Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Matthias de l'Obel: Mentha romana

Icones stirpium, seu, Plantarum tam exoticarum, quam indigenarum -- Pictures of plants, or plants as well as foreign, and natives -- was published by Matthias de l'Obel in 1591. This woodcut shows Mentha spicata, commonly known as spearmint. John Stephenson and James Morss Churchill included a description of the plant in Medical Botany:
Spear Mint grows naturally in marshy places, and by the banks of rivers, but is more rarely met with in this state than [Mentha Piperita (peppermint)]... The leaves are of a lively green colour, about two inches and a half long...
A few facts about Matthias de l'Obel
1. He was born in 1538 Lille, France and died March 3, 1616 in Highgate, London.
2. He trained in Leuven and Montpellier as a physician.
3. Before he moved to England, he served as physician to William of Orange. He left the Netherlands to escape civil war.
4. In England, he became physician and botanist to James I.
5. Father Charles Plumier named the genus Lobelia for him.


  1. I love the smell of spearmint growing in the garden!

  2. Unfortunately, by the time I've ever been able to smell mint, it has become rampant. Squirrelly stuff escapes my efforts to contain it. In my Oregon garden it got into a rhododendron bed and darn near took the place over.