A great portion of the ground within the wall lines is not occupied by buildings, especially in the north-western quarter; and even in the more populous parts of the city, near the river, a considerable space between the houses is occupied by gardens, where pomegr a nates, figs, oranges, lemons and date-palms grow in great abundance, so that the city, when seen at a distance, has the appearance of rising out of the midst of trees.
Female date-palms only were cultivated, and wild ones were brought from the desert in order to fertilize them.
It is flat and well wooded with date palms and olive trees.
It is uncertain whether the conventional fleur-de-lis was originally meant to represent the lily or white iris - the flower-de-luce of Shakespeare - or an arrow-head, a spear-head, an amulet fastened on date-palms to ward off the evil eye, &c. In Roman and early Gothic architecture the fleur-de-lis is a frequent sculptured ornament.
There are some 6,000,000 date-palms in the country, 4,000,000 being in Upper Egypt.