grows abundantly in marshes along the Nile River, was the basis for one of the first writing papers in the world. The word papyrus is where we have derived the modern day word paper.Papyrus is a popular plant for flower arrangements or exotic garden specimens in a water garden.
Blue Egyptian Water Lily
You can find pictures of the blue Egyptian water lily, which is a form of lotus on paintings that decorate the tombs of ancient Egypt. Typically, these paintings show ancient kings and well-to-do functionaries leisurely holding a lily to their nose to enjoy the fragrance. This underscores the fact that the ancient Egyptians revered the plant for its sweet scent and even produced their own perfumes from it. Today, you can put these flowers into your water garden for decoration or make a tea from blue lotus by boiling the flowers for 20 minutes.
Most people are not as familiar with the lawsonia inermis, or the Egyptian Privit shrub as they are with the product that it produces. Dye makers dry and crush the leaves of lawsonia inermis to create a potent red dye known as henna. In ancient times Egyptians used henna to dye their hair and skin as well as trading it along the silk road. In wood and cloth, henna is a permanent dye, while on skin henna makes a temporary, painless alternative to tattoos.
Cumin is a spice made from the cunium cyminum plant, a distant cousin of parsley. The plant grows throughout the Mediterranean including parts of Egypt. Cumin is a spice that provides heat to dishes. It is frequently included in powdered mixes including curry or chili powder.
- Photo Credit Blue Lotus Flower image by Yali Shi from Fotolia.com
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