Gerard, John 1545-1607

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Gerard is the best known of all English herbalists. He was a barber-surgeon but his energies were employed chiefly in horticulture. For twenty years he had a renowned garden in a fashionable London district. In 1596 he issued a list of plants which he cultivated, which is the first complete catalog ever published of the contents of a single garden. Gerard's reputation rests principally upon his The Herball or Generall Historie of Plants (1597). Gerard's herbal is not original. It was based on the work of Dodoens and de L'Obel. It contains 1,800 woodcuts of which only a few are new. One represents the potato which is believed to be the first figure of the plant ever published. Nearly all illustrations are from the blocks used by Tabernaemontanus in 1590.

The first edition held the field without a competitor for more than a generation. Thomas Johnson's revision greatly improved the herbal by Gerard. The title page shows two draped figures, Theophrastus on the left and Dioscorides on the right.

The Herball, or, Generall Historie of Plantes. by John Gerard