Herbs of the Holyland by Nissim Krispil

advanced search »
Halfa grass
Common name:

Halfa grass

Synonym name:

love grass

Hebrew name:


Scientific name:

Desmostachya bipinnata


Poaceae - הדגניים

Arabic name:

رمال حلف חלפא

perennial plant
0.8-1.2 m
Flowering color:
Flowering period:
Growing areas:
The plant grows in the Arava desert and in the coastal plains of israel, on sandy soils and sand-loam soils.
Halfa grass is an Old World perennial grass, long known and used in human history. It belongs to the Poaceae family and mostly grows on sandy soils. The plant has Crawling rhizome, deep in the ground; its leaves are elongated, linear and upright, they are rough and has thorny edge. The blooms are spokes that arranged in linear panicles and carried on rough culm.
The plant is used in the folk medicine to treat indigestion, food poisoning, dysentery, diarrhea and intestinal diseases. The drug that prepared from it, is called by the Arabs of Israel 'halfa Berry'.
For treating of gastrointestinal problems:
Cook a handful of leaves, preferably dry, in a liter of water, about half an hour. The decoction comes out quite bitter. It is recommended to drink half a cup per day on an empty stomach.
The Hebrew name was given to the halfa grass due to its sharp and rough leaves, that are similar to the knife of the butcher, that is called in Hebrew 'halaf '. at old times people knew how to made mats from it, as writen in the mishna: " stalks mat and pure from halfa grass" (Tools 17, 17). They also named people and places like its name, that’s indicating that the plant was common in those days: " rabi Halafta from Chananiah village " (Avot 3, 6).