Dwarf chicory

Dwarf chicory (Cichorium pumilum) in Israel. PICTURE: Iorsh 

The meror is mentioned in Exodus 12:8, in the context of the Passover meal: "That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with meror (bitter herbs), and bread made without yeast".

There are a couple of possibilities as to what the meror or ‘bitter herbs’ could be. They include the dwarf chicory (Cichorium pumilum) and the reichardia (Reichardia tingitana). The fact that the plural of meror (merorim) is used in this passage from Exodus, indicates that the word could refer to a wide variety of plants and may in fact include both of those that I have referred to. 

The dwarf chicory is often found beside roads or in abandoned fields, it can grow up to a metre in height. Its large oblong leaves are used as a herb in food and as cattle fodder as well. 

The reichardia is a desert plant that grows no taller than 20 centimetres. It has yellow poppy-shaped flowers.

This is an edited excerpt from Alvin Johnson's iBook 'Biblical Flora', 2017. The book is available for free download on iTunes. A teacher's edition is also available for purchase.