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Re: VMs: Re: Plants in the VM


Hello Jan,

It seems that there are varying degrees of cryptobotony involved with the 
plants. The plant drawing in f09v is clearly viola tricolor or a very close 

I'm not that convinced - nor by the idea that the upsidedownness would result from seeing a collected specimen - most herbal/botanical drawings will be from collected specimens.

Even a dried/pressed speciment (Viola dries/presses well) will not invert the flower head.

Most of the 'plant' drawings are too weird - especially in comparison with other herbals/plant drawings from 15/16 C which are much more accurate and recognizable.

Crypto?  no, I think plain incompetent.


What is interesting about the plant is the positioning of the 
flowers which appear to be turned upside down, suggesting that the plant was 
drawn from a collected specimen. Some plants show arrangements that seem to 
express a personal significance, though some of the drawings most likely 
resemble real plants, at least in part if not in whole. A number of the 
suggested matches are certainly very close if not right on. The fact that 
many of the plants exude certain toxins is probably accurate, which in part 
may suggest a need for secrecy; imagine if the manuscript were a document 
used by assassins. More likely it falls in the realm of medicinal 
applications as practiced by physicians, surgeons, alchemists, nuns, 
stregherians, etc. Presently I am interested in strega and the Old Religion 
of Italy, though in the past I looked closely at the pure science of botany. 
I would say that the plant drawings are based in part, if not in whole, on 
real plants the characteristics of which were well known to the author of 
the VMS.

Dana Scott

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Jan" <hurychj@xxxxxxxxx>
To: <vms-list@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Saturday, May 22, 2004 6:12 AM
Subject: VMs: Plants in the VM


looking at the plants in the VM, it occured to me, that they are 
unrecognizable, because the author deliberately  modified their 
appearance. Did anybody get the same impression? I do not mean that they 
contain the code - that would be real overkill -  but in the case the book 
contains some secret recipes (e.g. for  "Aqua Sinapia" or others) it would 
be foolish to hide the text and provide the exact pictures of the real 
plants used.

Some plant parts are defnitely "out of this world", but they also look 
like fabrications. On the other hand, they also contain some elements of 
true  plants, many  of them recognizable, see ref. 

Best regards.

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Dr William H Edmondson
School of Computer Science
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston B15 2TT
United Kingdom

Voice  -  +44-121-414-4763
email  -  w.h.edmondson@xxxxxxxxxx