hist-brewing: Ledum Palustre Found!

Wade Hutchison whutchis at bucknell.edu
Wed Apr 5 07:11:24 PDT 2000

I'm not the one who questioned Mr. Buhner's research, but I would like
to see some more information on why he believes that the references
to 'rosemary' in gruit descriptions refers to Ledum palustre and
not Rosmarinus officinalis.  What we have here is, in fact, a nomenclature
problem.  The biggest problem I have is in books like Digby, where
he mentions putting 'rosemary' in beverages (Mr. Webb's Ale and Braggot)
and 'rosemary' in culinary recipes as well - how are we supposed to
know that he means different rosemary, if in fact he does?  Inquiring
minds want to know, and all that.

At 12:28 AM 4/5/2000, you wrote:
>Some quick responses to your queries:
>First, to say that Stephen Buhner is "far from a reliable source" is an
>unfair and uninformed dismissal of some excellent scholarship.  If someone
>wants to question his conclusions, specifics must be cited.
>Second, your question points out the need for careful use of nomenclature.
>Ledum palustre is a plant of the rhododendron family native to northern
>Europe; Rosmarinus officinalis is a plant of the mint family native to
>southern Europe.  They are in no way similar except for aroma.  No one with
>the slightest knowledge of botany would confuse these two plants.  Common
>names are a dreadful source of confusion and they should be avoided by
>anyone who really wants to know which plant is which.
>-Tom Stevenson


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