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Botanical print label text

Veit Rudolph Speckle, after Heinrich Füllmauer and Albert Meyer
German, active 16th century
Siser Sylvestre
1547
Woodcut, hand colored
From De Historia Stirpium by Leonhart Fuchs (Basel, 1547)
Museum purchase, funds provided by Kirk Henckels
2010.59.4

 Leonhart Fuchs closely supervised the illustrators who worked on De Historia Stirpium. Heinrich Füllmauer and Albert Meyer drew the plants while Veit Rudolph Speckle carved their designs into the wood blocks. This illustration depicts Siser Sylvestre, a wild parsnip, which is today known as Pastinaca sativa. Nicholas Culpeper (1616-1654), an English botanist and physician, found the wild parsnip to be highly nourishing. In The Complete Herbal (1653), he writes that the wild parsnip has a “cutting, attenuating, cleansing and opening quality,” that it eases “the pains and stitches in the sides and expels the wind from the stomach and bowels, or colic.”

 

Veit Rudolph Speckle, after Heinrich Füllmauer and Albert Meyer
German, active 16th century
Periclymenus
1547
Woodcut, hand colored
From De Historia Stirpium by Leonhart Fuchs (Basel, 1547)
Museum purchase, funds provided by Edith McBean, with additional funds provided by Gladys Harn Harris Art Acquisition Endowment
2010.33

This woodcut represents a commitment to accurate description as well as an interest in creating an overall pleasing design. The plant is pictured in its flowering form and fills the page in a series of sweeping motions as several stems are softly entwined. Periclymenus may possibly refer to Lonicera periclymenum L. or Lonicera caprifolium L. which is poisonous in large doses. In smaller doses, it is used as an expectorant, laxative, antispasmodic, astringent, diuretic, expectorant, febrifuge and sudorific. In the accompanying text, Fuchs described its natural habitat and pointed out its popularity in gardens.

 

Veit Rudolph Speckle, after Heinrich Füllmauer and Albert Meyer
German, active 16th century
Petroselinum
1547
Woodcut, hand colored
From De Historia Stirpium by Leonhart Fuchs (Basel, 1547)
Museum purchase, funds provided by Peter DeSorcy
2011.9.17

 First published in Latin in 1542, this later edition of De Historia Stirpium was intended for a German audience. Each illustration includes the German translation alongside the Latin plant name. Petroselinum refers to one of two species of parsley that can have uterotonic and anti-inflammatory effects and boost the immune system. In folk tradition, parsley has been used to promote menstruation and facilitate childbirth. Its emmenagogic properties can bring on delayed menstruation. Parsley juice also inhibits the secretion of histamine and is therefore useful in treating hives and relieving other allergy symptoms. In the accompanying text, Fuchs writes that Petroselinum is “not spontaneous in Germany, but must be planted in gardens.”

 

Veit Rudolph Speckle, after Heinrich Füllmauer and Albert Meyer
German, active 16th century
Avellana Nux Sylvestris
1547
Woodcut, hand colored
From De Historia Stirpium by Leonhart Fuchs (Basel, 1547)
Museum purchase, funds provided by James H. Hecht, with additional funds provided by Gladys Harn Harris Art Acquisition Endowment
2010.65

Avellana nux sylvestris is now known as Corylus avellana L., or hazelnut. It was used as an antihelminthic, astringent, diaphoretic, febrifuge, nutritive, stomachic and tonic. Many parts of the plant were used—including the oil, bark, seed, leaves, and catkins—in the preparation of medicinal treatments. This illustration is a composite image and shows the same plant flowering and fruiting simultaneously. In order to provide more information while saving space, it was sometimes common for artists to show variations in coloring or seasonal characteristics that would not ordinarily occur at the same time in nature.

 

Basilius Besler
German, 1561-1629
Cataputia Vulgaris
1613
Copperplate engraving, hand colored
From Hortus Eystettensis (Eichstätt, 1613)
Museum purchase, funds provided by Jeff Siegal
2010.34.3

Hortus Eystettensis was published in two versions, a black and white edition intended as a reference work and a luxury hand-colored edition for wealthy collectors. This plate from the deluxe edition depicts three plants. The larger plant in the center is identified in the Latin caption as Cataputia Vulgaris, today known as Large Mediterranean Spurge or Euphorbia characias L. This plant has been used traditionally as an emetic, antihelmenthic, vasodilator and purge. Members of the plant family have been used worldwide to treat skin conditions (plants have acrid, milky sap) and have been used to treat skin cancers and warts. Modern research indicates the plant may have antitussive, antifungal, and antitumor properties, while it does have the capacity to induce vomiting and can be poisonous when taken in inappropriate doses.

 

Basilius Besler
German, 1561-1629
Bugloflum Semper Virens
1613
Copperplate engraving, hand colored
From Hortus Eystettensis (Eichstätt, 1613)
Museum purchase, funds provided by Peter DeSorcy
2010.29.4

 Besler worked for sixteen years on his illustrations of plants from Bishop Conrad von Gemmingen’s garden. This was the most important botanical garden outside of Italy and featured plants from as far away as Spain, Turkey and the Americas. Nearly every week, the bishop shipped one or two boxes of fresh cut flowers to Besler in Nuremberg so he could make drawings from actual specimens. This plate depicts three varieties of Bugloflum. The variety in the center, Bugloflum Semper Virens, is now known as Pentaglotitis sempervirens L., or evergreen bugloss. It has been used as a blood purifier to rid the body of toxins, to relieve cough and cause sweating, as well as an antidepressant and to treat skin irritations.

 

Basilius Besler
German, 1561-1629
Papauer Corniculatum Luteum
1613
Copperplate engraving, hand colored
From Hortus Eystettensis (Eichstätt, 1613)
Museum purchase, funds provided by Peter DeSorcy, with additional funds provided by Gladys Harn Harris Art Acquisition Endowment
2010.30

 Symmetry and balance are essential components in the arrangement of the plants on each page of Belser’s Hortus Eystettensis where specimens conform to a rhythmic display of stems, leaves and roots. Each plant is usually depicted life-size yet when a plant is too tall to fit on the page, Besler simply cut off part of the stem as in the large plant in the center of this plate. The caption identifies this central plant as Papauer Corniculatum Luteum. This is probably the same as a plant known today as Glaucium corniculatum L. which causes delirium and hallucinations. Plants in the poppy family, or Papaveraceae, are known as the source of opium and opiates.

 

Basilius Besler
German, 1561-1629
Acantium Sylvestri
1613
Copperplate engraving, hand colored
From Hortus Eystettensis (Eichstätt, 1613)
Museum purchase, funds provided by Jeff Siegal
2010.34.2 

Besler’s drawings were engraved by a team of at least ten engravers. Yet many of their names are lost today since few signed their work. Acantium Sylvestri, which appears on the left half of this plate, is a member of the thistle family. It is possibly the same as Onopordon acantium L., also called cardo borriguero or Scotch thistle. It was used traditionally as a blood cleanser, to treat jaundice and clear obstructions of the liver and spleen, treat agues, catarrh and plague. It was considered a tonic, stimulant, diaphoretic, emetic and emmenagogue. It also was used to treat skin lesions and ulcers and in the treatment of cancerous lesions. Today, it is used to stimulate the heart, although there is insufficient evidence to consider it an effective treatment for heart conditions.

 
Johann Michael Seligmann, after unknown artist
German, 1702-1762
Auricula Ursi II
1768
Copperplate engraving, hand colored
From Hortus Nitidissimis, by Christoph Jakob Trew and Georg Dionysius Ehret (Nuremberg, 1768)
Museum purchase, funds provided by Lawrence Reed Miller
2010.11.8

The physician and amateur botanist Christoph Jacob Trew coordinated the publication of Hortus Nitidissimis, a multi-volume work on garden plants. Drawings for the 188 engraved plates were provided by at least seven artists, the principal artist being George Dionysius Ehret. These were engraved by Johann Michael Seligmann and A.L. Wirsing. This plate from the first volume depicts Auricula ursi which means “bear’s ear” in reference to the shape of its leaves. Today, this plant which is common in Europe is called Primula auricula L. Its traits include colorful fragrant flowers and waxy leaves that were used traditionally to treat coughs.

 A.L. Wirsing, after Johann Christoph Keller
German, 1734-1797, and German, 1737-1796
Corona Imperialis III
1768
Copperplate engraving, hand colored
From Hortus Nitidissimis, by Christoph Jakob Trew and Georg Dionysius Ehret (Nuremberg, 1768)
Museum purchase, funds provided by Lawrence Reed Miller
2010.11.10 

This plate illustrates the Corona imperialis, or imperial crown, which is today known as Fritillaria imperialis L. Its name derives from the Latin fritillus, or dicebox, in reference to the checkered pattern of many of the flowers in this species. The bulb of this flowering plant can be a cardiac poison. Yet, in lesser amounts, it was thought to increase production of breast milk and to be useful as an expectorant, diuretic, emollient and resolvent. This plate includes two details showing the flower’s anatomy, especially the stem, petals and stamen. The accompanying text states that “Its origin is Persia and in 1570 it first came to Constantinople after which it became known throughout the whole of Europe” (volume 1, chapter 20, p. 231).

 

Johann Michael Seligmann, after Georg Dionysius Ehret
German, 1702-1762, and German, 1708-1770
Caryophyllus III & IV
1768
Copperplate engraving, hand colored
From Hortus Nitidissimis, by Christoph Jakob Trew and Georg Dionysius Ehret (Nuremberg, 1768)
Museum purchase, funds provided by Lawrence Reed Miller
2010.11.6 

This plate illustrates the Caryophyllus, a member of the carnation family, and probably refers to the species known as Dianthus caryophyllus L. Here, two stems of carnations appear side by side in perfect symmetry. The presence of a butterfly or moth is a curious addition since there is no explanation in the accompanying text. However, this pairing of flowers and butterflies was a favorite theme of Ehret as evident in his Plantae et Papiliones Rariores, or “Rare Plants and Butterflies” (1759). Carnation flowers are an aromatic stimulant and have been used in tonic cordials to treat fevers. They also have been used as an antispasmodic and diaphoretic and to treat cardiac and nervous system issues.

 

Johann Michael Seligmann, after unknown artist German, 1702-1762 
Pancratium I
1768
Copperplate engraving, hand colored
From Hortus Nitidissimis, by Christoph Jakob Trew and Georg Dionysius Ehret (Nuremberg, 1768)
Museum purchase, funds provided by Lawrence Reed Miller
2010.11.7

Pancratium is a genus of about 21 species of perennial bulbous plants in the family Amaryllidaceae. This specimen is probably in the genus Narcissus (true daffodils). Plants in this family can be poisonous but have been used to treat cancer. The accompanying text for this plate identifies the plant as “The sea lily from Illyria, commonly called the third daffodil of Matthiolus” (volume I, chapter 16, page 195). In this illustration, one large flowering plant emerges from the soil and is secured to a long red stake topped with a decorative finial. An enormous bulb seems to float in an ambiguous space to the right of the plant.

Elizabeth Blackwell
Scottish, 1707-1758
Navelwort
1739
Engraving, hand colored
From A Curious Herbal (London, 1739)
Museum purchase, funds provided by Brent Brown
2012.20.1 

Elizabeth Blackwell published A Curious Herbal in order to address the need for an up-to-date reference for apothecaries including species recently discovered in the Americas. With its 500 illustrations, this was an ambitious and unprecedented enterprise for a woman of her time. Although she wasn’t a professional artist, Blackwell had received training in drawing and painting, as was common among well-to-do young women. This plate illustrates Navelwort, or Umbilicus rupestris, which was used as a diuretic, to ease the pain of kidney stones, to treat scrofula and chilblains, and to reduce inflammation. In order to maximize the usefulness of her book, Blackwell also included details of the flower, calix, seed vessel, pod and seed—each one carefully labeled at the bottom of the plate.

 

Elizabeth Blackwell
Scottish, 1707-1758
Avens or Herb Bennet
1739
Engraving, hand colored
From A Curious Herbal (London, 1739)
Museum purchase, funds provided by Peter DeSorcy
2011.11.2 

This plate depicts Avens or Herb Bennet, known today as Geum urbanum L. It was believed to be effective for treating poison and dog bites, liver disease, catarrh and stomach upsets. More recently, it has been used to treat diarrhea, heart disease, halitosis and ulcers of the mouth. The accompanying text also claims the roots are “cordial and cheering to ye Spirits, when infused in Wine” (volume 2). Blackwell’s illustration includes two specimens, one that has been cut at the stem, and the other which is still connected to a large root full of offshoots. She also shows flowers in various stages of bloom as well as details of a flower, seed vessel and seed.

 

Elizabeth Blackwell
Scottish, 1707-1758
The Lesser Burdock
1739
Engraving, hand colored
From A Curious Herbal (London, 1739)
Museum purchase, funds provided by Jackson B. Gilbert and Maria Gilbert
2011.61.2

Blackwell’s detailed illustrations were based on her drawings of live specimens in London’s Chelsea Physic Garden, founded in 1673 to promote the study of botany in relation to medicine, then known as the “physic” or healing arts. She then brought her drawings to her husband who was in debtor’s prison for failure to pay fines related to his unlicensed printing venture. A trained physician, he used his medical knowledge to write the accompanying text explaining the plants’ medicinal preparations. In this plate, Blackwell illustrates the The Lesser Burdock, also called Arctium minus. This plant was believed to have many medicinal purposes. For example, it was used as an alterative, antibacterial, antifungal, antidote, antirheumatic, aperient, carminative, cholagogue, diaphoretic, diuretic, antipyretic, demulcent and tonic. The accompanying text also states that it was useful in the treatment of leprosy.  

Elizabeth Blackwell
Scottish, 1707-1758
Jew’s Ears
1739
Engraving, hand colored
From A Curious Herbal (London, 1739)
Museum purchase, funds provided by Brent Brown
2012.20.2

Jew’s Ears, also known as Auricularia auricular-judae, was used as an astringent, to treat sore throat or eyes, and to heal jaundice. It is a species of edible fungus that grows on wood, especially elder. Its curious name is derived from the belief that Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’ twelve apostles, hanged himself from an elder tree. The common name “Judas’ ear” eventually became “Jew’s ear.” It was used in folk medicine as recently as the 19th century. Today, the fungus is a popular ingredient in many Chinese dishes, such as hot and sour soup, and is also used in Chinese medicine. This illustration faithfully reflects Blackwell’s text describing the fungus as “wrinkled & turn’d up like an Ear, and is whitish on the outside & black within, with several little Veins.”