Plants Used in Making Attar/Ruh Series-Gulhina/Lawsonia inermis/alba



The henna shrub is the camphire of the English Bible, :ind the cypress shrub of the Greeks and Romans. It is held in esteem by the Arabs, the Turks, and Indian and Persian Muhammadans. The colouring of the flowers is soft, and fragrance delightful; hedges formed of it are common in all India. The distilled water of the flowers is used as a perfume. The extract of the flowers, leaves, and shoots is used by the hakims in leprosy, and in obstinate cutaneous diseases, half a teaspoonful being given twice in 24 hours. Muhaiumadan women in India, Persia, Arabia, and Barbary use the shoots, triturated with rice gruel or water, in staining the nails, palms of the hands, and soles of the feet of a red colour. In all these countries the manes and tails of the horses are stained red in the same manner. The essential oil of the petals is priced at Rs. 2 per tola. Ispund, the seeds of this plant, are burnt as a charm with benjamin, or with mustard seed and patchouli, Pogostemon patchouli. Its wood is strong, and suited for tool handles, tent pegs. etc.
The cyclopædia of India and of eastern and southern Asia: commercial ...
 By Edward Balfour
It has been already noted that the flowers of the Lawsonia are very fragrant, whence they derive in the West Indies the name of Jamaica mignonette. According to Lady Callcott, they are often used by the eastern women to adorn their hair; and Mr Simmonds states that the distilled water from the flowers is used as a perfume. The plant is further credited with the possession of vnlnerary and astringent properties
The Encyclopædia Britannica: A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and ..., Volume 11
 By Thomas Spencer Baynes, William Harrison De Puy
There has, however, never really been any difficulty in settling the identity of the plant here in question. The " Camphire" of the Authorised Version, and the "Kopher" therefore of the Bible, is the well-known "Henna" of the East. It is a plant of which everybody has heard, though few probably have ever thought of it as a Bible-flower. It furnishes the favourite dye of the Eastern female world, the indispensable toilet requisite of the Mohammedan belle. Its botanical designation is "Lawsonia inermis "; more exactly perhaps styled "Lawsonia Alba," a very beautiful flowering shrub, universally esteemed throughout the East from the very remotest times on account of the fragrance of its blossoms and the colouring property of its leaves. It is from the latter in all probability that it derives its name in Hebrew; "Kopher" being allied to "Kaphar," to cover or overlay, hence to paint—as was the custom of Jewish women—with the unguent formed of the Henna leaves....
The whole plant is one in the highest degree " grateful to the senses of sight and smell." The deep grey bark of the stem, the transparent, emerald green of the foliage, the rich blending of white blossoms, interspersed with golden anthers—something resembling in habit of growth our English spring favourite, the lilac—contribute to make the Henna conspicuous among flowering plants, and second in beauty not even to the Myrtle in full bloom. The clusters of flowers exhale a delicious fragrance that fills chamber, garden, and forecourt. Branches are to be found scattered about the apartments of the Easterns; and no fair inhabitant of the Harem or Zenana considers her morning toilet complete without a sprig or two of the scented blossom fastened to her loose robes or even carried in her bosom—recalling in this respect the poetic allusion of the Song of Songs, "My love is to me as a cluster of Henna flowers—of Henna flowers from the gardens of Engedi.
Bible flowers and flower lore

An infusion of the flowers is said to cure headache, and to be a good application to bruises; a pillow stuffed with them has the reputation of acting as a soporific. (Dr. Emerson.) An ointment is also applied to bruises, and a perfumed oil is prepared from them, which is called in Arabic Duhn-el-faghiya, and is used as a cosmetic.
The Vegetable materia medica of western India
 By William Dymock

So sweet and softened is the copious blossom of the Lawsonia; so bright is the green of the foliage, both colours improving by contrast with the deep hue of the bark of the younger shoots; so fragrant withal is the bloom, that the plant, in its native countries, is a general favourite. In gardens it is cultivated universally ; the women gather and cherish the flowers as our English maidens do the lily-of-thevalley; they place them in the bosoms of their dresses ;—and as in a thousand other oriental usages, for the East is the stronghold of the changeless as to manners and customs, doubtless in so doing they do but repeat the practice of twenty-five centuries ago, and thus interpret to us not only why the bride should be compared to a "cluster of kopher," but why the plant should be placed in that delightful garden, amid "pleasant fruits" and spikenard.
The introduction of kopher into the bride's garden carries with it another pleasing idea. From the very earliest ages a fashion prevalent with the oriental ladies has been to dye their finger-nails with a colouring-matter prepared from the leaves of the Lawsonia. The mummies of female Egyptians have been found with their nails thus coloured, and in ancient Palestine the same usage seems to have ruled. In the mummy-cases are found fragments even of the sprays of flowers!
Scripture botany, a descriptive account of the plants, trees [&c.] mentioned ... By Leopold Hartley Grindon


Throughout Egypt, India, Persia, Arabia, and Greece, it is held in universal estimation for its beauty and sweet perfume. Mohammed pronounced it the chief of the sweet-scented flowers of this world and of the next. In Egypt, the flowers are sold in the street, the vendor calling out as he proceeds—" O, odours of Paradise! O flowers of the Henna!"  ...
Hennaflowers are of a pale yellow tint, and emit a sweet perfume; they are made into garlands by the Hindus, and offered to travellers in official ceremonies; thus we read that at the reception of M. Rousselet by the King of Gwalior, the ceremony concluded by the guests being decked with garlands of Henna-flowers, placed around their necks and hands. An extradt prepared from these flowers is employed in religious ceremonies
Plant lore, legends, and lyrics: Embracing the myths, traditions ...

 By Richard Folkard (jr.)
Its flowers have a strong penetrating odour; by distillation an extract is obtained which is used in the baths, and as a perfume in visits and religious ceremonies. It was no doubt on account of their odour that Henna flowers were scattered by the Hebrews in the apartments of a bride, and for the same reason the Egyptians keep it in their rooms. A considerable trade is carried on in Henna leaves, which yields a large revenue to Egypt. Moore sings of this plant:— "Thus some bring leaves of Henna to imbue
The finger-ends of a bright roseate hue;
So bright that in the mirror's depth they seem
Like tips of coral branches in the stream."
Rambles in search of wild flowers, and how to distinguish them
 By Margaret Plues
Prosper Alpinus states that invalids procure ease by inhaling the perfume of the flowers of henna, and applying them to the forehead. The Moors, who were well acquainted with this quality, made very extensive use of the flowers for this purpose....
Olivier says that the henna (which the Jews call hacoper) furnishes flowers of a penetrating odour, and that an aromatic water was obtained from them by distillation, which was employed in baths, and as a perfume in religious ceremonies, such as marriage, circumcision, and the feast of Courban-Bieram. The Jews had also a custom of sprinkling the flowers of henna on the garments of the newly married.
The ancient Egyptians made use of henna for the purpose of perfuming the oils and unguents with which they anointed the body with a view of obtaining suppleness. They also employed it in embalming; and flowering branches of henna are found in mumrny cases.
Yearbook of Pharmacy 1875
 By Yearbook of Pharmacy 1875