Flora Palaestina – The Plants and their Uses

Flora Palaestina - The Plants and their Uses

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Flora Palaestina is the historic description of plants native to Israel, Palestine and Jordan, an area containing almost 3000 plant species growing in desert, Mediterranean, subtropical and mountainous terrain. Plants have been a vital part of the economy of this region for thousands of years as medicines, food, cosmetics, spices, perfumes and as raw materials used in agriculture, veterinary medicine, building and other local economic uses including construction, basket & rope making, clothing, dying etc. Medicinal plants are particularly prevalent with estimates that over 30% of local species have medicinal activity and with many historical sources referring to their traditional use. The region also contains some of the world`s most important wild progenitors of domesticated crops such as wild barley, wheat, oats, garlic, peas, lentils and chick peas, the original source of much of the world`s food supply.
Despite this rich legacy plants of Flora Palaestina are seriously threatened by environmental degradation, climate change and development. Currently over 20% are on the “Red List” of endangered species, more than 30% categorized as rare and at least 34 species locally extinct in the last 50 yrs. As traditional healers are replaced by medical clinics and local village economies once dependent on plants are replaced by modern industrial development and imports, the unique knowledge of plant use acquired by Jews and Arabs over 3000 years is rapidly being lost.

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