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VMS -- Botany

>Sempervivum Spangles: (page down and take a look at the flowers for

Dear Dana,

Much as I admire your tenacity and efforts to identify the
plants in the Voynich,  I think your methodology may be
slightly flawed.

You cannot really use "varieties" of plants. These are
modern - entirely modern. Spanges is a modern variety
probably only a few decades old.  A rose in the 14th/15th century
was very different from the roses most of us have in our
gardens today. You should be looking at the plants as they
were at the time the Voynich MS was created.

Also what you should be using as sources for identifying these
plants are the other herbals of the period - from Dioscorides
onward. These often don't actually represent the plants in
the exact way in which we expect of drawings today. 
Indeed some of the plants in the early herbals are difficult
to identify from the drawings. The herbals copied from one 
another. Knowledge in that period was traditional, copied from
past versions. People did not value at that time an empirical
approach but accepted without question the authority of the
past. Thus Aristotle's science still ruled in the 14th/15th
century even though it really belonged to the mindset of
the classical Greek period 1800 years earlier. People just 
did not see any need to update this knowledge. The old
herbals of Dioscorides were then taken as the fount of
knowledge. It was only in the modern period from the
late 16th and 17th centuries that these authorities were 

The creator of the Voynich Herbal section would have 
taken these images from other herbals, rather than 
going out into the fields and hedgerows with his 
parchment, pens and brushes.

I do wish you luck in your search but I would hope
you do not waste your time unnecessarily. 

If you can, try and get access to a facsimile of the
Dioscorides, or even one of the later printed book
herbals which were published from about 1500 
onwards. You won't find these on the internet, but
in a good quality University Library. In these
source documents you will  find your plants.

Best wishes,

Adam McLean
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