Eruca sativa, Garden Rocket, Roquette, Arugula,
Hebrew: בן-חרדל מצוי ,רוֹקֶט ,ארוגולה, Arabic: جرجير

Scientific name:  Eruca sativa Miller
Common name:  Garden Rocket, Roquette, Arugula
Hebrew name:   בן-חרדל מצוי ,רוֹקֶט או ארוגולה
Arabic name:   جرجير
Plant Family:  Cruciferae / Brassicaceae, מצליבים

Flores, Israel, Eruca sativa, Garden Rocket, Roquette, Arugula, בן-חרדל מצוי ,רוֹקֶט  ,ארוגולה, جرجير

Life form:   Therophyte, annual
Stems:  Up to 60 cm by 30 cm
Leaves:  Alternate, rosette, dissected once, dentate or serrate
Flowers:  Green, yellow
Fruits / pods:  Siliqua 12–35 mm long with an apical beak, and containing several seeds
Flowering Period:   January, February, March, April
Habitat:   Batha, Phrygana
Distribution:  Mediterranean Woodlands and Shrublands, Semi-steppe shrublands, Shrub-steppes, Deserts and extreme deserts
Chorotype:  Med - Irano-Turanian
Summer shedding:  Ephemeral

Eruca sativa, Garden Rocket, Roquette, Arugula, בן-חרדל מצוי ,רוֹקֶט  ,ארוגולה, جرجير
Derivation of the botanical name:
Eruca, Latin name for Eruca sativa or rocket-salad.
sativa, cultivated.
The Hebrew name: שלח, shelach, so called because it resembles a short sword (שלח).
  • The standard author abbreviation Miller is used to indicate Philip Miller (1691 – 1771), a botanist of Scottish descent.
Eruca sativa is a native plant of Israel, documented in the old literature of ancient Israel, including Jewish, Classical and Islamic sources up to the Middle ages.
In the Bible Eruca sativa is mentioned as oroth, in Arabic it is called jarjir and in the Talmud it appears as gargir. It can probably be identified with Eruca sativa. Oroth seems not to be a specific plant, but the Aramaic translation is 'vegetables'. The biblical verb aroh, means 'to collect, pick, gather.' It was found that rocket was used as a garden crop and spice. It was also known as a medicinal plant and was used as an aphrodisiac, for eye infections, and for digestive and kidney problems.

See the list of Medicinal herbs in Israel, the parts used and their medical uses to treat various diseases.

  • Pliny the elder, Book XX 125-126: "Rocket seed cures the poisons of scorpions and of the shrew-mouse; it keeps off all the little parasites breeding on the body, and removes spots on the skin of the face when applied with honey, freckles when applied with vinegar, reducing livid scars to whiteness when mixed with ox-gall.. Taken in wine it is said to harden as it were the feeling of those about to be flogged. As a seasoning for dishes it imparts such a pleasant flavour that the Greeks have called it euzomon (good broth). It is thought that if the eyes are fomented with slightly pounded rocket, clearness of vision is restored… the coughing of babies is soothed. A decoration of its root in water extracts broken bones. We have already spoken of rocket as an aphrodisiac; if three leaves of wild rocket plunked with the left hand and pounded are drunk in hydromel, they so act."
  • Dioscorides, (circa 40—90 CE), Περὶ ὕλης ἰατρικής, De Materia Medica ("Regarding Medical Materials"):
    170. EUZOMON. Eruca sativa, Rocket.
    Ευζωμον [the Romans call it Eruca, ye Aegyptians Ethrekicen, the Africans Asuric] This being eaten raw in any great quantitie doth provoke Venery, and the seed of it also doth work ye like effect, being ureticall and digestive, & good for ye belly. They doe also use the seed of it in making of sawces, which that it may endure the longer, having macerated it first in vinegar, or milke, making it into Trochiscks, they afterward lay it up in store. There also grows a wild Eruca, especially in Iberia towards ye west, whose seed the men there doe use instead of Mustard. It is more diureticall, & farre sharper than the Sative.
  • The Eruca sativa is enumerated in the Talmud: for eye ailments, scurvy, and intestinal worms, גַּרְגִּיר (gargir, "roquet"; Eruca sativa; Shab. 109a; Git. 69b);
    First the Gemara (c. 500 CE), Yoma 18, cites a verse from the book of II Kings 4:39-40:
    Gargir (white-mustard) is referred to in II Kings as 'Oros' - because it lights up the eyes.
    Rabbi Yochanan: why is this called "orot" [the Hebrew plural for lights: or=light]: because it lightens /brightens the eyes.
    Rabbi Huna: who finds "gargir" [eruca] should possibly eat it and if not wipes it over his eyes.
    Rabbi Papa points out that this applies only to Gargir Metzarna'ah (,גרגיר מצרנה border grain - meaning those that grow on the border which do not have other seeds growing around them to weaken their strength.
  • John Gerard (1545 – 1611/12), General Historie of Plantes:
    Rocket is a good salad herb if it be eaten with Lettuce, Purslane, and such cold herbes...
    The use of Rocket stirs up bodily lust, especially the seed. It provokes urine and causes good digestion".

  • Bible Resources:
    1. 2 Kings 4:39-40
      One of them went out into the fields to gather herbs and found a wild vine.
      He gathered some of its gourds and filled the fold of his cloak.
      When he returned, he cut them up into the pot of stew, though no one knew what they were.
      The stew was poured out for the men, but as they began to eat it, they cried out,
      "O man of God, there is death in the pot!" And they could not eat it.

    Flowers of Israel, Native plants

    Eruca sativa, Garden Rocket, Roquette, Arugula, בן-חרדל מצוי ,רוֹקֶט  ,ארוגולה, جرجير

    Israel Flowers