Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

The Garden of Health: Gart der Gesundheit, Hortus Sanitatis

April 4th, 2016

The herbal is a medical garden in book form–hence the titles Hortus Sanitatis and Gart der Gesundheit–and as such contains data on the appearance, gathering, preparation, and use of medicinal plants. Remedies from the animal and mineral kingdoms are often included as well. Although the works shown here are from the early part of the Golden Age of the Herbal (roughly 1470-1670), these practical manuals have been popular with scientist and non-scientist alike since antiquity, and a stroll through any bookstore today will attest to a resurgence of that popularity. The Department of Special Collections has a rich and growing garden of herbals spanning six centuries.

Page from herbal book. Call number Summerfield E60 v. 1_1, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.   Page from herbal book. Call number Summerfield D291, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Left: Otto Brunfels, Herbarum vivae eicones, [1532], call number Summerfield E60 v.1. Right: Pedanius Dioscorides of Anazarbus, De medicinali materia, [1542], call number Summerfield D291 item 1. Click images to enlarge.

Page from herbal book. Call number Summerfield C1125, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.   Page from herbal book. Call number Summerfield C2114, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Left: Christovam da Costa, Trattato  . . . della historia, natura, et virtu delle droghe medicinali, 1585, call number Summerfield C1125. Right: Incipit Tractatus de virtutibus herbarum, [1509], call number Summerfield C2114. Click images to enlarge.

Adapted entry from the catalog for the exhibition, All that in this delightfull Gardin growes, Department of Special Collections, 1983
Sally Haines, Rare Book Cataloger