Magical, Mystical and Medicinal


The majority of the ilustrations in this exhibition come from the collections of the library of the Real Jardín Botánico (RJB-CSIC) of Madrid, Spain. The digitised book collection encompasses all aspects of botany and related subjects, including horticulture, ecology, natural history, taxonomy, forestry and more.

The collection primarily presents content dating from the invention of the printing press (in the middle of the 15th century CE) up to the beginning of the XXth century. It is mainly focused on the Iberian Peninsula, Balearic Islands, Macaronesia, North Africa, the Mediterranean region and Latin America.

This exhibition was created as part of the CEF-project Linking Biodiversity and Culture Information (LinBi)

Project partners:

Exhibition created by:

Félix Alonso (RJB-CSIC)
María del Carmen Peña-Chocarro (RJB-CSIC)

María del Carmen Peña-Chocarro (RJB-CSIC)
Martin Gordon (RBB)

Małgorzata Szynkielewska (Europeana Foundation)

Primary Sources:

XV century:

  • Macer Floridus (Odo de Meung) (1495) ’De viribus herbar[um] famosissimus medicus et medicor[um] Speculum’

XVI century:

  • Cuba. J. (1511) ’Ortus sanitatis’
  • Lóbel, M. (1576) ’Plantarum seu stirpium historia’
  • Acosta, C. (1578) ’Tratado Delas drogas, y medicinas de las Indias Orientales’
  • Monardes, N. (1580) ’Primera y segvnda y tercera partes dela Historia’ Medicinal: delas cosas que se traen de nuestras Indias Occidentales, que siruen en Medicina’

XVII century:

  • Besler, B. (1613) ’Hortus Eystettensis’
  • Dioscorides, P. (1651) ’A cerca de la materia medicinal, y de los venenos mortiferos’ (Translated, illustrated and annotated by Dr. A. Laguna)
  • Rheede tot Draakestein, H. & Casearius, J. (1690) ’Horti Malabarici’

XVIII century:

  • Weinmann, J.W. (1738-1742) ’Phytanthoza-iconographia’
  • Blackwell, E. (1760) ’Herbarivm Blackwellianvm’
  • Störck, A. (1762) ’Libellus, quo demonstratur: Stramonium, Hyosciamum, Aconitum’
  • Bulliard, P. (1783-1786) ’Herbier de la France’

XIX century:

  • Martín de Argenta y Teixidor, V. (1864) ’Album de la flora médico-farmacéutica é industrial, indígena y exótica’

Further Reading:

  • Dauncey, E.A. & Larsson, S. (2018) Plants That Kill. Kew Publishing, Royal Botanical Gardens Kew, U.K.
  • Dauncey, E.A. & Howes, M.R. (2020) Plants That Cure. Kew Publishing, Royal Botanical Gardens Kew, U.K.
  • Schults, R.E., & Hofmann, A. & Rätsch, C. (2001). Plants of the Gods: Their Sacred, Healing, and Hallucinogenic Powers. Healing Arts Press, Rochester, Vermont, U.S.A.
  • Rätsch, C. & Hofmann, A. (2005) The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and Its Applications. Park Street Press, Vermont, U.S.A.
  • Simpson, B.B. & Conner-Ogorzaly, M. (1995) Economic Botany: Plants in Our World. McGraw-Hill.

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