He grew potatoes in his garden.
At that time they were considered a great delicacy and only the rich could afford them. There was a folk belief that goose barnacles Lepas anatifera began life as growths that appeared on logs floating in the sea, so they were plants, and that as they grew they changed into barnacle geese Branta leucopsis.
Gerard described what he believed to be the tree that produces barnacles. It was a persistent myth.
Gerald of Wales ca. He sent an expedition to northern Europe to check the story, which he thought dubious. Frederick's envoys returned with barnacles clinging to rotten wood, but these were quite unlike any bird. Albert the Great performed an even more thorough test.
With some friends, Albert bred a barnacle goose with a farmyard goose and found the resulting eggs hatched into perfectly ordinary goslings, establishing beyond doubt that barnacle geese reproduce in exactly the same way as other geese. Nevertheless, the belief was a long time dying, and Gerard helped prolong its decline.
Gerard's work appeared in with the title The herball, or, Generall historie of plantes gathered by John Gerarde of London, master in chirurgerie. It had three volumes.
Volume 1 covered grasses, rushes, reeds, cereal grains, irises, and bulbs all of which are monocotyledons. Volume 2 described plants valued for food, medicine, or their sweet smell.
Volume 3 dealt with roses, trees, bushes, shrubs, plants grown for their fruit, plants producing gum and resin, heaths and heathers, mosses, and fungi. The work also had an index. Thomas Johnson, a London apothecary, corrected and expanded Gerard's work, publishing the result as a second edition in This was reprinted in John Gerard was born in Nantwich, Cheshire, in While doing so, his gardeners supposedly tasted one of the large, underground tubers and thus discovered, very much by accident, the culinary value of the plant.
For many years, the potato was considered a delicacy to be enjoyed only by the rich.
Not until the early s did the potato finally become a staple in the European diet. Gerard recommended foxglove as an expectorant:.
Fox-glove boiled in water or wine, and drunken, doth cut and consume the thick toughnesse of grosse and slimie flegme and naughty humours; it openeth also the stopping of the liver, spleene, and milt, and of other inward parts. Gentian was named in honor of King Gentius of Illyria B. Ancient and medieval physicians recommended Gentian primarily as an antidote to poison.
Legend and superstition surround the mandrake. The root of the mandrake has a peculiar shape, sometimes resembling human legs or arms, or even a complete body.
Many people believed that the mandrake root screamed as it was pulled from the ground. To dig up the mandrake and hear its cries meant certain death, so ancient herbalists instructed people to tie a dog to the mandrake and force the animal to pull it up, thereby killing the dog but saving themselves. Having safely planted and replanted many mandrakes, Gerard condemned the fantastic tales.