For gardeners with a sense of history

OE wyrtig, adj: Garden-like, full of plants;
On anum wyrtige hamme, Homl. Skt. ii. 30:312




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Wyrtig - In early sources


In Early Sources...


Chamaemelum nobile,
AKA Matricaria chamomilla

Chamomile. Many thanks to the British
Library for providing this image  from 

MS Edgerton, F28v, Salerno, c. 1280 CE.

Growing chamomile in your garden

Medieval Names

Herbarium Apuleii

Camemelon... magee; magee 


Magean, magan, magoan, magee


Magea, magean, magee, magoan, magan

Chamomile takes its name from Greek kamai, on the ground; and melon, apple. Chamomile was used as a strewing herb, spread on the floor for its sweet scent; and planted along garden paths and on turf benches. Believed to be a physician to the plants growing near it, chamomile was often grown here and there among other plants.

Physicians of Myddfai (c. 1250), 125

If a snake should enter a person's mouth, or there should be any other living worm in him, let him mix wild chamomile, (in powder) in wine until it is thick, and drink it; it it will relieve him of them.

Physicians of Myddfai (c. 1250), 484 For an upset stomach
Take chamomile, mash well, and boil in a pint of wine till to reduce it by half. Give it to the patient, and they will certainly recover.

Physicians of Myddfai (c. 1250), 316

Things that are useful for the brain:

  • Smelling musk and chamomile

  • Drinking wine with moderation

  • Often eating sage leaves

  • Keeping the head warm

  • Washing the hands often

  • Walking and sleeping with moderation

  • Listening often to music and singing

  • Smelling red roses

  • Wetting your brow with rose water

  • Drinking water

  • Reading a bit before going to sleep

  • Eating a light diet

Wi eore cneowholen nieweard . acumba . cwi . 7 brune wyrt ealra emfela do on wilisc eale . bewyl o riddan dl 7 drince t hwile a he wurse . 7 r sio adl gefitte filge him simle mid tige horne ot t hal sie.

Lcboc (800 CE), I.3.xlvii

Against ulcers: The root of Butcher's broom, rough flax, chamomile, & water betony, equally into foreign ale. Boil down to one third, and let the patient drink when they need it. Where the disease has settled, follow him up always with the cupping horn, until the place be heal.

Leechbook I.3.xlvii.

Wi wre gefelen heardnesse wre lifre onne is seo to beianna mihatan wtre on am sien gesondene wyrta. Wermond . 7 wildre magan wyrttruman . fenogrecum hatte wyrt . 7 eor gealla...

Lcboc (800 CE), II.xxii

Against tender hardness of the liver then bathe it in hot water in which plants have been soaked, wormwood and wild maythe roots, a plant called fenugreek, and earthgall...

Leechbook, II. xxii

gemyne u mge :

hwt u ameldodest

hwt u gendadest

t alorforda .

t nfre for gefloge

feorh ne gesealde

syan him mon

mgan to mete

gegyrede .

The Nine Herbs Prayer, in
the Lacnunga
, BL Harley 585

...mind you chamomile

what you disclosed

what you brought to an end

at Alorford .

that never to infection
a man's life be sold

since for him someone
chamomile as a meal
prepared .
         From the Nine Herbs Prayer


XXIV. Magee

1. Wi eagerna sare genim man r sunnan upgange Das wyrte e man camemelon 7 orum naman magee nemne 7 onne hy man nime cwee t he hy wille wi fleann 7 wi eagera sare niman; nyme syan t wos 7 smyrige a eagan rmid.

Pseudo-Apuleius, Herbarium
(11th century)

24. Maythe

Against sore eyes, take before the sunrise the plant that some call chamomile and others call maythe, and when one takes it let that one say they take it against white specks, and they take it against sore eyes; take a paste of it and smear the eyes there with it.

Herbal of Pseudo-Apuleius

Please note: Many plants have been used in past and present times for medicinal purposes, and as one of the focuses of Wyrtig is the history of gardening, these uses are discussed here. However, common sense requires that you consult your family physician or other health care provider before using any plant materials for medicinal purposes. The old saying that "A doctor who treats him- (or her-) self has a fool for a patient" is no less true in herbal medicine than in any other branch of the healing sciences. Herbal remedies should not be used by the uninformed; medical advice should be sought before using any herbal remedy.


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