UMass Amherst
John Gerard

The herball, or General historie of plantes. Gathered by John Gerarde ... Very much enlarged and amended by Thomas Johnson
London, Printed by A. Islip, J. Norton and R. Whitakers, 1636.

19 p. l., 1630 p., 1 l., [46] p. illus. 36 cm.

Call no: QK41.G3 1636+

Arguably the best known of all English herbals, the Herball, or General historie of plantes of John Gerard (1545-1612) is in many ways characteristic of the genre, seeing further, as the adage goes, by standing of the shoulders of its predecessors. Gerard's work was based in part upon a translation of Rembert Dodoens final book, the Pemptades (1583), and many of Gerard's illustrations were printed from blocks purchased from Jacobus Theodorus' noted Eicones plantarum. Not a scholar, per se, Gerard was a barber-surgeon employed as gardener to William Cecil, Lord Burghley, and he is criticized both for lacking the botanical acumen even to pair his illustrations with the text describing them, and for accepting accounts of plants such as the "Goose tree" or "Barnakle tree" uncritically.

First published in 1597, the work was greatly improved in subsequent editions. The SCUA copy of Gerard's Herball is the "very much enlarged and amended" second printing (1636) of Thomas Johnson's 1633 second edition. Not merely content with reprising what was already a famous work, Johnson added additional taxa (for a total of 2,850), wrote a long historical introduction, corrected the most glaring errors committed by Gerard, and improved the illustrations, producing a work that is considered superior to the original. This edition includes a wealth of plants from the New World and East Indies, including the potato, mango, banana, and cacti, and was used as a botanical text for over a century.

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Spanish goat's marjoram Spanish goats marjoram

greater towers mustard Greater towers mustard