Center for the Environment presents ‘Holy Botany: Plants of the Bible’

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 23, 2019

“Holy Botany: Plants of the Bible” will be the topic of a presentation at the Center for the Environment at Catawba College at 6:30 p.m Thursday.

The program will be held in Room 300.

Lytton John Musselman, the Mary Payne Hogan Distinguished Professor of Botany at Old Dominion University, will discuss his extensive research on plants and the natural environment of the Old Testament and New Testament.

Throughout history, there have been sometimes futile and occasionally inaccurate attempts to name and identify biblical plants. Musselman has devoted much of his life’s work researching the natural history, ethnobotany and identity of plants in the holy texts through research in Sudan, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Greece, Oman, Turkey, Brunei Darussalam and the United Arab Emirates.

Musselman has learned many secrets of plants in the Bible such as flax, mustard, wheat, aloe and the forbidden fruit. His presentation will address key biblical plants — some allegorical, some clearly identifiable and others up for debate.

Musselman’s main teaching interest and one of his chief research interests is ethnobotany, broadly defined as the human use of plants.

Ethnobotanical research has centered on two broad geographical regions.

One of those areas is the Middle East where Musselman has lived in five countries studying the uses of plants in ancient times. He has published three volumes: “Jordan in Bloom: Flowers of the Holy Land” commissioned by Queen Rania of Jordan and published by the Jordan River Foundation in 2000; “Figs, Dates, Laurel and Myrrh: Plants of the Bible and Quran” with a foreword by Garrison Keillor published by Timber Press in 2007; and “A Dictionary of Bible Plants” published by Cambridge University Press in 2011.

Closer to home, his book on Chesapeake Bay plants (2012) with David Knepper and “A Quick Guide to Edible Plants” (2013) with Harold Wiggins were published by Johns Hopkins University Press.

“Wildflowers of the Adirondacks” with Donald Leopold will be published by Johns Hopkins University Press 2019.

Musselman is a graduate of Beloit College, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The program is free and open to the public, but reservations are required. Call 704-637-4791.