Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Superb Article about the Tacuinum Sanitatis manuscripts

The Curcurbitaceae and Solanaceae illustrated in medieval manuscripts known as the Tacuinum Sanitatis, by Harry S Paris, Marie-Christine Daunay and Jules Janick is an excellent article about the cucumbers, melons, eggplants and mandrake images from this medieval manuscript.  The authors have sifted through 14 of the surviving copies of this manuscript, settling on six as bein architypal, and analysing the images for botanical accuracy and typology, and comparing and contrasting the variations between different copies of the manuscript. 
     This article is highly recommended for anyone iterested in growing these plants in a medieval garden context, as they have very specific information regarding types and variants of the fruits in question (and they address inconsistencies of the artworks as well)
    Among the represented plants are Cucumis sativus, short-fruited cucumber; Cucumis melo, Chate Group, Inodorous Group (casaba melon), Flexuosus Group (snake melon), Adana Group; Citrullus lanatus, watermelon; Citrullus lanatus, citron; Lagenaria siceraria, calabash, bottle gourd; Solanum melongena, aubergine (eggplant); Mandragora sp., mandrake.

This was published in the Annals of Botany 103: 1187-1205, 2009 which is available online at  and I thank Loren Mendelsohn for pointing me to this article.

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