Monday, 15 February 2010
Gerard's Herbal - Of the Historie of Plants
In 1597 John Gerard, the Elizabethan physician who superintended the gardens of Lord Burleigh in the Strand, first published Of the Historie of Plants. The first edition is seldom quoted, for the enlarged second edition, by Thomas Johnson, of 1633 was far better (there was over 1000 corrections made to the first edition). It was due to Johnson that the Herbal continued for a long time to be the standard work for English students.*
This is the entry for dandelion:
"The hearbe which is commonly called Dandelion doth send forth from the root long leaves deeply cut and gashed in the edges like those of wild Succorie, but smoother: upon every stalke standeth a floure greater than that of Succorie, but double & thicke set together, of colour yellow, and sweet in smell, which is turned into a round downy blowbal that is carried away with the wind. The root is long, slender, and full of milky juice, when any part is broken, as is the Endive or Succorie, but bitterer in tast than Succorie.
They are found often in meadowes, neere unto water ditches, as also in gardens and high wayes much troden.
They floure most times in the yeare, especially if the winter not be extreme cold."
*I've used information written by Marcus Woodward in 1927 from the introduction to my copy of Gerard's Herbal.
I dissected the flower head of a dandelion and the drawing above is of the individual parts. The original drawing is A2 size.