Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Henna, the "camphire" of the Bible (Song of Solomon i. 14; iv. 13), is the Levantine shrub Lawsonia alba, belonging to the order Lythraceee, which is also known in England as "Egyptian privet," and in the West Indies, where it has been naturalised, as "Jamaica mignonette." Its older branches become spinous: its leaves are opposite, oval and entire; and its small flowers are in panicles, very fragrant, and have each four petals and eight stamens. The leaves and twigs are pulverised and made into a paste with hot water, and this is used by Mohammedan women from India to Egypt to dye their nails, palms and soles, of an orange-red. The dye was used by the ancient Egyptians, as is shown by their mummies, and is said to have been used by Mohammed for his beard, a custom still followed by men in Persia. The manes of horses are also sometimes stained with it, and it is used in dyeing leather, though not lasting. Its use on the hands and feet is said to check perspiration.