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OE wyrtig, adj: Garden-like, full of plants;
On anum wyrtige hamme, Homl. Skt. ii. 30:312




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Wyrtig - In early sources

Coriander. Many thanks to the
British Library for providing this image from
 Edgerton 747:27v, c. 1300 CE.




In Early Sources...



Coriandrum sativum


Growing coriander in your garden

One of a multitude of plants said to have been brought to England by the Romans, coriander takes its name from the Greek koros, a bedbug, a reference to both the appearance and the smell (unpleasant) of its black seeds. Fortunately, the odor of the seeds becomes pleasant as they dry. Sativum means cultivated.

Medieval Names

Capitulare de Villis


Herbarium Apuleii

Celendre, cellendre, coliandra, coliandre, coliandran, coliandrum


Cylendran, cyllelendran


celedran, celendran, celendre,  celendre, celledran, cellendre, cellendran, cellendres

Coriander is found in ancient Egyptian tombs, including that of Tutankamun. Early Hebrew tribes used it in the Passover meal (it has been found in Nahal Hemar Cave in Israel, c. 6000 BC), and the Romans seasoned and preserved dried meat with coriander.


In Britain, Coriander is sites dating to before the Roman Conquest, such as Calleva Atrevatum (modern Silchester). Later on, coriander was very popular among the later Romano-Brititsh populace, and has been identified at nearly half of all British sites dating to 100-300 CE -- towns, farms, and villages alike. After c. 500 CE, it is much less common, but its mention in early herbals suggests that it was still in use.

XXXVIII.ii. Coliandrum

WiŽ Žat wif hradelice cennan męge, nam Žisse wyrt sęd, endlufan corn oŽŽer dreotyne, cnite mid ane Žrade on ane clęne linnene claŽe, nime Žanne a man Že sy męgŽeades man, cnapa oŽŽer męden 7 healdan at Žan wyndran, Žeo, nea Žan gewealdan, 7 sona swa eal... do sone Žone lęchedom aweg, Ži lęs Žęs innoŽes dęl Žęr ęfter fylige.

Herbarium Apuleii, CIV.ii

38.2. Coriander

In order that a woman may quickly bring forth her child, take the seed of coriander, 11 grains or 13; tie them with a thread into a clean linen cloth. then take one who is a virgin, a boy or a maiden. Have them hold this on the left thigh near the vagina, & as soon as the birth is over take away all of this medication to prevent prolapse.

 Anglo-Saxon Herbal of Apuleius CIV.ii


WiŽ Žon Že wif ne męge bearn acenuan. ...bind on Žat winstre Žeoh up wiŽ Žat cennende lim nioŽwearde beolonan oŽŽe .XII. corn cellendran seades 7 Žat sceal don cniht oŽŽe męden. swa Žat bearn sie accened do Ža wyrta aweg lęs Žat innelfe utrige.

Lęce boc III.xxxvii

If a woman cannot become pregnant bind on her left thigh up against the vulva the lower part of henbane or .XII. grains of coriander & that shall give a boy or a girl * when the bairn is kindled take the herbs away lest she miscarry.

Leechbook  III.xxxvii


Galien seiŽ Žat coriaundre hauyŽ somewhat of a stierne and stif vertue, for it wole sle Že wormes of Že wombe and trenches if she be dronke wiŽ wyn or wiŽ vynegre medled Žere-among.

                                 Macer, Coriaundre

Galen says that coriander has somewhat of a stern and stiff virtue, for it will slay the worms of abdomen and stomach, if it is drunk with wine or with vinegar mixed therein.

Macer, Coriander

...lichoman Ža Ža hęto...Žrowian

...celendres fęd gegnid 7 seoŽ on hunige oŽ Žt hit Žicce sie. genim Žęs Žonne on morgenne 7 on ęfenne Žreo cucles męl sele to Žicgenne.

Lęce boc II.xlvii

...for bodies that suffer inflamed sores

...[take] coriander finely ground and boil in honey until that is thick. Take this then in the  morning and in the evening, three spoonful measures, to drink.

Leechbook II.97


For Že balloqes: Coriandre confect wiŽ reysones & honey & plastrid wole abate diuerse swellynges & namely of balloqs.

            Macer, Coriandre

For the testicles: Coriander mixed with raisins and honey and plastered [on the swelling] will ease diverse swellings, and especially of the testicles.

Macer, Coriander


For pe flux: coriaundre sede drunkyn ofte wiŽ water wole stanche pe flux & make him costyf Žat is laxatif.

            Macer, Coriandre

For diarrhea: coriander seed drunken often with water will staunch the flux and make him constipated who is laxative.

Macer, Coriander






Please note: Many plants have been used in past and present times for medicinal purposes, and as one of the focuses of Wyrtig is the history of gardening, these uses are discussed here. However, common sense requires that you consult your family physician or other health care provider before using any plant materials for medicinal purposes. The old saying that "A doctor who treats him- (or her-) self has a fool for a patient" is no less true in herbal medicine than in any other branch of the healing sciences. Herbal remedies should not be used by the uninformed; medical advice should be sought before using any herbal remedy.


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