Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Date of this Version



The essence of an herbal, one author has written, is the combination of the botanical classification of the plants, a description of their medicinal properties, and traditional plant lore. Since the books were meant to be used, illustrations and physical descriptions played an important role in helping the reader identify the plants included.

The great period for printed herbals was the late fifteenth to the seventeenth century. As medicine and botany developed in the early modern period, herbals were supplanted by more specialized books emphasizing medical uses of plants or botanical classification.

The herbals listed here include some of the most important works, and they are interesting for their roles in the development of botanical classification, for their illustrations, and for the light they shed on beliefs and practices of earlier times.

These herbals are listed under the dates they first appeared, with parentheses in case we own only a later edition. They are housed in Special Collections. Love Library (South) Room 29. The University Libraries also own reprints or microfilm copies of a number of other herbals not listed here. For more information, see the following books. Lists of herbals are included in these books.