Silphium (also known as laser) was an uncultivated plant that grew in Cyrene, North Africa (modern Shahhat, Libya) and became the cash crop of the region of Cyrenaica between c. 631 BCE and the 1st century CE when, according to Pliny the Elder, it had become extinct. Its disappearance is considered the first recorded species extinction in history.

More about: Silphium


  • c. 631 BCE - c. 79 CE
    Silphium is the major cash crop of the city of Cyrene and surrounding Cyrenaica in North Africa.
  • 276 BCE - 250 BCE
    Magas rules as king of Cyrene; silphium plant is featured prominently on currency.
  • c. 96 BCE - c. 79 CE
    Silphium is harvested and overgrazed to extinction.