Together with encyclopedias, herbals were the primary means of categorizing plants before the botanist Linnaeus developed his taxonomy of species in 1753. Yet herbals were not field guides but pharmaceutical texts, collections of recipes for "simples," medicines made with a single ingredient. Each entry in an herbal discusses one kind of plant and the simples that could be made from it. The illustration above shows an entry for Cameleia, (Wild Teasel) thought to be a remedy for snakebite.
herbals, Linnaeus, Cameleia