Smyrnium olusatrum, Alexanders, Horse Parsley, Wild celery,
Hebrew: מורית גדולה, Arabic: السمورنيون البقلي

Scientific name:  Smyrnium olusatrum L.
Common name:   Alexanders, Horse Parsley, Wild celery
Hebrew name:  מורית גדולה
Arabic name:  السمورنيون البقلي
Plant Family:  Umbelliferae / Apiaceae, סוככיים

Israel native Plants

Life form:  Hemicryptophyte
Leaves:  Alternate, rosette, dissected, dentate or serrate
Flowers:  Yellow
Flowering Period:   March, April, May
Habitat:   Mediterranean maquis and forest
Distribution:  Mediterranean Woodlands and Shrublands
Chorotype:   Mediterranean
Summer shedding:  Ephemeral

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Derivation of the botanical name:
Smyrnium, Greek, myrrh, from smell.
olusatrum, Latin olus, potherb or vegetable; atrum, gloomy black, because of its seeds being notably large and utterly black. The scientific name of alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum) reflects the discredited etymology from olus atrum.
  • The standard author abbreviation L. is used to indicate Carl Linnaeus (1707 – 1778), a Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist, the father of modern taxonomy.

Alexanders (smyrnium olsatrum) is Greek hipposelinon or smyrnion, Latin holusatrum.
Smyrnium olusatrum was known to Theophrastus (c. 371 – c. 287 BCE), in 322 BCE, and its cultivation as a pot herb was described by Pliny the Elder (23-79 CE).

Theophrastus, Enquiry into Plants:
  1. Book 7.6.3: Horse-celery has a leaf like that of the marsh kind, but is of close habit and has a big stalk, and its root is as thick as a radish and black…
  2. Book 9.1.3-4: Now the juice of alexanders is like myrrh…
Pliny, Natural History:
  1. Book 19.163: XLVIII A herb of exceptionally remarkable nature is black-herb, the Greek name for which is horse-parsley, and which other call zmyrnium.
  2. Book 20.117: XLVI. Olusatrum (alexanders), also called hipposelinum (horse parsley), is antipathetic to scorpions. Its seed taken in drink cures colic and intestinal worms. The seed too, boiled and drunk in honey wine, cures dysuria.
  3. Book 27.133-136: CIX. Smyrnion has a stem like that of celery and rather broad leaves, which grow mostly about its many shoots, from the curve of which they spring; they are juicy, bending towards the ground, and with a drug-like smell not unpleasing with a sort of sharpness. The colour shades off to yellow; the heads of the stems are umbellate, as are those of celery; the seed is round and black.


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Smyrnium olusatrum, Alexanders, Horse Parsley, Wild celery, מורית גדולה
Location: Hermon Stream Nature Reserve


Smyrnium olusatrum, Alexanders, Horse Parsley, Wild celery, מורית גדולה
Location: Hermon Stream Nature Reserve