Transcription, comments, theories, links to do with VMs page f1v to be added here...


Description: edit

One plant centered on page.

Root: a knobby, warped, pancake-like tuber with short roots attached like claws or fangs all around the rim. Light color.
Stem: thick, well drawn. Light color.
Branches: one straight up, two oblique with drooping tips.
Leaves: broad lance-shape, with two short tails.
Stalk: short.
Flowers: one, growing at the tip of the center branch.
Stalk: very short.
Chalyx: conical, continuous with petals. Petals: short rounded, light-colored. Core: hemispherical, dark-colored (could be a berry; see below).

Two paragraphs (with 3.8 and 5.8 lines), just below mid-page, left- and right-justified, interrupted by the plant's main stem.

Comments: edit

Part of this drawing (root and leaves only) is repeated on Pharma page f102r1[3,2].

The plant looks basically normal, except for the very peculiar root.

Petersen identifies the plant as "Solanum Solatrium, Belladonna" specifically the "flower". He says: "see L.Fuchs p.398". There is no "Solanum solatrium"; rather, "solatrium" is an ancient (Dioscoridean) name for some or all of these species:

Atropa Belladona (deadly nightshade)

Hyoscyamus niger (henbane)

Solanum nigrum (black nightshade)

Solanum dulcamara (bittersweet)

and perhaps other somewhat less likely species such as Withania somnifera and Physalis alkekengi.

The leaves of f1v seem most compatible those of Atropa belladonna (shape) and Hyoscyamus niger (attachment to stem), and the "flower" at the top of f1v does resemble the sheathed, shiny black fruits of these two species.

However, A.beladonna's root has been described as a roundish rhizome with a long (up to 1m) tapering root, which does not seem to match the highly distinctive "pancake with claws" of f1v. I have found no image or description of the other plants' roots.

A very similar root, with quite different leaves, can be seen on another Italian herbal:

University of Vermont Library MS 2, fol. 39 (ca. 1500)

The medieval text calls that plant "Gran[i]a maggiore". The modern commentary tentatively identifies it with

Ecballium elaterium (Squirting Cucumber)

However the leaves do not match, and the flower barely so. I have found no image or description of E.elaterium's roots.

All four plants are poisonous in varying degrees. The active principles can be absorbed by smoking or through the skin as well as by ingestion. They were used as potent psychoactive drugs, causing paralysis of involuntary muscles, dizziness, sleep, hallucinations, violent behavior, etc., and have been often associated with witchcraft.