Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Voynich Manuscript: Philodendron, Groundsel and Bear Breeches

Dana Scott proposed Philodendron as plant id for fol. 6r of the Voynich Manuscript in 2001. Steve D chose specific one - Philodendron bipinnatifidum. This plant id is probably the best argument for New World species in the VMs I've seen. If true, it would place the manuscript in 16th century and later.

My own proposal for the same plant is Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris). It was used since Dioscorides to expel kidney stones,  which could be the meaning of the thing 'coming out' of the buds. It is a plant included in the Pseudo Apuleus herbal manuscripts (the example is from Bodleian Library here ).

I also like Edith Sherwood's idea - Bear Breeches (Acanthus mollis).


  1. Hi Ellie,

    I'll be downloading a larger print of B408 f 6 r so that I can transcribe the Species nomenclature which is apparent in the very first line of discussion. From that, you will probably be able make a definite ID.

    In the meantime, have you been following my discussion in re B408
    f-116v ? Those first two lines, barely legible, have led me to sixteenth century Ankara, and the ruins of an Augustinian monument. I have been researching Leiden University's Busbecq/Clusius correspondence in re the first appearance of tulip bulbs in Europe. Meanwhile, I've been reading a very good book called Tulipomania (Mike Dash). I'm still waiting for another book to arrive "Busbecq's Turkish Letters".

    We may never find an illustration or discussion in B408 of the tulipan/thulipen......It would have probably meant Busbecq's beheading if his travel diary (B408) had fallen into the hands of Suliman's courtiers.

    Time to eat...please forgive me if I've interfered with the train of thought/identification of the plant you are displaying on this page of discussion. A tout a l'heure!

  2. Hi BD, no problem at all. Sorry for the late response - 4th of July camping...