5 Essential Palestinian Plants

There are over six million Palestinians living in the diaspora. The loss of their homeland was the aftermath of the Nakbas, in 1948 and 1967, wars that led to Israelis forcefully occupying their homes. They were exiled from generations of ancestral ties, their roots, their communities.

This is why rituals and practices for Palestinians in the diaspora are highly significant. They are not just experiences. The memories, the scents, the tastes, the sounds- they keep the Palestinian identity alive. They preserve a memory of a life that was stolen from them. They remind Palestinians of their connection to their homes and culture, replacing suffering and trauma with hope and nostalgia.


OLIVE (Zaytoun)

Palestine holds some of the world’s most ancient olive trees, dating back over 5000 years old. They are a symbolic mark of the strong roots and connections that tie Palestinians to their land, and also symbolise resistance and nationality. It is custom to pass down these olive trees from generation to generation.

November 27, 2005, a Palestinian woman was photographed hugging an olive tree after it was attacked by Israeli settlers. ‘’I’d raised the tree like my child”.

Every year there is a harvest season where families and farmers pick the olives together, an ancient tradition started by their ancestors. Around 100,000 households rely on olives for their primary income, and the oil produced is one of the highest quality and tastiest in the world.


SAGE (Marmariya)

Sage can be found growing everywhere in Palestine. Sage tea is very common in most Palestinian households, the scent filling up the home at a family or friend gathering. Sometimes they add mint and chamomile for extra flavour.

Sage tea commonly is drank after dinner to aid in digestion and eliminate gas or heartburn. It also burned to cleanse the energies of the home.


Chamomile (Baboonej)

Chamomile is found abundantly all over Palestine. For centuries chamomile has been used to treat inflammatory ailments in Palestine. They use this plant for soothing tired eyes, upset stomaches, and for calming the mind and heart.

Chamomile is added to baby baths to encourage them to fall asleep as the plant is known to ease tension and relax the body.



Jaffa orange are much loved due to their sweet and seedless inside. By the early 20th century, Palestine was exporting up to 38 million oranges annually. Orange groves were owned by Christians, Muslims, and Jews, and they all employed one another as well.

After world war 2 the industry began to decline fast due to the establishment of kibbutz, that led to Muslim and Jewish farms no longer hiring workers of the opposite religion. After the Nakba in 1948, Palestinian orange groves were confiscated and made Israeli property, taking this ancient business from its true owners.


THYME ( Za’atar)

There isn’t a single household in Palestine that doesn’t have za’atar. It is a combination of ground dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, ground sumac, toasted sesame seeds, and salt. It is encouraged to be eaten in the morning because of the belief it makes the mind alert.

In 1977, the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture declared wild za'atar a protected plant in Israel, strictly regulating its harvesting. The criminalization of za'atar harvesting continues to be enforced in Israel and occupied territories of the West Bank by the Israeli Nature and Parks Association (INPA). The enforcement has disproportionately negatively impacted Palestinians, leading to debates about the policy's motivations and efficacy.

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