Herbs and Mary

Culinary and Fragrant Herbs of Religious Symbolism

Most of our culinary and fragrant herbs were grown at one time in medieval-monastery gardens or used by missionaries, In this way they came to have popular names reflecting religious life and thought.

Some of the names came from the liturgical feasts in the Church calendar for which plants normally were in bloom or fruit. Others came from striking plant shapes which brought to mind events of the Bible or thoughts about the life of the Holy Family. Many fragrant, soothing and healing herbs were associated especially with Mary, the mother of Jesus, because they suggested her sweetness and maternal solicitude.

The following religious names of herbs have been gleaned from dictionaries and floras of the old and new worlds. It is hoped they will contribute to the lore of herbs and to the religious sense of herb gardening.

A summary of herb growth and uses has also been included. Further details are available from the many excellent herb books and nurseries.


Key
Growth: Annual Biennial Perennial, Shrub.
Height: Displayed in inches
Parts Used: Flower, Leaf, Root, Seed
Uses: Aromatic, Flavorlngs, Potherb, Salad Greens, Teas


Botanical Name: Achellea millefol.
Common Name: Yarrow
Religious Name: Our Lord's Back
Growth: Perennial
Height: 36"
Parts Used: Leaf
Uses: Aromatic, Teas

Botanical Name: Allium schoenopras.
Common Name: Chives
Religious Name: Our Lady's Garleek
Growth: Perennial
Height: 24"
Parts Used: Leaf
Uses: Flavorings, Potherb

Botanical Name: Althea officinalis
Common Name: Marshmallow
Religious Name: Our Lady's Cheeses
Growth: Perennial
Height: 48"
Parts Used: Leaf
Uses: Flavorings, Potherb

Botanical Name: Anethium graveolens
Common Name: Dill
Religious Name: Devil-Away
Growth: Annual, Biennial
Height: 36"
Parts Used: Leaf, Seed
Uses: Aromatic, Flavorings, Potherb

Botanical Name: Angellca archangel
Common Name: Angelica
Religious Name: Angel's Plant
Growth: Biennial, Perennial
Height: 72"
Parts Used: Root
Uses: Aromatic, Flavorings, Teas

Botanical Name: Apium graveolens
Common Name: Celery
Religious Name: Virgin's Marsh Plant
Growth: Annual, Biennial
Height: 36"
Parts Used: Leaf, Flower
Uses: Potherb, Flavorings, Salad Greens, Teas

Botanical Name: Artemisia abrotanum
Common Name: Southernwood
Religious Name: Our Lord's Wood
Growth: Perennial
Height: 48"
Parts Used: Leaf
Uses: Aromatic

Botanical Name: Artemtsia absinth.
Common Name: Wormwood
Religious Name: Mary's Tree
Growth: Perennial
Height: 48"
Parts Used: Leaf
Uses: Aromatic

Botanical Name: Artemlsla pontica
Common Name: Rom. Wormwood
Religious Name: Our Lady's Needle
Growth: Perennial
Height: 48"
Parts Used: Leaf
Uses: Aromatic

Botanical Name: Asperula odorata
Common Name: Sw. Woodruff
Religious Name: Our Lady's Bedstraw
Growth: Perennial
Height: 8"
Parts Used: Leaf
Uses: Aromatic, Teas

Botanical Name: Bellis perennis
Common Name: Engl. Daisy
Religious Name: Mary-Love
Growth: Biennial
Height: 8"
Parts Used: Leaf
Uses: Teas

Botanical Name: Borago officinalis
Common Name: Borage
Religious Name: St. Joseph's Staff
Growth: Annual
Height: 24"
Parts Used: Flower, Leaf 
Uses: Aromatic, Potherb, Salad Greens, Teas

Botanical Name: Calendula officin.
Common Name: Pot Marygold
Religious Name: Marygold
Growth: Annual
Height: 24"
Parts Used: Flower
Uses: Flavorings, Teas

Botanical Name: Chrysanth. balsamita
Common Name: Costmary
Religious Name: Our Lady's Balsam
Growth: Perennial
Height: 36"
Parts Used: Leaf
Uses: Aromatic, Flavorings, Teas

Botanical Name: Cichorlum intybus
Common Name: Chicory
Religious Name: Our Lady's Balsam
Growth: Perennial
Height: 72"
Parts Used: Flower, Root
Uses: Flavorings, Teas, Potherbs

Botanical Name: Coriandrum sativum
Common Name: Coriander
Religious Name: St. John's Head
Growth: Annual
Height: 36"
Parts Used: Leaf, Seed
Uses: Aromatic, Flavorings

Botanical Name: Crocus sativus
Common Name: Saffron Crocus
Religious Name: Saffron
Growth: Perennial
Height: 6"
Parts Used: Leaf
Uses: Aromatic, Flavorings, Teas

Botanical Name: Cummin cyanum
Common Name: Cumin
Religious Name: Cross-Cummin
Growth: Annual
Height: 6"
Parts Used: Seed
Uses: Aromatic, Flavorings

Botanical Name: Dianthus plumarius
Common Name: Clove Pink
Religious Name: Virgin Pink
Growth: Annual
Height: 18"
Parts Used: Root
Uses: Aromatic, Flavorings

Botanical Name: Foenlculum vulgare
Common Name: Fennel
Religious Name: Our Lady's Fennel
Growth: Annual, Perennial
Height: 60"
Parts Used: Leaf, Seed
Uses: Aromatic, Salad Greens, Flavorings, Teas

Botanical Name: Hierochloe odorata
Common Name: Holy Grass
Religious Name: Mary's Grass
Growth: Perennial
Height: 24"
Parts Used: Leaf
Uses: Aromatic, Flavorings

Botanical Name: Hypericum perforatm
Common Name: St. Johnswort
Religious Name: Jesus' Blood Drops
Growth: Perennial
Height: 24"
Parts Used: Leaf
Uses: Teas

Botanical Name: Hyssopos officinal.
Common Name: Hyssop
Religious Name: St. Joseph's Plant
Growth: Perennial
Height: 18"
Parts Used: Leaf
Uses: Salad Greens, Teas

Botanical Name: Inula helenium
Common Name: Elecampagne
Religious Name: Adam's Root
Growth: Perennial
Height: 72"
Parts Used: Root
Uses: Flavorings

Botanical Name: Iris florin., blue
Common Name: Orris Root
Religious Name: Madonna Iris
Growth: Perennial
Height: 18"
Parts Used: Root
Uses: Aromatic

Botanical Name: Laurus nobilis
Common Name: Sweet Bay
Religious Name: St. Bridget's Flower
Growth: T?
Height: 40"
Parts Used: Flower, Leaf, Seed
Uses: Aromatic, Teas

Botanical Name: Lavandula officin.
Common Name: Lavendar
Religious Name: Mary's Drying Plant
Growth: Shrub
Height: 36"
Parts Used: Flower, Leaf, Seed
Uses: Aromatic, Flavorings, Salad Greens

Botanical Name: Levisticum officin.
Common Name: Lovage
Religious Name: Our Lady's Duster
Growth: Perennial
Height: 72"
Parts Used: Leaf, Root, Seed
Uses: Flavorings

Botanical Name: Lilium candidum
Common Name: Madonna Lily
Religious Name: Mary Lily
Growth: Perennial
Height: 48"
Parts Used: Flower
Uses: Aromatic

Botanical Name: Majorana hortensis
Common Name: Sw.Marjoram
Religious Name: Mother-of-God's Fl
Growth: Annual, Perennial
Height: 24"
Parts Used: Leaf
Uses: Aromatic, Flavorings, Teas

Botanical Name: Malva sylvestris 
Common Name: Purp. Mallow
Religious Name: Our Lady's Cheese
Growth: Annual, Biennial
Height: 36"
Parts Used: Leaf, Root, Seed
Uses: Potherb

Botanical Name: Marrubium vulgare 
Common Name: Horehound
Religious Name: Mother-of-God's Tea
Growth: Perennial
Height: 36"
Parts Used: Leaf, Seed
Uses: Flavorings, Teas

Botanical Name: Matricaria chamom. 
Common Name: Gmn. Chamomile
Religious Name: Mary's Plant
Growth: Annual
Height: 24"
Parts Used: Flower (fi - what is i?)
Uses: Teas

Botanical Name: Medicago sativa 
Common Name: Alfalfa
Religious Name: Holy Hay
Growth: Perennial
Height: 36"
Parts Used: Leaf
Uses: Potherb, Teas

Botanical Name: Melissa officinalis 
Common Name: Lemon Balm
Religious Name: Sweet Mary
Growth: Perennial
Height: 21"
Parts Used: Leaf, Seed
Uses: Aromatic, Flavorings, Teas

Botanical Name: Mentha arvensis 
Common Name: Japanese Mint
Religious Name: Our Lady's Plant
Growth: Perennial
Height: 24"
Parts Used: Leaf
Uses: Aromatic, Flavorings, Teas

Botanical Name: Mentha crispa 
Common Name: Curly Mint
Religious Name: Cross-Mint
Growth: Perennial
Height: 36"
Parts Used: Leaf
Uses: Aromatic, Flavorings, Teas

Botanical Name: Mentha pulegium 
Common Name: Pennyroyal
Religious Name: Our Lady's Flavoring
Growth: Perennial
Height: 6"
Parts Used: Leaf
Uses: Aromatic, Flavorings, Teas

Botanical Name: Mentha requieni 
Common Name: Spanish Moss
Religious Name: Mother-of-Thousands
Growth: Perennial
Height: 2"
Parts Used: Leaf
Uses: Aromatic, Flavorings, Teas

Botanical Name: Mentha spicata 
Common Name: Spearmint
Religious Name: Mary's Mint
Growth: Perennial
Height: 24"
Parts Used: Leaf
Uses: Aromatic, Flavorings, Teas

Botanical Name: Monarda didyma 
Common Name: Bee-Balm
Religious Name: Sweet Mary
Growth: Perennial
Height: 36"
Parts Used: Flower, Leaf
Uses: Aromatic, Teas

Botanical Name: Myrrhis odorata 
Common Name: Sweet Cicely
Religious Name: St. Barbara's Grass
Growth: Perennial
Height: 36"
Parts Used: Leaf
Uses: Salad Greens

Botanical Name: Nepeta cataria 
Common Name: Catnip
Religious Name: Mary's Nettle
Growth: Perennial
Height: 36"
Parts Used: Leaf
Uses: Aromatic, Flavorings, Teas

Botanical Name: Ocimum basilicum 
Common Name: Basil
Religious Name: Holy Communion Plant
Growth: Annual
Height: 24"
Parts Used: Leaf, Seed
Uses: Aromatic, Flavorings, Teas

Botanical Name: Origanum vulgare 
Common Name: Pot Marjorum
Religious Name: Mary's Bedstraw
Growth: Perennial
Height: 30"
Parts Used: Leaf
Uses: Aromatic, Flavorings, Teas

Botanical Name: Paeonia officinalis 
Common Name: Peony
Religious Name: Mary's Rose
Growth: Perennial
Height: 36"
Parts Used: Seed
Uses: Flavorings

Botanical Name: Pelargonum lim. var. 
Common Name: Lemon Geranium
Religious Name: Lady Mary
Growth: Perennial
Height: 12"
Parts Used: Leaf
Uses: Aromatic

Botanical Name: Petrosolenium crisp. 
Common Name: Parsley
Religious Name: Our Lady's Little Vine
Growth: Biennial
Height: 36"
Parts Used: Leaf
Uses: Flavorings, Potherb, Salad Greens, Teas

Botanical Name: Pimpinella anisum 
Common Name: Anise
Religious Name: Our Lady's Sprig
Growth: Annual
Height: 8"
Parts Used: Flower, Leaf
Uses: Aromatic, Flavorings, Potherb, Teas

Botanical Name: Primula veris 
Common Name: Cowslip
Religious Name: Our Lady's Keys
Growth: Perennial
Height: 8"
Parts Used: Flower, Leaf
Uses: Potherb, Salad Greens, Teas

Botanical Name: Primula vulgaris 
Common Name: Primrose
Religious Name: Our Lady's Frills
Growth: Perennial
Height: 6"
Parts Used: Flower, Leaf
Uses: Potherb, Salad Greens

Botanical Name: Rosa centifolia 
Common Name: Cabbage Rose
Religious Name: The Virgin's Rose
Growth: Perennial
Height: 72"
Parts Used: Flower, Leaf
Uses: Aromatic, Flavorings, Teas

Botanical Name: Rosmarinus officin. 
Common Name: Rosemary
Religious Name: Mary's Nosegay
Growth: Shrub
Height: 72"
Parts Used: Flower, Leaf, Seed
Uses: Aromatic, Flavorings, Teas

Botanical Name: Rumex acetosella
Common Name: Sorrell
Religious Name: M. Bitter Sorrow
Growth: Perennial
Height: 36"
Parts Used: Leaf
Uses: Aromatic

Botanical Name: Ruta graveolens
Common Name: Rue
Religious Name: Herb O'Grace
Growth: Perennial
Height: 36"
Parts Used: Leaf
Uses: Flavorings

Botanical Name: Salvia officinalis
Common Name: Sage
Religious Name: Mary's Shawl
Growth: Perennial
Height: 36"
Parts Used: Leaf
Uses: Aromatic, Flavorings, Teas

Botanical Name: Salvia sclarea
Common Name: Clary
Religious Name: Christ's Eye
Growth: Biennial
Height: 36"
Parts Used: Leaf
Uses: Aromatic, Flavorings

Botanical Name: Sanguisorba minor
Common Name: Burnet
Religious Name: St. Anthony's Button
Growth: Shrub
Height: 12"
Parts Used: Leaf
Uses: Flavorings, Teas

Botanical Name: Satureja hortensis
Common Name: Sum. Savory
Religious Name: St. Joseph's Flower
Growth: Annual
Height: 12"
Parts Used: Leaf
Uses: Aromatic, Flavorings

Botanical Name: Symphytum officinal.
Common Name: Comfrey
Religious Name: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob
Growth: Perennial
Height: 36"
Parts Used: Leaf
Uses: Teas

Botanical Name: Tagetes lucida
Common Name: Sweet M. Gold
Religious Name: Mary's Flower
Growth: Annual
Height: 18"
Parts Used: Flower
Uses: Aromatic

Botanical Name: Tanacetum vulgare
Common Name: Tansy
Religious Name: Jesus-Wort
Growth: Perennial
Height: 36"
Parts Used: Flower, Leaf
Uses: Flavorings

Botanical Name: Taraxicum officin.
Common Name: Dandelion
Religious Name: (M. BitterSorrow)
Growth: Perennial
Height: 8"
Parts Used: Leaf
Uses: Flavorings, Potherb, Teas

Botanical Name: Thymus serphyllum
Common Name: Creeping Thyme
Religious Name: Mary's Bedstraw
Growth: Shrub
Height: 5"
Parts Used: Leaf
Uses: Aromatic, Flavorings, Teas

Botanical Name: Thymus vulgaris
Common Name: Thyme
Religious Name: The Virgin's Humility
Growth: Shrub
Height: 8"
Parts Used: Leaf
Uses: Aromatic, Flavorings, Teas

Botanical Name: Viola odorata
Common Name: Sweet Violet
Religious Name: Our Lady's Modesty
Growth: Perennial
Height: 6"
Parts Used: Flower
Uses: Aromatic, Flavorings

Botanical Name: Viola tricolor
Common Name: Wild Pansy
Religious Name: Our Lady's Delight
Growth: Annual, Biennial
Height: 8"
Parts Used: Flower, Leaf
Uses: Teas


Copyright Mary's Gardens 1965, 1996

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The John Stokes and Mary's Garden collection was transferred to the Marian Library in May 2013. In addition to his archives, manuscripts, artwork, and personal library, John S. Stokes also donated his extensive website. It was transferred to the Marian Library in 2010. This particular entry is archived content original to Stokes' Mary's Gardens website. It is possible that some text, hyperlinks, etc. are outdated.

Dislcaimer: The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute does not make any warranties as to the safety of consuming any wild foods and accept no liability or responsibility for any consequences resulting from the use of or reliance upon the information contained herein, nor for any health problems, consequences or symptoms which may arise from contact with or the ingestion of any plant herein described. Any person who ingests the plants mentioned puts themselves into direct or indirect contact with it for any reason, does so at their own risk. 

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