Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Voynich Manuscript: Great Masterwort

The Great Masterwort (Astrantia major/minor) was used in the Middle ages to treat the bite of a rabid dog, which may explain the animal in the root of plant drawing on fol. 34r of the Voynich Manuscript. The difference between Astrantia major and Astrantia minor is that the first has leaf with five points and the second has six and more. The VMs leaves on this page have five point so my placeholder for this page will be Astrantia Major, although both are very similar.


  1. A charming and witty description. You have made yourself a good likeness here, seductive without being so convincing as elephant garlic.

    This because no evident match for the roots,nor habit, and because this form of leaf is a formal convention in the Vms botanical section, where you make the points very literal.

    By the way, I wonder if European dogs are still prone to rabies? It's something we read about but are not troubled by - sufficient distance from the issue, and stricter controls on what we permit to cross our boundaries, I expect.

  2. Hi Diane, all I know about rabies is that if any dog bites you you have to go to the doctor and get series of shots. I wouldn't take a chance not to go to hospital no matter where in the world I am. For sure, I wouldn't search for Great Masterwort :)

  3. Good show, Ellie!

    Here in the US, and especially where my home is located, the rabies virus is endemic not only in our pet population but also in our forest animals, skunks in particular. So, if you and your family like to take hikes/picnics anywhere and you spot skunks and racoons moving around during daylight hours, do a rapid about-face, and move out of range. Report the unusual appearance to park rangers or public health as soon as possible. Some people dread the series of injections more than the actual bite or scratch.