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Journal Article

Interpretation of Plant Names in a Late Medieval Medical Treatise

Giovanni Cristofolini and Umberto Mossetti
Taxon
Vol. 47, No. 2 (May, 1998), pp. 305-319
DOI: 10.2307/1223760
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1223760
Page Count: 15
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Interpretation of Plant Names in a Late Medieval Medical Treatise
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Abstract

The medical treatise written by Guilielmus of Saliceto around 1290 includes 13 chapters on renal affections, in which 133 plant species are mentioned. Almost all have been identified by means of comparison with 15th century herbals and 16th century herbaria and books. 39% are native to Italy and were presumably collected in the wild, 42% are cultivated plants, either native to the Mediterranean region or introduced since Roman times, 4% were introduced to Italy from E. Europe or the Middle East in the late Middle Ages, and 15% were imported from the east in the form of spices or drugs. Most of the plants mentioned by Guilielmus correspond entirely (56%) or in part (8%) with modern genera or species accepted with similar names or epithets in Linnaean nomenclature. 19% of Guilielmus' designations denote modern species or genera but did not enter Linnean nomenclature. Only some 17% of the Medieval names are of uncertain application or designated heterogeneous taxa; their use, if it persists, has substantially changed since the 16th century.

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