Gerard's Herbal

Glossary of Latin descriptive words in plant names.

            Gerard and Johnson wrote before Linnaeus' binomial system, but the standard way of naming plants in their day was (name of plant in Latin) + (descriptive words, often several of them.) For example in Chap 6. of Book 2,  Rapistrum flore albo erucæ foliis means Rapistrum (Radish) with white flowers, and leaves like Eruca (Rocket). This glossary gives the meanings of the descriptive words.

            Names of other plants (as Rocket in the example above) are not shown.

            Note that the endings of many of these words change to agree with the gender or case of the preceding word; for example, albus, alba, album, albo all mean white.

 

Abortiva

Premature

Acetabulum

Of the hip-socket

Acetosa

Sour-tasting

Aculeis

Stinging

Acutum

Sharp

Adulterina

False

Ægyptius

Of Egypt

Agrestis

Of the fields or countryside

Alba

White

Albida

Whitish

Alopecuri

Of foxes

Alpinum

Of the Alps

Alterum

Other

Altissimus

Highest

Amarum

Bitter

Ambarvalis

Relating to the ceremony of Rogation, a Church procession and service celebrated during the three days before Ascension Thursday. This is forty days after Easter, and so falls in May or early June.

Amoris

Of love

Amygdaloides

Almond-like

Anglica, anglicana , anglorum

Of England

Anglorum

Of the English

Angustifolia

Narrow-leaved

Aquaticus

Of water

Arborescens

Tree-like

Arvensis

Of the fields

Asper

Rough

Asperior

Rougher

Atropurpurascens

Blackish purple

Atticus

Of Attica, the area around Athens in Greece

Aurea

Golden

Auriculae

Ears

Austriacus

Of Austria

Aut

Or

Aut potius

Or rather

Bætica

Of Boetia, an area of Greece

Barbarum

Of Barbary, strictly North Africa west of Egypt, but often used in a more general sense to mean any Arab country

Belgarum

Of the Belgians

Biflorum

Two-flowered or twice-flowering

Botryodes

Like a bunch of grapes

Bubonium

Of buboes, which are swellings of inflamed lymph glands in the groin

Bulbosa

Bulbous in shape or having bulbs

Bursa

A purse

Caeli

Of the sky

Cærulea

Blue

Calicuthium

Of Calicut, a city in India, also called Kozhikode

Campestris

Of the fields

Caninum

Of dogs

Cantabrica

Of Cambridge

Capitata

Headed

Cardamantica

Like Cress

Centunculi

A patchwork of different colours

Ceratites

Horned

Cerebrum

Of the brain

Chalcedonica

Of Chalcedon, a suburb of Istanbul now called Kadikoy

Clusii

Of Clusius

Clypeatum

Resembling a round shield

Coccinia

Scarlet coloured

Cognata

Known as

Comoso

Long-haired

Concava

Hollow

Constantinopolitanum

Of Istanbul

Convallium

Of the valley

Cordatum

Heart-shaped

Corniculatum

Horned

Coxendicum

Of the hips

Creticum

Of Crete

Crispum

With curled leaves

Cuculi

Of the Cuckoo

Cypria

Of Cyprus

Dæmonum

Of demons

Damascena

Of Damascus

Diaboli

Of the Devil

Disocoridis

Of Disocorides

Distincta

Separate

Domestica

Of the household

Durius

Harder

Effigio

Shaped like

Erraticum

Wandering

Exigua

Slender

Facie

Appearance

Falcata

Like a scythe-blade

Flavo

Yellow

Flore

Flower

Fluidum

Flowing

Fœmina

Female. The old herbarists regarded some plants as male and others as female, on what basis is unclear.

Fœtida

Stinking

Fœtidagarum

Stinking of rotten fish

Foliis

Leaves; in (name of other plant)foliis = having leaves like the other plant

Fortis

Strong

Fruticosum

Fruit-bearing

Fugax

Fleeting

Galericulata

Having a skull-cap

Galli

Of France

Galloprovinciæ

Of Provence, in Southeastern France

Gallorum

Of the French

Germanicum

Of Germany

Giganteum

Giant

Glabrum

Smooth

Græcum

Of Greece

Grandius

Great

Hederaceum

Like Ivy

Helvetica

Of Switzerland

Hibernum

Of winter

Hierosolymitanus

Of Jerusalem

Hirsutum

Hairy

Hirundinariæ

Of swallows, swallow-tailed

Hispanicum

Of Spain

Hispanorum

Of the Spanish

Hortensis

Of the garden

Humilis

Low-growing

Incanum

Grey or hoary

Indium, Indicum

Of India

Infernalis

Of Hell

Inguinalis

Of the groin

Laciniatis

Having flaps

Laconia

Of Sparta

Lactea

Milky

Lactifica

Milk-making

Læthale

Deadly

Lævis

Light

Lanuginoso

Downy or woolly

Latifolium

Broad-leaved

Latiore

Wider

Leguminosa

Pod-bearing, leguminous

Leporina

Of hares

Liburnica

Of Liburnia, an area on the Adriatic Coast of Croatia.

Lignosum

Woody

Lingua

A tongue

Littoreum

Of the seashore

Lunaris

Of the Moon

Lupina

Of wolves

Lutea

Golden yellow

Lutetiana

Of Paris

Macrorhizon

Large-rooted

Magnus, maius

Large

Major

Larger

Malus

An apple

Maniacum

Insane

Mariæ, Marianus

Of (the Virgin) Mary

Marina

Of the sea or the seaside

Mas

Male. The old herbarists regarded some plants as male and others as female, on what basis is unclear.

Massiliensium

Of Marseille, in France

Maxima

Largest

Mechliniesne

Of Mechelen, a city in Belgium.

Mellita

Of honey

Mexicanum

Of Mexico

Minimum

Smallest

Minor

Smaller

Minus

Small

Mirabile

Wonderful

Mitius

Mild

Monachi

Of monks

Monspeliensium

Of Montpellier, a city in the South of France

Montanus

Of the mountains

Montis Ceti

Of Mons Cetium, a hill and region in Lower Austria

Moschata

Smelling like musk

Muricatum

Pointed

Muris, murinum

Of mice

Muris, murorum

Of walls

Muscoso

Mossy

Myrsinitis

Resembling or smelling of myrrh

Napifolia

Turnip-leave

Narbonense

Of Narbonne, a city in the South of France

Nemorum, nemorosus

Of open woodland

Nigro

Black

Nonum

Ninth

Nothum

Bastard

Odoratum

Strong-smelling

Odoriferum

Aromatic

Officinarium, officinalis

Used in medicine

Olens

Smelling

Opii odore vehementi

Smelling strongly of opium

Pallida

Pale or colourless

Palustris

Of the swamp

Pannonicum

Of Pannonia, a Roman province encompassing present-day western Hungary, eastern Austria, northern Croatia, north-western Serbia, northern Slovenia, western Slovakia and northern Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Paralius

Growing by the seaside

Parvum

Small

Passerina

Of a sparrow

Peltatum

Half-moon shaped

Penæ

Of Pena

Pentagonia

Five-sided

Perdicium

Of partridges

Peregrina

Wandering

Perfoliata

Through the leaf

Perpusillum

Extremely small

Persicum

Of Persia

Peruana, peruviana

Of Peru, or South America generally

Petræum

Of stones, either meaning growing in stony ground, or used for treating kidney or bladder stones

Phacoides

Like a lentil

Pinnula

A little plume

Pleno

Full

Pomiferum

Apple-bearing

Pompeiana

Of Pompeii

Ponticum

Of Pontus, an area now in Turkey on the south coast of the Black Sea

Porcellia

Of little pigs

Porcinum

Of pigs

Praæmorsa

Bitten off at the end

Primum

First ; either the first described, or else the earliest flowering or appearing

Prior

Earlier

Pulchrum

Beautiful

Pumilum

Dwarf

Pumulum

Of wild vines

Punctus

A point or prick

Pungens

Strong-smelling

Punicea

Of Carthage

Purpurascens

Purplish

Purpurea

Purple

Pusilla

Very small

Pyriformis

Pear-shaped

Quartus

Fourth

Quasi

As if

Quorundam

A certain thing

Radice

Root

Radix

Root

Recta

True, right

Regia

Royal

Repens

Creeping

Retuso

Blunt

Rhœas

Flowing

Risus

Laughter

Romana

Of Rome

Romanorum

Of the Romans

Rotundifolium

Round-leaved

Rubrum

Red

Rusticanus

Of the countryside

Sacerdotis

Holy

Salamanticum

Of Salamanca, a city in Spain

Sanguineum

Bloody.

Sanguis draconis

Dragon's Blood

Sativa

Cultivated

Saxatile

Found among rocks

Scaligeri

Of Scaliger

Secundum

Second

Segetum

Of cornfields

Sempervivum, Sempervirens

Everlasting

Septentrionale

Of the North

Serpentis

Of snakes

Serratifolia

Having toothed leaves

Sessilis

Having no footstalk

Seu

Also called . .

Siliqua

A pod or seed-vessel

Siliquastrum

Pod-bearing

Simiana

Of monkeys or apes

Sive

Also called . .

Somniferum

Causing sleep

Spinosum

Prickly

Spuria

False

Stella, Stellaria

Star-like

Sterilis

Sterile, not having seeds

Studiosorum

Of scholars

Styriaca

Of Styria, or Steiermark, a province in Austria

Suilla

Of pigs

Supinum

Lying flat

Sylvaticus

Of the forest

Sylvestris

Wild

Tectorum

Of roofs

Tenerior

More delicate

Tenuifolia

Narrow-leaved

Terrestris

Of the land

Tertium

Third

Tetraphyllum

Four-leaved

Tragi

Of Tragus

Umbellatum

Having flowers in an umbel

Umbilicum

Of the navel

Urceolaris

Of pitchers

Ursi

Of bears

Valentina

Of Valencia, in Spain

Veneris

Of the Goddess Venus, or physical love

Venti

Of the wind

Vermiculata

Full of worms

Verna

Of spring

Verrucaria

Of warts

Verum, vera

True

Vesicarium

Of the bladder or having bladders

Virgata

Staff or stick-like

Virginianus

Of Virginia, or more generally, anywhere in North America

Viridis

Green

Viscosa

Sticky, used for birdlime or glue

Vitraria

Of glass vessels

Vulgatior

More common

Vulgatis

Common

Vulgatissimum

Most common

Vulneraria

Of wounds