Category Archives: Voynich plants

Alain Touwaide on the Voynich – a review by René Zandbergen

I am grateful to René Zandbergen, whose authoritative site on the Voynich manuscript can be found here, for contributing the following review:

On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the acquisition by the Society of Jesus of Villa Mondragone, the Second University of Rome ‘Tor Vergata’ has published a new book about the Villa.
http://www.palombieditori.it/detail.php?book=1406&vetrina=venduti
The book, written in Italian, was presented to the world one month ago, on 25 February 2016.
Such a volume had to include an article about the Voynich MS, and we find it on pp.141-158, written by the well-known historian of medicine Alain Touwaide, with a few small illustrations. While he is author of many scholarly articles about …

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Herbal Research Seminar

I just thought I would advertise this event, as it is obvious interest to the Voynich. It is in London on 14th October (with apologies to those far away!)
Seminar on Trade, Discovery and Influences in the History of Herbal Medicine
Website: http://events.history.ac.uk/event/show/14243
Note that the deadline for registration is very soon – 14th September at 9am!
Details of the day:
Trade, Discovery and Influences in the History of Herbal Medicine
The aim of this day is to bring together researchers to explore issues related to trade and commerce of medicinal plants in the history of herbal medicine. Trade in medicinal plants has always been part of human culture. Historiography has tended to divide medicinal cultures into discrete traditions, …

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Voynich plant on f100r – broccoli?

Below is an email sent to me by Dr. Ramiro Gianinazzi, Switzerland. I thought it was interesting so he gave me permission to post it. It refers to this plant on f100r:
https://www.jasondavies.com/voynich/#f100r/0.355/0.558/4.00

Dr. Ramiro Gianinazzi writes as follows:
“In the folio 100 is illustrated a plant which looks like a vegetable of the “brassica oleracea” family (especially broccoli).
In Italy, what is named today “broccoli”, has been used for centuries, at least since the Roman Empire period. Boccoli is the result of a selection, made by human, known in Latin language as “brachium” or simply “brassica”.
In the late medieval period, broccoli was widely used in some geographical regions influenced by the Roman civilization (including eastern territories …

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Voynich plant 33r

Can you help us to identify this interesting plant, with two heads in the roots, and also decode the name? See below a picture from a 15th century Italian manuscript which also has two heads in the roots. The manuscript is described here.
A number of people have added suggestions on these pages. See below for discussion.
Step 1: Look at the Voynich plant picture above. Look also at the possible name of that plant from the same page.
Step 2:  Look at some other expert suggestions, below, for what this plant might be. Some are borrowed from here.
Step 3: If you have any good suggestions for the plant, please post a comment below. Give the Latin genus and species name if …

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Voynich plant 7r

Can you help us to identify this plant and also decode the name?
Step 1: Look at the Voynich plant picture above. Look also at the possible name of that plant from the same page.
Step 2:  Look at some other expert suggestions, below, for what this plant might be. Some are borrowed from here.
Step 3: If you have any good suggestions for the plant, please post a comment below. Give the Latin genus and species name if you can.
Step 4: Can you suggest a name in any language which might resemble the Voynich word? If so, post a comment below.
In particular can you suggest a name from any language which might fit the Voynich text?
Thanks

On factors distorting the plant images of the Voynich Manuscript

Contributed by Anonymous ‘Biologist, Finland’.  Many thanks to him for his insightful commentary and guidance.
Aims and limitations
This is an introductory text for people who aim to identify plant species illustrated in the Voynich Manuscript (VM, below).
The author of the present text is a Finnish Biologist who has spent some spare time with the VM illustrations. The present text is not meant to be a final scientific truth, nor is it exhaustive for all possible distortions. It merely aims to help the non-botanist student to avoid some basic misinterpretations. It is based on information availabe in March 2014. Our understanding on the contents of VM may change rapidly in case deciphering …

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Italian herbal – Veneto 15th century

See other interesting manuscripts here.
This  wonderful manuscript has 192 drawings of plants (Manuscript on paper. Veneto? Italy, S. XV). It is described as follows:
“This herbal was begun in the first half of the 15th century and continued for about half a century. It presents an interesting contrast between the early, conventional representation of plants and the naturalistic style, which was becoming common by the end of the century.
The roots are heavily emphasized and are often depicted as fantastic faces and creatures, e.g. the female mandragora (f. 36) and the woad plant (f. 42), which has a blue root with a human face.”
See page 33 r for an illustration of Folegar …

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Italian herbal manuscript – Vermont

I’ve started a new section on the website to list interesting mediaeval manuscripts.
This fascinating manuscript at the University of Vermont was brought to my attention by David Wiffler on this website, who said:
“There is a plant here:https://www.jasondavies.com/voynich/#f33r/0.966/0.479/1.70 that has two human heads attached to the root system. There is a similar thing in an old Italian herbal here: http://cdi.uvm.edu/collections/item/mrmc002&page=1&size= (you will have to go to the page and, using the box in the top right hand corner, jump to page 70).”

“This Italian herbal is the closest match I’ve seen for the Voynich m. If you put the two manuscripts side by side the similarity of the colours is quite remarkable, and the root systems …

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Voynich manuscript: the Mexican theory

A lot of people have recently asked me my opinion about the Voynich ‘New World’ theories, for example suggestions that it was written in Mexico in an Aztec language, because the plants look Mexican.
Such theories tend to date the production of the manuscript to the 1500’s, and explain the carbon dating (1400’s) by suggesting, for example, that the vellum was kept unused for decades.
Personally I prefer not to engage in speculation about authorship and dates until we have more evidence about the script and language, and in any case my linguistic analysis suggests a strong Near Eastern/Asian linguistic dimension. However, recently I came across a piece of information which might be of …

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Ricinus communis illustration

See a full discussion of this plant and picture here.
 Illumination, France, Robinet Testard (?), ca 1500. Illustration  of Palma Christ/Ricinus for Matthaeus Platearius, Le Livre des simples médecines. Fr. F. v. VI, 1. fol. 154 v, St. Petersburg, National Library