Voynich plant 1v

Can you help us to identify this plant and also decode the name?

ImageText
Click here to see the original page.
Possible name (first word): K ? S N

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.

E VoynichPetersonSherwoodVelinskaBiologist - Finland
Atropa, Atropa BelladonaSolanum, Solatrium, BelladonnaBelladonna, Deadly nightshadeSt. John's Wort (Hypericum) Atropa belladonna or Scopolia carniolica.
Scrophularia nodosa more far-fetched.
All are pharmacy plants with rhizomes.

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

25 Comments

  1. Scholler Jean-Marie

    The plant at page f 1v
    is arbutus alpinus in old latin
    now is called arctotaphylus alpina
    old german : berenklaw
    new german: Bärentraube
    the fact is that the painter has painted the roots as bear claw.
    and the leaves becomes in automne “red” compare to the other plant arbutus uva ursis which is always green.
    this plant was in the 15th century for kidneighs and urine problems
    the plant is rare and grows in altitude of 1500 to 2600 m

    kchsy chadaiin : beren klaw or bären trauben

    best regards JM SCHOLLER

  2. Yves Laflute

    F1v: the plant is erect, not belladonna. To draw belladonna in old style, author would also put in fruits and/or flowers emerging from side of stem. Book shows 1 fruit at tip of branch.

  3. Julie

    Second line third word in the text box at top of page.

  4. Julie

    It could be Orach also known as saltbush, the plants have red or green leaves. A word Which I have read as Orach appears in the text.

    • Derek Vogt

      Where in the text?

  5. Darren Worley

    I have an alternate idea on the attribution of this plant. It seems to fit quite well with the evidence, but it’s not something that’s been suggested before.

    I believe the first plant depicted in the VM on f1v could be the “Wild Olive” or rather, the “Wild Olive Tree”. I have found visual, textual and a literary link to support this attribution.

    Visually there is a close match – you can see a picture here:

    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-4kER2Z2aXiY/Tgf_EnWkgoI/AAAAAAAAEi0/38t-RxjUvYY/s1600/IMG_4862_2.jpg

    Some points of similarity include the olive and green shades for the upper and lower surfaces of the leaves and the near-spherical black fruits.

    This attribution could also explain the peculiar animal paws shapes that are depicted where the roots should be seen. A little Greek mythology helps explain:

    […] Heracles visited the court of King Thespius of Thespiae where he was asked to rid the land of a lion that had been terrorising Mount Cithaeron. […] Heracles killed the lion with a club of wild-olive.[Ref: Encyclopedia of Greco-Roman Mythology by Mike Dixon-Kennedy]

    I believe the animal paws may represent the lion slain by Heracles, the most famous of all the Greek heroes.

    It is also reputed that Heracles first introduced the wild olive to Greece [ref: The Oak and the Axe. p245 by Robin Nisbet]

    This attribution links in quite nicely with the second plant in the VM on f2r, which is the Diffuse Knapweed (Centauria Diffusa). This plant also has a Greek connection in that is named after the Centaur Chiron who was, co-incidentally, “killed” by Heracles.

    The centaurs fled and tried to take refuge in the cave of Chiron, but Heracles followed after them and the battle fought on.

    As the fighting progressed, Chiron was accidentally wounded by one of the toxic arrows. Because he was immortal, death could not rescue the wise centaur from his torment. Rather than leaving Chiron to suffer with pain for the rest of eternity, Zeus took pity on him and placed him among the stars as the constellation Centaurus.

    It’s possible that the killing of the Nemean lion (one of Heracles’ twelve labours) is being referred to here. In any case, Heracles is closely associated with both wild olives and lions.

    On the textual identification, the first word on f1v is EVA:kchsy (K/Z/S/N) or EVA:kchry (K/Z/R/N) which starts with the letter EVA:k which is also pronounced as “k”. It seems probable that this plant corresponds to a plant whose name also starts with “k” in Greek or Arabic.

    For example there are many other examples in the VM where the initial EVA:k corresponds to a Greek or Arabic plant name (or one derived from Greek or Arabic) that also begins with “k”. It seems plausible that this pattern may also be repeated here.

    Page: f2r
    Depicted Plant: Centaurea
    First Word: EVA:kydainy
    Bax pronunciation: KNT?IRN
    Greek name: kantauron
    Arabic name: kantauron
    Notes: Reference to Greek Centaur Chiron

    Page: f3v
    Depicted Plant: Hellebore
    First Word: EVA:koaiin
    Bax pronunciation: KA?UR
    Greek name: karpason
    Arabic name: kharbaq
    Notes: Derived from Arabic

    Page: f6v
    Depicted Plant: Castor Oil Plant
    First Word: EVA:koar y sar
    Bax pronunciation: KAWR
    Greek name: kiki
    Arabic name: khirva or kashak
    Notes: Derived from Arabic

    Page: f27r
    Depicted Plant: Crocus
    First Word: EVA:ksor
    Bax pronunciation: KSAR
    Greek name: krokos
    Arabic name: ?
    Notes: Derived via Indian kesar?

    Page: f31r
    Depicted Plant: Cotton
    First Word: EVA:keedey
    Bax pronunciation: KOOTON
    Greek name: ?
    Arabic name: Qutn, kutn, kutun, kuttan, kutunn
    Notes: From Arabic from Egyptian source

    Page: f41v
    Depicted Plant: Coriander
    First Word: EVA:keerodal
    Bax pronunciation: KOORATU
    Greek name: koriannon or korion
    Arabic name: kuzbara
    Notes: Ultimately derives from Greek

    The Greek word for “Wild Olive” (the fruit) is “kotinos” so this attribution fits this general pattern. Some difference may be due to the fact that this is the word for the fruit and possibly not the tree itself. I would however expect these words to be similar.

    There seems to be two main word-roots used for “wild olives” across the Near East and into Asia. These seem to be derived either from the Greek (kotinos) or from the Arabic (zaitun). This Greek influence is possibly seen in the word “kau” which is the word for olive used in Pakistan. Presumably this influence derives from the Greek-Macedonian expansion into this region by Alexander the Great in the 3rd-century BCE.

    The second word has been transcribed as EVA:chodaiin or EVA:chadaiin.

    Based on current pronunciation mappings: EVA:chodaiin -> Z/A/T/U/UR or EVA:chadaiin -> Z/U/T/U/UR

    This is similar to the Arabic word for olive, which is Zaitun, Zaytun or Zytun.

    Other related terms:

    Classical Arabic : al-zaytunah
    Modern Arabic : zaytun, zytun, qutm, qutum
    Turkish : zeytin
    Modern Mandaic: zaitan or zaita
    Hebrew: zayit (singular) or zetim, zeytim (olives or olive tree)
    Phoenician: zt (olive)
    Ugaritic: zt, pl. ztm (olive, olive tree, olive grove)
    Official Aramaic: zyt
    Syriac: zayta
    Georgian: zetis
    Kazakh: zäytun
    Kurdish: zaitun
    Farsi: zeitun

    [Ref: 2011 Malášková, Zuzana, & Blažek, Václav, and online dictionaries]

    A table of the various names for wild-olives in various cultures/languages is given here: Classification, Origin, Diffusion and History of the Olive edited by H. D. Tindall

    http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=yOiNU2e0uhoC&pg=PA71&dq=kotinos+olive&hl=en&sa=X&ei=X70yVJOQK4Kc7galkoHAAw&ved=0CEcQ6AEwBzgK#v=onepage&q=kotinos%20olive&f=false

    Previously, I thought this plant was St. John’s Wort, however, I believe this and the various other attributions are less likely. I think this attribution (wild olive) better explains the evidence and seems quite plausible. The olive is a very important plant in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cultures and is frequently used in religious rituals across many faiths, so its appearance first seems reasonable.

    It did occur to me that the second word may be related to the word Saturn, as one name for “Atropa Belladonna” is the Saturn Plant. (This plant is most often attributed to f1v). However, this doesn’t explain the lions’ paw features and it doesn’t fit with the first-word pattern. “Atropa Belladonna” in Greek is “atropos” and in Arabic its “bou qini”, “belaidour” or “zbib el-laidor”.

    If correct, I think this attribution is important for several reasons:

    1) It further demonstrates Greek influence in the VM. The first two plants have close links to Greek mythology. It also tells us that the depiction of the VM plants is partially symbolic rather than purely naturalistic.

    2) The fact that the first two plants reference Greek mythology, suggests that the ideas within VM text pre-dates its later copying in the 15th century (possibly in a different location to its underlying origin).

    3) It suggests that the VM “herbal” section may contain trees and shrubs, and not just smaller plants.

    4) As the “wild olive” is a common plant in the Near East/Asia it might be possible to find good word matches in other medieval manuscripts. For example, the wild olive is referenced often in the Bible, so it might be possible to find similar word matches in old biblical manuscripts (in languages like Arabic, Syriac, Hebrew, Aramaic etc.). The olive appears in the story of Noah, for instance.

    I previously suggested the likelihood of Greek influence in my short paper on “Mandaean influence in the VM”, and this attribution seems consistent with that finding.

    The Greek connection may also give some clues to the possible origins and influences upon the VM alphabet and script. Medieval Greek contained a large number of ligatures, as has been suggested in the VM.

    • Darren Worley

      I found another archaic Arabic term for the wild olive: “kamleon”. This again fits the general pattern that where the first word begins with EVA:k this seems to corresponds with a plant that also beings with K in Arabic or Greek.

      The source of this was “THE BOOK OF MEDICINES VOLUME II” translated by E. A. WALLIS BUDGE (1913). This is believed to be a 2nd-3rd century (Alexandrian?) manuscript that was probably copied into Arabic in the 12th century.

      The appendix of this book gives a long list of archaic terms for plants and medicines in Arabic. The book also contains long sections on medicines, astrology and divination, animals and plants.

    • Derek Vogt

      On the textual identification, the first word on f1v is EVA:kchsy… which starts with the letter EVA:k which is also pronounced as “k”. It seems probable that this plant corresponds to a plant whose name also starts with “k” in Greek or Arabic…

      The Greek word for “Wild Olive” (the fruit) is “kotinos” so this attribution fits this general pattern. Some difference may be due to the fact that this is the word for the fruit and possibly not the tree itself. I would however expect these words to be similar.

      I get ^kh$n^ for that word, which comes even closer to the Greek root “kotin-” because ^$^ is about as close to /t/ as it is to /s/.

      The only Greek names I see for the tree species (not the fruit) here are things like “elia” and “elaia”, but I don’t think that’s an issue, because having a plant species and its fruit go by two separate names in the same language is so rare that it has to be an unstable situation, in which case only one of the two would be expected to survive the crossing to another language anyway.

      I was just about to add this to my list of identified plants based on your post and my transliteration, and come back here to post that I had done so, when I noticed in the process that the page was already in the list! Someone else had already suggested based on the picture that the plant was a member of the genus Solanum, and I had observed that the first word of the second paragraph, ^bagan^, was a very good match for a pile of names in there, particularly for Solanum melongena (a common species of eggplant). However, this identification tells us nothing about the paws, and comes up only in the second paragraph, not the first.

      My new theory is that the drawing is meant to depict the wild-olive and the page is primarily about that, but the author connects the two in some way and brings up the eggplant just to talk about that connection, even if the connection is only that some people could get them mixed up and need to be told the difference.

      • Darren Worley

        Thanks for the update, Derek.

        It could be a co-incidence, but the reason that I re-analyzed the attribution of this plant, is because in the only secular Mandaean text (which is about plants) the olive appears to be the most important; it appears as both as the first and last entry. (Similarly, in the Mandaic alphabet the first and last letters are the same, to signify its importance).

        Plants hold special significant to several Gnostic groups, but to the Mandaeans, plants have symbolic importance as “Children of the Tree-Of-Life”. To the Mandaeans, fertility and children are especially important. (Perhaps this is why so much of the VM is dedicated to plant depictions?).

        The fact that both the first and second plants in the VM have connections with Heracles, may also have some symbolic relevance to the Mandaeans. They consider their founder to be “Bihram the Great” who is also identified with Heracles. [ref: The Mandaeans (The Last Gnostics) by Lupieri p.63]

        • Johannes Klein

          Sorry to interrupt here, but almost none of The plants in the VM has been undoubtly identified. And olive for 1v and nymphaea for are by no means convincing ids.

  6. Mikilee

    Hi and the plant on the pic it’s looks like a ground nut plant . I’m just guessing by seeing the root

    Thank u

  7. Mikilee

    Hi, it looks like Nepal and Tibet wording and I can see there half daylight half in daylight and in a round thing it looks like the Chinese Ying yang something like a thing call ba gua.

    Thank u

  8. Darren

    I believe f1v is St.John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) – my initial identification was based on seeing a real plant growing in a herb garden.

    This lead me to try out some analysis on the text –

    The 2nd and 3rd words on the first line spell out –

    EVA: chadaiin.ol

    and if the sound-mappings are applied

    BAX: KH/U/NT/U/UR.AN

    This is the only occurrence of these words in the VM transcription.

    In many languages St. John’s Wort is known as kantaron/kantaryon, or similar.

    eg:

    Turkish = sarı kantaron (sarı means yellow)
    Serbian = Kantarijon

    Maybe the first word on the line spells out the colour yellow?

    Interestingly, this plant is named for St. John’s Day. The feast day is 24th June, St. John’s Eve, which ties in with the pagan Midsummers Day. Its an important Christian festival day in some European countries. It marks St. Johns’ birth which
    occurred 6 months before Jesus’.

    I wonder if this Christian association explains why it appears as the first plant in the book?

    I wonder if the ordering of plants in the VM significant? Most (all?) plants in the first folio start with the letter K. Maybe this is the result of the book being re-bound? Or perhaps the VM is actually the second-volume in a multi-volume work?

    • Darren Worley

      I happened to notice that the Greek for St. John’s Wort is koris or khoris [ref: Medicinal plants for the treatment of urogenital tract pathologies according to Dioscorides’ De Materia Medica. (1997)]

      This seems to yield a possible fit, for the first word on the page, using the Bax mapping.

      EVA:kchsy -> K?SN

      Perhaps the first word and 2nd/3rd are both describing St. John’s Wort. The first is possibly Greek, and the second/third is in Turkish(?) or a related language.

    • Darren Worley

      One of the unusual aspects about the plant depicted on f1v is its strange lion’s paw-type roots.

      I previously suggested this might have some connection with Herakles (Hercules), as Herakles is often associated with the slaying of the Nemean lion. However, this was in connection with a suggested attribution of the wild-olive.

      Therefore, I was curious how this lion’s paw feature might be explained in connection with an attribution of St. John’s Wort (hypericum perforatum) or Kantarion (in Turkish and other languages)

      According to this Turkish herbal plants’ website in describing the properties of St. John Wort says “it was rumored to have improved the boil at the foot of Heracles”.

      Diocorides also mentions that “the Magi call it blood of Hercules” in describing “Kantarion Makron” and “Kantarion Mikron”, although I understand these are different plant species to Kantarion (St. John Wort). I’m not sure the ancients made this distinction however.

  9. Cruz

    Dude this reeks of gypsy language. Have you ever seen gypsy language written. Hell no. This is a prime example of lots of languages. words are also the same except for one letter. Repetition is also a sign of witchcraft. the women in the water four up three down. It is a spell or incantation. or whatever the recipe does according to the ingredients. Probably all of the above. I thought about writing the gypsy language into english form. well we will see someday.

    • Stephen Bax

      Thanks – in fact others have suggested Romani as well, and I think it is not at all impossible. Of course, what we need is to work on it and see whether it fits – and of course Romani had many different dialects over the centuries as well.

      Thanks.

  10. jj

    Maybe an olive tree?. They have the light and dark coloured leaves and a big dark berry.

    • this is my mind too… Olive or perhaps “Rosam”…

  11. There’s a Kalanchoe (orgyalis) that this drawing reminded me of.

    http://fingoen.blogjardin.com/media/01/00/971086721.jpg

  12. The root resembles a bear’s paw (wise of bird of prey). So I wonder if the plant is called Bearclaw. Or is a species of hawkweed? This can only be determined if you find another medieval drawing with the same root.

    • Lycopodium from Greek lukos, wolf and podion, diminutive of pous, foot. The drawing is pure fantasy.

      • The top of the plant is a symbolic representation of Atropa belladonna. But this is not linked with the text.
        They do not known Lycopodium in monastery gardens because it lives in symbiosis with a fungus found only in the forest.

  13. R

    This may be obvious to anyone actually seriously and/or professionally into this, but since it hasn’t been said yet, I’ll just say it:

    The thing that struck me about the leaves having different colours is that those are probably top/botton (or front/back ventral/dorsal, however you’d like to call it) sides of the same leaves. Since the sun-facing side of leaves would normally be the one that has more chlorophyll closer to its surface, I’d say we might be looking for a plant with leaves that are green on their top and lighter/paler, beige or yellow on their bottom side.

    The other option might be that the different colours represent how the leaves look in different seasons, but I think that’s probably a stretch.

Leave Your Comment

Your email will not be published or shared. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

*