“Its name means “the place of spirits” [in Arabic], and it comes in many forms…”
Its name means “the place of spirits” [in Arabic], and it comes in many forms, all of them from the lamiaceae family, related also to the asteraceae family and origanum genus, as is the case with rosemary and artemisia, and it is known by us in Fes and all parts of Morocco as ‘lhalhaal’. It grows to around the height of a forearm or two, with many branches and delicate leaves of a dusty colour and of perfumed smell, with a woody trunk, on top of it interweaving branches, on top of them something resembling the sheaf of a Darnel about the size of an acorn, resembling the flowers of oregano, arranged with two to five sheafs in a cluster. It grows in mountainous and hard ground and I saw a lot of it in the Taghiya mountains [located in the High Atlas near Beni Mellal] where I made cuttings by hand, close to the grave of the saint Sidi Abi Yazaa.
Hot and dry in its first growing stage, some say in its second too.
Uses and Characteristics
Opens up clogging, purifies the intestines, protects the internal organs. Its features purify the brain, aid depression, use alongside Tragacanth. Helpful against mouldiness, protects bladder function, and if used as a hot press relieves aching joints. If taken as a preserve with honey or sugar as is done with rose and violet, it helps to lift the mood and get rid of melancholy. Helpful against poisoning and vermin bites when taken as an infusion, and if taken alongside caper then it is helps against cold in the stomach and all kinds of cold.
From Hadiqat al-Azhar (The Garden of Blossoms) by al-Wazeer al-Ghassani, a 16th Century pharmacopoeia. Translated by Miriam Hicklin.