Colchicum sp., 16th century illustration

Colchicum sp., 16th century illustration

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Credit: BRITISH LIBRARY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Meadow saffron. 16th century Italian illustration of meadow saffron or autumn crocus (Colchicum sp.), by Gherardo Cibo, 1568. Plants of this genus are poisonous but contain the alkaloid colchicine which is used to treat gout. This plate is taken from Discorsi on Dioscorides' De Materia Medica by Pietro Andrea Mattioli, a work of herbal medicine first published in Italy in 1554. Pietro Andrea Mattioli (1501-1577) was an Italian doctor and naturalist who wrote commentaries on De Materia Medica , an encyclopaedia of herbal medicine by the first century Greek physician and botanist Dioscorides.

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