Holy Cedar

Holy Cedar, pride of the World, symbol of the righteous, you made the Temple of Jerusalem, built by Salomon. Your bark, rich in resin, was an essential element in the cure against leprosy. You are the King of the Levantine forests and Lebanon chose your image on its coat of arm and its national flag. Your…

Sandalwood

Sandalwood. Circled by venomous snakes, you are inaccessible to the mortals. Some say that like a wealthy king, you are also naturally surrounded by vicious people. But holy, you are, as you embody the Vedic deities and later our Lord Buddha and Ganesha. Ancient Candana, ground into fine powder and mixed with pure water, you…

Cucumber

Cucumber. You are perhaps the oldest vegetable cultivated by humans, with your traces found in ancient sites older than 3,000 years. The Uruk King Gilgamesh was already praising your health benefits, more than four millenniums ago. Gourds, melons, and cantaloupes are all members of your great family.  Your aroma and fragrance are so fresh and…

The Coolest Herb

Mint. In the Antiquity, your freshening smell was appreciated in funerals for covering the smell of decay and to prepare the kykeon, a psychoactive beverage drunk at secret religious rites, the Eleusinian Mysteries. In the same mythology, Persephone, daughter of Zeus and Demeter, Queen of the Underworld, metamorphosed you, beautiful naiad Minthe, into a bush…

Geranium or Pelargonium?

Crane, Heron, and Stork. Three large aquatic birds with long legs, a feathery crest, and an impressive beak. The resemblance of the seed pods to the bird is what made the naturalists and biologists name the family Geraniaceae and divide them into three genera: Geraniums (geranós:  crane in Greek), Erodiums (erodiós:  heron in Greek) and Pelargoniums (pelargós: stork in Greek). These…

Piper Nigrum

Piper Nigrum or Black Pepper is native to the South-Western Province of Kerala in India, where it grows wild. The fruits of this flowering vine have been appreciated or even venerated by humans for millenniums. So much that already in the antiquity, the Greeks and the Romans imported black pepper from Egyptian merchants for a fortune….

Ambergris

Ambergris. Like a bottle at sea, you carry a fragrant message to the World. Born in the entrails of a cachalot, you started your journey within the most noisome wastes of the animal. Your waxy nature allows you to float and your odyssey can last for decades before you eventually wash up on shore. Lucky are…

Her Majesty Jasmine

Her Majesty Jasmine. The perfumer Edmond Roudnitska said once that “if Rose is the queen of the flowers, Jasmine is the queen of the fragrances.” Thanks to you, Grasse, in South of France, metamorphosed from a filthy and stinky leather tanning town to the world’s  capital of perfume. The Moors, who discovered you in South…

Honeysuckle

Honeysuckle. What a funny name for a funny bine. Day after day, you spiral and climb around your vegetal neighbors to get the best spot under the sun. Butterflies and hummingbirds are crazy about your nectar, and the children have also learned how to taste your honey by pulling your pistil from the bottom. You are classified as…

Lily of the Valley

 Lily of the Valley. There is always a wild side to an innocent face, and your cute white bells hide a poisonous nature. You are celebrated since the antiquity where you symbolized Mary’s tears and were in the lyrics of the Song of Songs of Salomon. In the language of the flowers, you are the symbol…