Medieval Monday: Plants and Herbs (part 1)

Plants and Herbs

Allison D. Reid

gathering spinachIn the medieval world, just about anything you could forage, or anything you could grow, had a use…or many uses.  All kinds of plants, even things we would consider to be weeds, might be used for medicine, cooking, as strewing herbs to combat vermin and bad smells, or they might have sacred or magical uses.

Here are just a few examples of things we consider ordinary that the medieval people grew or gathered for extraordinary uses.

Almond:  Aside from the wide variety of culinary uses, the oil from almond seeds was used in mixtures against coughs. Almond was also used as a laxative and was thought to prevent intoxication.

Birch: The tree’s sap, and juice from its leaves, were used as a mouthwash and to dissolve kidney and bladder stones.  Tar from its wood was used to make ointments for skin disorders.  Birch tea was thought to relieve…

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