Notes Shaggy Sparrowwort

The princes digged the well, the nobles of the people digged it, by the direction of the lawgiver, with their staves. And from the wilderness they went to Mattanah.

Numbers 21:18 (KJV)

A well, princes dug it, the nobles of the people excavated it, with a commander's staff, with their own staffs. Then from the wilderness on to Mattanah

Numbers 21:18 (NWT)

Like Zohary, I am really stretching the point to include this one. But it is nice to have a member of a poisonous but anticancer plant family, the Thymelaeaceae, in this version of my Bible book. PubMed was amusing when I typed in Passerina, prompting me that there were more abstracts (hundreds on passerine birds). There was only one title for a plant species, and no abstract. I started going through my other Holy Land books; nothing on Passerina hirsuta. But then I stumbled onto Thymelaea hirsuta, a synonym preferred over Passerina hirsuta, in the illustrated book Medicinal Plants of North Africa by Loufty Boulos (BOU). What Boulos had to say about it jibed nicely with what Zohary had said, under the other name. Then I find in the Flora of Palestine (FP2) that Zohary, too, had called it Thymelaea hirsuta in that book. Here he says it is one of the most common shrubs in the Mediterranean coastal plain and also in the deserts. Bedouins use it for making rope (FP2). Justifying its inclusion, Zohary mentions that in the Aramaic version of the Pentateuch, Mattanah is translated as Matnan, a desert locality, perhaps identical with the Arabic mitnan. "Such indirect identification, which permits this important species to be included in the flora of the Bible, is supported by the fact that matnan or mitnan frequents dry wadis and other desert habitats and is so called in modern Hebrew" (ZOH).

Common Names (Shaggy Sparrowwort):

Matnan (Arab.; Aramaic; ZOH); Methnan (Arab.; Heb.; BOU; ZOH); Methnan Akhdar (Arab.; BOU); Metnan (Arab.; BOU); Mitnan (Arab.; ZOH); Passerine (Fr.; BOU); Shaggy Sparrowwort (Eng.; ZOH); Nscn.

Activities (Shaggy Sparrowwort):

Anthelmintic (f1; BOU); Cathartic (f1; BOU); Expectorant (f; BOU); Hydragogue (f1; BOU).

Indications (Shaggy Sparrowwort):

Constipation (f; BOU); Dandruff (f; BOU); Worm (f1; BOU).

Dosages (Shaggy Sparrowwort):

• Algerians use the leaf decoction as a dandruff shampoo (BOU).

• Chinese use a Chinese species for cancer; anticancer activity reported in other species (JLH).

• North Africans consider the leaves anthelmintic, cathartic, expectorant, and hydragogue (BOU).

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