The Herbal, or General History of Plants was first published in 1597, and in a new edition revised and expanded by Thomas Johnson, in 1633. The revised version is a magnificent work; over 1600 folio pages illustrated with nearly 2,000 woodcuts. Described by Edmund Gosse as "the noblest of all the English Herbals," it covers virtually every plant known to western botany at the time. Each is described and illustrated, with notes on the places where it maybe found, when it flowers, its names in various languages, and its medicinal uses. Interspersed with these, are various charming anecdotes and quotations from ancient and modern authors. The illustrations are extremely accurate and modern botanists can easily identify the plant from them. The medicinal uses are detailed and very numerous; so much so that one wonders how in those days anyone was ever ill at all. There are even cures for diseases with no modern treatment, such as "pestilential botch", "unprofitable blood",and "hardening of the matrix."
This Ex-Classics edition contains five volumes. Volume 1 includes all the introductory material, and Book One, Containing Grass, Rushes, Reeds, Corn, Flags, and Bulbous, or Onion-rooted plants. Volumes 2 3, and 4 make up Book Two, Containing