Medieval Plants

This is a column dedicated to researching various plants used in the Middle Ages as based off of a list of plant beds from the Bonnefont Herb Garden at the Cloisters Museum in New York City.  Scroll to the bottom of this page for my sources.

Links will be added to the plant names as the pages go live.


Magic Bed - listing the plants that will be researched for this segment of the column (reproduced in part below).  I'm trying to do them all, but the posts are time consuming and some plants are easier to research than others, so I may skip a few.

Achillea millefolium                                Common yarrow
Aconitum napellus                                  Aconite
Alchemilla vulgaris                                 Lady’s mantle
Arum italicum                                         Italian arum (I've skipped this one as there is very little information on this particular breed of arum.  I will instead do one of the other breeds that comes later in the list.)
Atropa belladonna                                   Deadly nightshade
Bryonia dioica                                         Bryony
Carlina vulgaris                                       Carline thistle
Catananche caerulea                                Cupid's dart
Chrysanthemum coronarium                   Crown disy
Datury metel                                            Horn of plenty, Downy thorn apple
Doronicum pardalianches                        Great leopard's bane
Dracunculus vulgaris                               Dragon arum
Foeniculum vulgare                                 Fennel
Geum urbanum                                        Herb Bennet  
Glechoma hederacea                                Ground ivy
Hypericum perforatum                             St. John's wort
Leonurus cardiaca                                    Motherwort

I will add new sources as I discover them.

Primary Sources:

Albertus Magnus. The Book of Secrets of Albertus Magnus of the Virtues of Herbs, Stones and Certain Beasts also a Book of the Marvels of the World. Edited by Michael Best and Frank Brightman. London: Oxford University Press, 1973.

Hildegard von Bingen. Physica: The Complete English Translation of her Classic Work on Health and Healing. Trans. Priscilla Throop. Rochester: Healing Arts Press, 2011. 

Isidore of Seville. Etymologies. Trans. Stephen Barney, W. J. Lewis, J. A. Beach, and Oliver Berghof. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

Pliny. Natural History v. 1-6. Trans. John Bostock and H. T. Riley. London: Henry Bohn, 1851.

Secondary Sources (book):

Bayard, Tania. Sweet Herbs and Sundry Flowers: Medieval Gardens and the Gardens of the Cloisters. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1985.

Ferguson, George. Signs and Symbols in Christian Art. Oxford: University of Oxford Press, 1961.

Fisher, Celia. The Medieval Flower Book. London: The British Library, 2013.

Freeman, Margaret. Herbs for the Mediaeval Household for Cooking, Healing and Divers Uses. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1943. 

Kowalchick, Claire and William Hylton, Ed. Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs. Pennsylvania: Rodale Press, 1998.

Landsberg, Sylvia. The Medieval Garden. New York: Thames and Hudson, 2003.

Lehner, Ernst and Johanna Lehner. Folklore and Symbolism of Flowers, Plants and Trees. New York: Dover Publications, 2003

Newdick, Jane. The Magic of Herbs. London: Salamander Books, 1991.


No comments: