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

Mullein. Many thanks to the British
Library for providing this image  from  MS  Egerton 747f. 101v, c.1300 CE


In Early Sources...


Great mullein
Verbascum thapsus



Growing mullein in your garden


Medieval Names


Auadona, feldwyrt,  feltwyrt

Herbarium Apuleii

Feltwyrt; uerbascum, felt wyrt; uerbascus, feldwyrt; Engle feldwyrt



Verbascum thapsus, widely used to treat lung disorders, was first recommended for this by Dioscorides, a Greek army medic (c.40-90 CE) whose illustrated herbal was a resource for healers for more than 2000 years.

Native to Africa and Eurasia, Great mullein now flourishes in the New World as well.  A biennial, it spends its first year as a low-growing rosette of enormous, felty leaves. In its second year, it sends up a 6 foot tall spike of clear, yellow flowers. It is a familiar site along roadsides, where it finds the disturbed soil it prefers.

Felt wyrt
Đeos wyrt
e man uerbascum 7 orum naman Engle feldwyrt nemne bi cenned on sandigum stowum 7 on myxenum as wyrte ys sd t Mercurius sceolde Iulixe am ealdormen syllan a he com to Circean 7 he na syan nige hyre yfelan weorc ondered.

OE Herbarium LXXIII


This plant, which some call verbascum, and others, English feltwort, is known in sandy places and on waste piles. [Of] this plant [it] is said that Mercury gave  [it] to Ulysses the leader before he came to Circe, and he therefore none of her evil works dreaded.

Herbarium of Pseudo-Apuleius, LXXIII

1. Gyf hwa mid hym ysse wyrte ane tealgre byr ne bi he breged mid nigum ogan ne him wildeor ne dere ne nig yfel geancyme

OE Herbarium  LXXIII

If with him of this plant one twig he bears, he will not be shaken by any terror, nor will a wild beast hurt him, nor any evil come near. 

Herbarium of Pseudo-Apuleius, LXXIII

2. Wi fotadle genim at ylcan wyrte uerbascum gecnucude lege to am sare binnan feawum tidum heo gehl t sar to am scearplice t he eac gan dyrre 7 mge eac ure ealdras cwdon 7 sdun t eos gesetednys healicost fremade.

OE Herbarium LXXIII

For gout, take this same plant, verbascum, pounded, lay it to the sore; within a short time, it will heal the sore so effectively that [the patient] can dare and be able to go. And each of our elders applied warm dung and said that this procedure was highly beneficial.

Herbarium of Pseudo-Apuleius, LXXIII

 XIX  Emeroidis

Eithir make him a fumigacion of moleyn, and calamynt, and wormod, and euforbe y-soden in lye and piper therwith.

Gilbertus Anglicus

 Chapter 19 Hemorrhoids

Or make [the patient] a fumigation of mullen and calamint and wormwood and euphorbia, soaked in lye and with pepper.

Gilbert the Englishman, 1250


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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