Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes
By John Gerarde (1597)

The herball or Generall historie of plantes. Gathered by John Gerarde of London Master in Chirurgerie very much enlarged and amended by Thomas Iohnson citizen and apothecarye of London
Publish Date: 1633

John Gerard A

1 Cannabis mas. Male or Steele Hempe.
†† 2 Cannabis foemina. Femeline, or Female Hempe.

The Description.
1 Hempe bringeth forth round stalkes, straight, hollow, fiue or six foot high, full of branches when it groweth wilde of it selfe; but when it is sowne in fields it hath very few or no branches at all. The leaues thereof be hard, tough, somewhat blacke, and if they be bruised they be of a ranke smell, made vp of diuers little leaues ioyned together, euery particular leafe whereof is narrow, long, sharpe pointed, and nicked in the edges: the seeds come forth from the bottomes of the wings and leaues, being round, somewhat hard, full of white substance. The roots haue many strings.

2 There is another, being the female Hempe, yet barren and without seed, contrarie vnto the 709 nature of that sex; which is very like to the other being the male, and one must be gathered before the other be ripe, else it will wither away, and come to no good purpose.

The Place.
Hempe, as Columella writeth, delighteth to grow in a fat dunged and waterie soile, or plaine and moist, and deepely digged.

The Time.
Hempe is sowne in March and Aprill; the first is ripe in the end of August, the other in Iuly.

The Names.
This is named of the Grecians [...]: also of the Latines Cannabis: the Apothecaries keep that name: in high-Dutch, [...] hanff: of the Italians Canape: of the Spaniards, Canamo: in French, Chanure: of the Brabanders, Kemp: in English, Hempe. The male is called Charle Hempe, and Winter Hempe: the female, Barren Hempe, and Sommer Hempe.

The Temperature and Vertues.
The seed of Hempe, as Galen writeth in his bookes of the faculties of simple medicines, is hard of digestion, hurtfull to the stomacke and head, and containeth in it an ill iuyce: notwithstanding some do vse to eate the same [...], cum alijs tragematis, with other junkets.

It consumeth winde, as the said Author saith in his booke of the faculties of medicines, and is so great a drier, as that it drieth vp the seed if too much be eaten of it.

Dioscorides saith, That the iuyce of the herbe dropped into the eares asswageth the paine thereof proceeding (as I take it) of obstruction or stopping, as Galen addeth.

The inner substance or pulpe of the seed pressed out in some kinde of liquor, is giuen to those that haue the yellow jaundice, when the disease first appeares, and oftentimes with good successe, if the disease come of obstruction without an ague; for it openeth the passage of the gall, and disperseth and concocteth the choler through the whole body.

Matthiolus saith, that the seed giuen to hens causeth them to lay egges more plentifully.

John Gerard B
John Gerard P708

In addition to what we know of as Hemp or the Medical Cannabis plant, Gerard's Herbal also contains mention of numerous other herbal plants that at times can cause so much confusion, to the novice antique Cannabis collectors.   Note the similarity of names; Wilde Hemp, Cannabis Spuria, Bastard Hemp, water-hemp, Eupatorium Cannabinum, Hemp Agrimony etc.   And a quick look at the pictures (shown) show just how easy it is to be confused.   Add to this the fact that many of these early herbals were being published by those who were relying on the works of others.   Example, this addition of Gerard’s herbals was published years after the authors death, and note how references are being made to the works of Galen, Dioscorides etc.

John Gerard P709

John Gerard P710

John Gerard P711

John Gerard P712

John Gerard P933
Toilet A
Toilet A

To this very day Antique Cannabis Collectors are STILL being confronted by many Myths surrounding the use (or none use) of Medical Cannabis.   And as these myths seem to affect the world of antique collectors, perhaps it would be best to go over some of them now.




Right Arrow

Our thanks to EEBO [Early English Books Online] for much of the enclosed material.

Due to space / download time considerations, only selected materials are displayed. If you would like to obtain more information, feel free to contact the museum. All our material is available (at cost) on CD-Rom format.

Left Arrow
Back to the
Last Section


Right Arrow
On to the
Next Section