Monday, 11 April 2011

Number 6 - Silphium

The first historical entry for the blog is the ancient Silphium plant. Its seed were used as currency in the North African town of Cyrene. A possible member of the now extinct Ferula genus or as a type of Giant Fennel. Its identity is unknown.

It was used as a method to cure many aliments, such as fevers, aches and pains, but it was also used as a form of contraception, similar to the modern use of 'the Pill'.

Its seeds were shaped like elongated hearts, and it is possible this is the origin of the heart symbol we use today.

A coin from Cyrene depicting a Silphium flower and stalk. (Source:1889 edition of Principal Coins of the Ancients. Wikipedia) 


  1. I find it interesting that the plant was so important that they put it on a coin.

  2. They really did love that silphium :)