Arum palaestinum is a species of flowering herbaceous perennial plant in the family Araceae and the genus Arum (also known as black calla, Solomon's lily, priest's hood, noo'ah loof and kardi) It is native to the Levant and other parts of the Mediterranean Basin, and has been naturalized in North America, North Africa, Europe, Western Asia, and Australia The family Araceae includes other well-known plants such as Anthurium, Caladium, and Philodendron.
Arum palaestinum is perhaps best known for it long history in the Middle East as food and for it use in traditional Middle Eastern medicine.
It grows 10–25 cm (0.33–0.82 ft) high. It blooms in the spring, between the months of March and April, by which time the plant is easily recognized by its dark purplish-black spadix enclosed by a reddish-brown spathe. It is perennial plant. The leaves of A. palaestinum are light green, narrow, and upright with a purplish-black color. The root is tuberous.
Like other members of the genus Arum, this plant gives off a scent that attracts flies, which distribute the pollen; while most other family members smell like dung and carrion, this plant can smell like rotting fruit as well.
The symptoms caused by exposure to the raw plant include mucous membrane irritation, and burning, and consuming larger doses causes nausea, diarrhea, and cramping. Because exposure to skin can cause irritation it is often handled lightly, or with gloves.
Engraved drawings of various species of Arum are seen in the Temple of Thutmose III in Karnak (Egypt), depicting the plants when they were brought from Canaan in the year 1447 BCE. The plant is mentioned in the Mishnah, where its cultivation and use as food was described.
In traditional medicine among Arabs in Palestine, Arum palaestinum extracts have been used for cancer, intestinal worms, infections in open wounds, urinary tract obstructions, and kidney stones, and are thought to strengthen bones.:331 Jews in Iraq have used it traditionally for worms, skin sores, syphilis, rheumatism, tuberculosis, and diarrhea. It has also been used for cough and constipation.
In a recent revision of his book, Killing Cancer – Not People, author Robert G. Wright discusses one dietary supplement company’s use of Arum palaestinum in one of its products.
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- Theophrastus, Enquiry into Plants (vol. 2), [Book VII, Chapter XII, Paragraph 2], p. 125 in the Loeb Classical Library series: "The root of cuckoo-pint (Arum) is also edible, and so are the leaves, if they are first boiled down in vinegar." See: Theophrasts (1916). "Enquiry into Plants". doi:10.4159/DLCL.theophrastus-enquiry_plants.1916. Retrieved 7 February 2017. Cite journal requires
|journal=(help) – via digital Loeb Classical Library (subscription required)
- Ali-Shtayeh, Mohammed S; Jamous, Rana M; Al-Shafie', Jehan H; Elgharabah, Wafa' A; Kherfan, Fatemah A; Qarariah, Kifayeh H; Khdair, Isra' S; et al. (2008). "Traditional Knowledge of Wild Edible Plants Used in Palestine (Northern West Bank): A Comparative Study". Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine. 4 (1): 13. doi:10.1186/1746-4269-4-13. PMC 2396604. PMID 18474107.
- Saad, Bashar; Said, Omar (2011). Greco-Arab and Islamic herbal medicine : traditional system, ethics, safety, efficacy, and regulatory issues. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley. ISBN 978-0-470-47421-1.
- Ali-Shtayeh, Mohammed S; et al. (2008). "Traditional knowledge of wild edible plants used in Palestine (Northern West Bank): A comparative study". Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine. 4 (1): 13. doi:10.1186/1746-4269-4-13. PMC 2396604. PMID 18474107.
- Wright, Robert G., Killing Cancer – Not People, 4th ed., American Anti-Cancer Institute, (2019), pp. 149-151.
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