Jamal Bellakhdar's book (La pharmacopée marocaine traditionnelle. Médecine arabe ancienne et savoirs populaires. Paris, Ibis Press, 1997. 764 p. 12 pl.), out of print for long, is the result of long years of field and bibliographical research, in old Arabic authors as well as modern scientific publications.
It contains in particular many popular names, that the author takes care in locating precisely in space, giving his source when it is reproduced from a printed book, and detailing its meaning when apparent, and its etymology. A linguist would not have done best, and we thank the author who allowed us to reproduce such names on Pl@ntUse.
A quick review of Arabic and Berber names allows us to observe the richness of expressive names. It also shows how much plant names are embedded in a long history of Mediterranean interchanges, between East and West, but also North and South. Linguists know it of course, but it is worth reminding. Many names come from classical or Eastern Arabic, which incorporate names borrowed from Greek, Persian, Indian languages and Turkish. But we also find, especially in Berber, names of Latin origin, which probably go up to the period of the Roman Empire, which lasted from ca. 146 BC to 670 AD. Much later, French and Spanish names were borrowed to designate introduced plants.
As examples of Latin names borrowed by Berber, let us cite taydā (taeda) for Pinus halepensis or tarūbiya (rubia) for Rubia tinctorum.
The articles put on line follow the plan of the book. Botanists can use them by searching by family. What remains to be done is updating nomenclature, but also creating indexes. The names will also be pasted in the species pages of Pl@ntUse, to make them easily retrievable.
Only articles about plants have been uploaded. The book also contains articles about animal and mineral products.
We now have to wait for the publication of a revised and augmented (about 25% !) version of the book, that the author says will be for soon.
17 March 2015
PS. Such pages complement Trabut's Algerian names
and Le Floc'h's Tunisian ethnobotany
. Your collaboration is welcome.