Pin It

Middle East

Facebooktwitterby feather

Middle Eastern Botany.

Worth collected a number of works which examined botany in the Middle East. The earliest was a small copy of Johann Vesling’s De plantis aegyptiis observationes, printed at Padua in 1638; to this was added Joseph Pitton de Tournefort’s Relation d’un voyage du Levant (Amsterdam, 1718) and Johann Christian Buxbaum’s Plantarum minus cognitarum centuria I complectens: plantas circa Byzantium & in Oriente observatas (St. Petersburg, 1728), the two latter works concentrating on the botany of Turkey.

Middle East1

Johann Vesling, De plantis aegyptiis observationes (Padua, 1638), Beid el Ssar vera effigies.

Vesling (1598-1649) was a German botanist who had studied medicine at the universities of Leiden and Bologna. He may also have studied at Venice – he certainly took part in an anatomical demonstration there in the winter of 1627-28 – and it was his Venetian contacts, men such as Alvise Cornaro, which led him to Egypt in the latter year. Cornaro had been sent to Egypt to represent the interests of the Serene Republic in Cairo and Vesling accompanied him as his physician. As the full title of Vesling’s work makes clear, he was keen to augment the information in De Plantis Aegypti liber (Venice, 1592) of the Venetian botanist, Prospero Alpini (1553-1617). (Worth didn’t collect a copy of this earlier work). Vesling stayed in Egypt for at least four years but did not travel widely within the country: Hintzche (1976) suggests he limited his explorations within Egypt to the area between Rosetta and Memphis. Certainly this plant, the ‘Beid el Ssar’ or ‘Beid el ossar’ was to be found in the area around Alexandria. The acacia plant was far more common. It had originally been given its name by Dioscorides in reference to its many thorns. Its species name, ‘Acacia nilotica L’, given it by Linnaeus, was indicative of one of its main areas of growth.

Middle East2

Johann Vesling, De plantis aegyptiis observationes (Padua, 1638), Acacia vera effigies.


Hintzche, Erich (1976), ‘Vesling, Johann’ in Dictionary of Scientific Biography edited by Charles Coulston Gillispie (New York), vol XIV, pp. 12-13.638), Acacia vera effigies.

Facebooktwitterby feather