Sunday, July 29, 2007

Ibn al-Baitar (c. 1188)

Sierra Club


Rhubarb grows in China. The most famous kind of Rhubarb grows in the northern regions of China, (i.e in Turkestan), which the Persians call Chin, for they pronounce "S" like "Chin." They call this plant "Rawand."


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Abu Muhammad Abdallah Ibn Ahmad Ibn al-Baitar Dhiya al-Din al-Malaqi was one of the greatest scientists of Muslim Spain and was the greatest botanist and pharmacist of the Middle Ages. He was born in the Spanish city of Malaqa (Malaga) towards the end of the 12th century.

He learned botany from Abu al-Abbas al-Nabati, a learned botanist, with whom he started collecting plants in and around Spain. In 1219 he left Spain on a plant-collecting expedition and travelled along the northern coast of Africa as far as Asia Minor. The exact modes of his travel (whether by land or sea) are not known, but the major stations he visited include Bugia, Qastantunia (Constantinople), Tunis, Tripoli, Barqa and Adalia. After 1224 he entered the service of al-Kamil, the Egyptian Governor, and was appointed chief herbalist. In 1227 al-Kamil extended his domination to Damaseus, and Ibn al-Baitar accompanied him there which provided him an opportunity to collect plants in Syria His researches on plants extended over a vast area:including Arabia and Palestine, which he either visited or managed to collect plants from stations located there. He died in Damascus in 1248. [Adapted from Muslim Scholar's Page]

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