Ancient Names for Herbs

Ancient  Names for Herbs

Long ago, before many herbs were known by  their present names, many herbs that were used by people in the country for medicines and food were called by common names which were usually based on what the herb or its flower, leaves, roots, or seeds looked like. These names have flowered modern stories of witches creating a brew of batswing, rat’s tail, and lady’s finger. These were not the actual ingredients of the potions, but rather common names used to describe what each herb resembled. Below is a list of old herb names.

Modern Name Olde English Name
Adder’s Tongue Serpent’s Tongue
Agaric Death Angel
Agrimony Church Steeples
Ague Root Crow Corn
Alyssum Madwort
Amaranth Red Cock’s Comb
American Valerian Ram’s Head
Ash Weed Goat’s Foot
Aster Eyes
Asafoetida Devil’s Dung
Avens Herb Harefoot, Golden Star
Bachelor’s Button Devil’s Flower
Basil Witches Herb
Bay laurel Blue Jay
Bear’s Breech Gall blood from a shoulder
Belladonna Devil’s Cherries
Betony Lamb’s Ear
Bistort Snakeweed, Dragon scales
Black Haw King’s Crown
Bladderwack Sea Spirit
Briony Snake Grape
Bromeliad Earthstar
Buckthorn Bone of an ibis
Bugleweed Wolf Foot
Burdock Beggar’s Buttons
Calmus Sweet Flag
Carrot Bird’s Nest
Cedar Kronos Blood
Celandine Devil’s Milk
Chamomile Blood of Hestia
Cherry tree gum Brains
Chickweed Tongue Grass
Cinquefoil Five Fingers
Clover Semen of Ares
Club Moss Wolfclaw, foxtail
Coltsfoot Coltsfoot
Comfrey Ear of an Ass
Common Plantain Englishman’s Foot
Couch Grass Dog
Cowslip Fairy’s Cup
Cranesbill Crow’s Foot
Dandelion Lion’s tooth, Priest’s crown
Dandelion Leaves Swine’s snout
Datura Witch’s thimble, Devil’s apple
Dill Semen of Hermes
Dill Juice             Tears of a Hamadryas Baboon
Dill Seed             Hair of a Hamadryas Baboon
Dodder Witches Hair, Devil’s guts
Earth Apple from the belly
Elder Sap blood
Euphorbia Wolf’s milk
Fenugreek bird’s foot
Fern Skin of man
Foxglove Foxglove, bloody fingers
Garlic, Wild Eagle
Geranium, Wild Dove’s Foot
Germander Bird’s eye
Golden Seal Indian dye
Goosegrass Gosling Wing
Great Mullein Hares Beard
Ground Ivy Cat’s foot
Hart’s Tongue Fern Horse’s tongue
Hawkweed hawk
Heliotrope cherry pie
Henbane devil’s eye
Holly Leaf Bat’s Wings
Honeysuckle Goat’s Leaf
Hops Nightingale
Horehound Bull’s blood
Horsetail Paddock Pipes
Hound’s tongue dog’s tongue
Houseleek from the foot
Hydrangea Seven barks
Indian Paintbrush Snake’s friend
Knotweed sparrow’s tongue
Lady’s mantle bear’s foot
Lavender Elf Leaf
Lettuce Lamb
Leopard’s bane pig’s tail
Lupine Blood from a head
May Apple Duck’s Foot
Molukka Fairies’ Eggs
Moss Bat’s Wool
Mugwort Old Man
Mulberry tree sap blood of a goose
Mullein graveyard dust
Mustard Semen of Heracles
Ox Eye Daisy Great Ox Eye
Pansy Bird’s eye
Parsley Devil’s Oatmeal
Pennyroyal Organ Tea
Peony Woodpecker
Periwinkle Devil’s Eye
Pimpernel Poorman’s Weatherglass
Pine Cones Teeth
Plantain Adder’s Tongue
Poppy Blind eyes
Purslane Blood of Ares
Ragwort Fairies Horses
Resin of Draco Palm Dragon’s Blood
Rosemary Elf Leaf
Rowan Thor’s Helper
Rue Weasel
Sage Toad
Shepherd’s Purse Shepherd’s Heart
Skullcap Mushroom Skull
Snapdragon Dog’s Mouth, Calf’s Snout
Spurge Fat from a head
St. Johnswort Goat’s Ears
Tamarisk Blood of an eye
Tansy Buttons
Toadflax Dragon Bushes
Tormentil Flesh and Blood
Tongue of a Turnip Lion’s hair
Turnip Sap Man’s bile
Valerian Rat, Capon’s Tail
Walnut Heart
White Hellebore Semen of Helios
Wild Lettuce Titan’s blood
Wolfs bane wolf’s hat
Woodruff master of the woods
Wormwood Crown for a King, Old woman
Wormwood seed hawk’s heart
Yarrow Devil’s nettle, Nosebleed
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Categories: Herbs | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Ancient Names for Herbs

  1. Jason Schock

    I like your list! I’ve got a similar one which I assembled from various websites years ago. Would you be so kind as to tell me the source of your list?

    • One of the girls told me she got it off our old Yuku site. If it had any credits to it, I know she would have listed them. That is what I instruct all of them to do. Why do you know who it belongs too? Is it yours?

      • Jason Schock

        No no. I just think it’s interesting, especially where it differs from mine. From the small bit of research I put into assembling my list (years ago), I know that a lot of these plants have multiple names, usually differing between regions.

      • Hey Jason, I am sorry if I came across like the wicked witch of the west. I can remember exactly when I did answer your post. I was upset to think that info from our group came over not credited again. I know a couple of days before your comment, I had someone contact me in regards to such a matter. So I figured when it rains, it pours.

        I know I have found several sites on the internet for herbal information. I know this one, Botanical.com is super nice. It gives you tons of info on the herbs they have listed there. If you haven’t been to the site, it would definitely be worth a visit.

        I have got to run for now. Please accept my apologizes. Enjoy the holidays!
        Goddess bless,
        Lady A

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