It’s impossible to resist the lure of spice markets. The vibrant colors, the sculpted displays, the strange and exotic nature of the herbs in baskets always draw me in.

The gnarled, web-like fists of Rosa Santa Maria mystified me.

“It’s good for luck, and smells good in the home,” one shopkeeper said.

The overflowing barrels of dark red whorls?


The green reed-like stalks. Lemon grass?

“No lemon grass. Lemon tea,” he said.

“And that?” I pointed to a barrel of what looked like gray hay.

“Bedouin tea.”

Tasty, no doubt, and refreshing, I’m sure, especially on a cold desert night.

Filed Under Africa & Middle East, Egypt, Markets


6 Responses to “Sharm el-Sheikh’s Old Market Spices”

  1. Paulo Bastos on March 10th, 2009 11:31 am

    Dear Mr.Larry Habegger,
    I read your comment about “rosa santa maria”.
    Do you know more about it?It´s Botanic name?
    Where can I find more about it?
    Thank you for your article.
    All the best,
    Paulo Bastos.

  2. Larry Habegger on April 6th, 2009 1:39 pm

    Paulo, I haven’t been able to find more information on rosa santa maria. Maybe I need to go back to Sharm el-Sheikh!


  3. Balky on October 29th, 2009 11:37 am

    Well, I’m still trying to find some more info about this plant.

    I took one with me, and I planted seeds couple of days back.

    Maybe I’ll get something, maybe not, I’ll let you know :)

  4. Ghislaine on August 12th, 2010 8:00 pm

    I just happened to bump into this beautiful picture and wondered what the blue stuff is, what an intense gorgeous color! Besides that: the herb is called Jericho flower or rose or Resurrection plant, it opens itself up when you put it in water, there are actually two plants going by this name: Anastatica hierochuntica and Selaginella lepidophylla

  5. Chloë on May 18th, 2011 9:35 am

    I have been to sharm before and am returning there soon , as I loved it so much! I went to this Market and i remember that stall. I completely forgot to ask the man what the blue spice was, and I was wondering if you knew what it was ?

  6. Larry Habegger on May 18th, 2011 11:08 am

    I wish I could tell you but I don’t know. Sorry.

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