plant genus, 1771, from Latin, from Greek Silphion, name of a North African Mediterranean plant whose identity has been lost, the gum or juice of which was prized by the ancients as a condiment and a medicine. Probably of African origin.
Examples from the Web for silphium
When, in 658, Cyrenaica was incorporated with the Roman Republic, the province paid an annual tribute in silphium.
Assafœtida, the resinous matter of the silphium, is used largely by the Greeks in the preparation of their food.
Within the mountains, on the high plateau, assafoetida (silphium) was found, and probably some other medicinal herbs.
The most important object of commerce of the Cyrenaica was the silphium, a plant the root of which sold for its weight in silver.
There are more than twenty species of rosin-weed or silphium, all probably similar in their medicinal virtues.The Treatment of Hay Fever|George Frederick Laidlaw