Worldbuilding Wednesday 12/9/20: Healing Herbs

Page from a 16th century German book on herblore depicting a plant with an animal-like root

It’s common in fantasy books for characters to be wounded, and commoner still for said characters to experience miraculous cures from native plants. Sometimes these are authentic, like those in the Brother Cadfael series of historical mysteries. Others are fictional. Stephen Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant series had hurtloam, Tolkien had athelas, Narnia had the juice of the berries of the sun, held in Lucy’s diamond vial. There are more, I’m sure.

What a writer doesn’t want to do is mix up fictional ingredients with a real-world setting, as John Boyne did in his novel A Traveler at the Gates of Wisdom. In a passage about dyeing a dress, a historical character uses ingredients from the video game Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: the tail of the red lizalfos and four Hylian shrooms. Luckily, the author was a good egg about it and promised to change it in the next edition.

If you’re looking for something that sounds impressive, but has nothing to do with Hyrule or any other video game, here’s some randomgenned suggestions.


Herbal Remedies

Balm of Curly-leaf Frogstongue, stirred fifty times with a wooden spoon

Essence of Sweethazel picked at midnight

Brew of Ostrichwort, left to ferment for 20 days

Oil of Harespike and Purse-of-Cream

Tincture of Mouselip root

Tea of Everblooming Earthenlung (may cause hallucinations)

Hairy Owlfoot tea, an expectorate

Distillation of Marshbane and Monkeyglove

Sunclub blossoms, reduces fever and promotes a deep sleep

Infusion of Evening Marswhoot, acts as a stimulant and increases appetite

Kittencap pollen, soothes a burn

Oil of Monksthorn

A strong brew of Mammaw and Moonpimple

Oil of Buttershoe mashed with Pink Proudberry stems

Fragrant Toadwill stems and flowers, calms nerves and promotes virility

Odious extraction of Flytouch

Infusion of Foxnettle Bark

Balm of Devil’s Cream

Solution of Cat’s Butter prepared with a wizard’s whisk

Distillation of crushed Sparrow’s Toe

Tisane of purple Kis-willow buds blessed by a holy man


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