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Pernese Herbs A-Z

H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P
A-G | Q-Z


Hop - This herbacious twining herb has large toothed leaves with three to five lobes and flowers which give off the distinctive scent of beer. Hop grows up to 20ft (6m) in hedges and scrub.
Since Medieval times on Old Earth, the ripe female inflorescences ("strobiles") of hop have been added to beer to flavor, clarify and preserve it. Hop should be avoided during depression. The tea is a nerve tonic, a muscle relaxant, and a mild sedative, making it a decent anodyne for minor pains. It has a high estrogen content which increases lactation and is an anaphrodisiac for men. The essential oil is used in perfumes and lotions.

Hyssop - A semievergreen shrub or subshrub with spikes of blue, two-lipped, late-summer flowers and aromatic leaves. Varieties are pink, purple, and white. Hyssop grows up to 5ft (1.5m) in well-drained, sunny sites.
A leaf infusion is taken as a sedative expectorant for flu, bronchitis, and phlegm. A leaf poultice treats wounds and bruises. The leaves have a sharp flavor and are added to liqueurs and sweet and savory dishes. They also aid in the digestion of fatty acids. A mold that produces penicillin grows on these same leaves (but whether the Pernese know about this or not is not recorded by Ms. McCaffery, unfortunately).


Ilex - (Nehsomeh's remark: "Ilex" is part of the scientific name of holly plants. It is my guess that the use of the species name indicates the presence of more than one variety, therefore I will discuss all mentioned in my references.)
Ilex vomitoria is an evergreen shrub with white flowers, scarlet fruits, and glossy, scalloped leaves. It grows up to 20ft (6m) in moist, well-drained soils.
The narcotic leaves are brewed for a stimulant emetic called black drink. The berries also cause vomiting and have been used as an emergency treatment for poisoning. The leaves of several Ilex species yeild caffiene drinks used as tea. Ilex guayusa is the source of guayusa, a stimulant tea. I. paraguarensis gives Yerba Mat´┐Ż, a tonic, laxative, diuretic, and muscle relaxant that reduces appetite and is said to increase intellectual vigor.
I. aquifolium, the one commonly known as holly on Old Earth, does not yield a stimulant tea, but infused leaves treat colds and coughs. The berries are toxic.


Lavender - There are twenty-eight species of these aromatic, evergreen, shrubby perenials, many of which may survive on Pern. All have small, linear leaves and spikes of fragrant, usually purple or blue, two-lipped flowers. They average 22in (56cm) in sunny spots in warm, temperate regions.
Aromatic oil glands cover all aerial parts but are most concentrated in the flowers. The flowers flavor jams, vinegar, sweets, cream, and Provencal stews, and are crystalized for decoration. Dried flowers add long-lasting fragrance to sachets and potpourri. Flower water is a skin toner useful for speeding cell renewal and is an antiseptic for acne. Flower tea treats anxiety, headaches, flatulence, nausea, dizziness, and halitosis. The essential oil is a highly valued perfume and healer. It is antiseptic, mildly sedative, and painkilling. It is applied to insect bites and treats burns, sore throats, and headaches. It also treats rheumatic aches, high blood pressure, insomnia, depression, lymphatic congestion, menstrual problems, and poor digestion.

Lemongrass - An aromatic grass with clumped, bulbous stems becoming long, ble-green leaf blades and a branched panicle of flowers. Sliced, fresh stalks show concentric, sheathed leaves. It grows up to 5ft (1.5m) in open, tropical habitats in dry soil.
The stem and leaf have a distinct lemon flavor with the lower 4-6 inches being the most succulent. Lemongrass has been used to kill viruses and bacteria, as well as being a digestive tonic and a diuretic. Externally, it reduces muscle soreness, tendonitis, backaches, and rheumatism pain, and as an insect repellent. Leaf tea treats diarrhea, stomachache, headaches, fevers, and flu, and is antiseptic.
For tendonitis, lemongrass is best used as a topical application. A poultice can be applied directly to the inflamed area. The essential oil added to hot bath water can be used for overall tendon, muscle, or other structural system-related soreness. It can also be added to a massage lotion and rubbed into the inflamed area.

Lemon verbena - A shrub with strongly lemon-scented whorls of three or four long, pointed, rough-textured leaves along its stems and panicles of tiny, loose-clustered white and pale purple summer flowers. It grows up to 10ft (3m) in frost-free, well-drained areas.
The leaves are used to flavor drinks and fruit and sweet dishes, and to make herb tea. The tea is refreshing and mildly sedative; it soothes bronchial and nasal congestion and eases indigestion and nausea. The leaves yeild a green coloring and an essential oil used in perfumes and bath lotions. A leaf infusion soothes puffy eyes and, as a floral vinegar, it softens the skin. Sprigs are used to scent potpourri.

Lovage - A perennial with large, dark glossy green, celery-scented compound leaves and ridged, hollow stems. Umbels of greenish yellow flowers appear from mid to late summer. The root is aromatic and white-fleshed. Lovage grows up to 6.5ft (2m) in moist soil.
The leaves give body and aroma to soup and stews. The root is grated raw into salads, pickled, or powdered as a condiment. The aromatic seeds are sprinkled on bread and rice, steeped in brandy for a settling digestive, and used in perfumery. An infusion of seedsm leaves, or roots reduces water retension and assists the elimination of toxins, making lovage a deodorizing, slimming herb. The expectorant root treats mouth ulcers, tonsillitis, bronchitis, cystitis, and menstrual pain. It may also be sedative and anticonvulsant.
Should be avoided in pregnancy and by those with kidney problems.


Mango - A fast-growing tree with large panicles of fragrant, greenish white flowers and one or two crops of large, musk-scented fruits per Turn. The fruits have tough yellow, red, or green skin with aromatic, pinkish yellow flesh inside. The long, pointed, evergreen leaves are toxic. Mango trees grow up to 100ft (30m) in rich, well-drained soil.
Mango fruits are eaten raw, candied, or pickled. The unripe fruits are prized sour flavorings. The bark may be used to treat internal bleeding, dysentery, and throat disease. Leaf ash is used externally for burns. The unripe fruits, peel, seeds, flowers, and resin have medicinal uses.
A secret recipe for artists' paint used the urine of cows fed on toxic mango leaves.

Meadowsweet - Meadowsweet grows upright stems of wintergreen-scented, divided leaves, topped by fluffy corymbs of almond-scented cream colored flowers. It grows up to 6.5ft (2m) in fertile, waterside soils.
The flowers may be used to give an almond flavour to mead, herb wines, jam, and stewed fruit. The dried flowers are used to scent linens and also give an astringent skin tonic, and the leaves give a hay scent when dry. Flower buds contain salicylic acid, from which aspirin was synthesized on old Earth, but the herb as a whole is gentler on the stomach. The flower tea is used to ease headaches and stomach ulcers, as an antiseptic diuretic, and for diarrhea, feverish colds, and heartburn. Its mild painkilling and antiiflamatory action treats rheumatism.
The roots yeild a black dye, the leaf and stem a blue dye, and the flowering tops a greenish-yellow dye.

Mints - See peppermint, spearmint.

Mosstea - An herb used to pack wounds against infection. It can also be infused to make a soothing tea. (Neshomeh's remark: This reminds me a bit of garden sphagnum moss, though sphagnum doesn't make tea. It is a springy, bright green moss covered with narrow leaves. The stems are hollow tubes, which make a fine sponge when dried out. Garden sphagnum is is light and absorbent; it contains preservatives, an antibiotic, and possibly iodine. Bog sphagnum is also used to dress wounds and aid healing.)

Mugwort - An aromatic perennial with medium-green leaves, once- or twice-lobed with lanceate segments and silver, downy undersides. The stems are tall, angular, and reddish or purplish. The florets are red-brown. The roots are about eight inches long, woody, light brown externally and whitish internally. The plant grows up to 8ft (2.5m) tall, in hedges and waysides, especially in Crom.
The leaves and root, given as an infusion, are primarily used to regulate menstruation. It is generally avoided during pregnancy, but may be given for excess fetal activity and postpartum cramps. The silvery down, separated from the leaves, is rolled into cones and used in heat treatment of rheumatism and gout. (The cones are placed on the patient's skin and allowed to burn down.) The leaves are also used as a culinary herb, in stuffing.


Needlethorn - This succulent bush will shoot its hollow, toxic spines at anything that disturbs it during its growing season. When the flowers of the ging tree open (needlethorn and ging are always found growing together), the plant has fallen into its dormant stage, and the needles can be gathered without danger. The barbless needles are strong enough to be used with a syringe for giving intravenous and subcutaneous injections or for drawing blood.

Nettleweed - A Pernese variation of stinging nettle. The leaves of nettles are serrated and covered in stinging hairs, which contain histamine. The plant has tiny flowers in the summer. Nettles grow up to 5ft (1.5m) in damp, fertile soil; moist woodland.
Young leaves and shoots are cooked as greens and brewed for an iron-rich tonic tea for anemia. The plant is diuretic, digestive, and astringent, stimulates circulation, and clears uric acid, relieving arthritis, gout, and eczema. The seeds can be given for tuberculosis and to treat the lungs after bronchitis.
Heating or drying the leaves removes the sting.

Numbweed - The gray-green plants sprout tufts of blossoms like statice and grow in plenty in jungle areas.
Very early on, it was noticed that injured dragonets bruised the leaves of a twiggy, sagelike shrub with their snouts or claws and rubbed their wounds against the sap that oozed out of the plump, sagittate leaves. Touching the sap caused total numbness at the contact site. The colonists quickly learned to imitate their dragonets and use the sap to deaden the pain of Threadscore.

Numbweed is always used in its salve form. All healers carry it with them and
therefore no occasion should arise where a healer would need to use the raw form of the plant. It is an external medicine only, and is never given internally. There is only one excuse for the existence of this malodorous plant, and that is the deadening of pain; therefore, its liberal use for this reason is encouraged. It is non-addictive, and in its salve form presents no danger of overdosing.


Oat - An annual grass with upright stems, bladelike leaves, and loose panicles of spikelets made of three florets which form grain. Oats grow up to 39in (1m) in cool, moist areas.
Oats, rich in vitamin E, minerals, and protien, are a food tonic for the heart, nerves, and thymus gland. The dried stems, called oatstraw, are rich in calcium. Oat bran, available in bread, helps reduce cholesterol and is an excellent fiber supplement. A decoction of the ripe plant treats depression, menopausal estrogen deficiency, persistent colds, and the debility of shingles and muscular sclerosis. Rolled oats make oatmeal. Fine oatmeal is an exfoliating body rub and a soothing wash for dry skin and eczema.


Parsley - A taprooted biennial with solid stems of triangular, toothed, and curled leaves divided into three segments, umbels of tiny cream summer flowers, and aromatic "seeds." Parsley grows up to 32in (80cm) in rich, moist soil with sun or light shade.
Vitamin- and mineral-rich leaves and stems are added to salads and savory dishes. The fresh leaves are rich in magnesium, chlorophyll, and calcium. Parsley is eaten to freshen breath. Leaf infusions are a tonic for hair, skin, and eyes. The leaves are sometimes eaten as a vegetable. The root is used in soups and stews. The leaves, root, and seeds are diuretic, scavenge skin-aging free radicals, and reduce the release of histamine. They relieve rheumatism, aid digestion, and tone uterine muscles after birth. Leaf poultices sooth sprains and cuts.

Peppermint - Most mints, including the best known spearmint and peppermint, are creeping plants that hybridize easily, producing infinite variations. They have erect, square, branching stems, aromatic foliage, and flowers in leaf axils. Mints grow up to 47in (120cm) in rich soils, sun, and moisture.
Peppermint has an amazing variety of uses. It flavors sauces, vinegar, vegetables, desserts, and julep, and is crystallized. It flavors candy, drinks, toothpastes, and medicines. The leaf tea aids digestion and reduces flatulence. The oil has a mild anesthetic action and a cool, refreshing taste. A topical application at the temples alleviates migraines and headaches. A dab on the tongue eases stomachaches, heartburn, and indigestion symptoms; it can be rubbed onto a sore gum to ease toothache pain. For fevers, a few drops can be added to a wet washcloth and applied to the forehead. Peppermint has antiseptic, antiparasitic, antiviral, and sweat-inducing properties. It is included in ointments and cold remedies. In an inhalation the essential oil treats shock and nausea and improves concentration.
Keep in mind that because peppermint belongs to the mint family, it is very strong--and the essential oil is stronger. Make sure to dilute the oil before applying it to individuals with sensitive skin.

Pineapple - Pineapple is a perennial that is planted in the ground. It has a dense rosette of rigid, linear leaves, allowing it to make maximum use of rainwater, and a conical spikelet of violet-red flowers with yellow bracts. The channeled leaves are dark green with a paler reverse side and have spiny margins. The skin of the large pineapple fruit is spiney with juicy, seedless yellow flesh inside. The terminal crown, or coma, consists of 20-30 leaves and may be rooted for pineapple propagation. Pineapple grows up to 39in (1m) in lowland tropics.
A popular tropical fruit, it has a high sugar content and is rich in vitamins A, B, and C. The flesh is eaten raw, cooked, battered, jellied, candied, juiced, or made into alcohol. New shoots are added to curries, waste is made into vinegar or fed to livestock, and the flesh is used in facial masks as the enzymes digest dead skin. A warm leaf infusion may be given for gossamer spinner (spider) bites. The fruit helps menstrual, urinary, and digestive problems, beri-beri, worms, and nervous exhaustion. The skin is sometimes infused in water for a refreshing drink. Plant enzymes reduce swelling, intensify antibiotics, and break down the fibrin protien that causes heart attacks and strokes.
The fruit can irritate the mouth if too much is eaten and aggravate skin rashes.

Pink root - Pink root, also known as starbloom, has several smooth simple stems arising from the same rhizome; these stems are rounded below and square above. The rhizome is tortuous, knotty and dark-brown externally, with many thin, wiry motlets attached to it and the short branches on the upper side are marked with scars of the stems of former years; internally, the rhizome is whitish, with a dark brown pith; the rootlets are lighter colored than the rhizome, thin, brittle and long. It has an aromatic odor and a bitter, sweetish, pungent and somewhat nauseous taste. It is usually powdered and then is of a greyish colour. Age impairs its strength. The flowers are borne in a brilliant red-pink spike at top of the stem, the long corollas (terminating in spreading, star-like petals), externally red, yellow within, surrounding a double, many-seeded capsule. It grows in rich, dry soils on the edges of woods and flowers from May to July. The entire plant is collected in autumn and dried.
Its chief use is as a very active and certain vermifuge, most potent for tapeworm and specially so for the round worm. It is a safe and efficient drug to give to children, if administered in proper doses and always followed by a saline aperient, such as magnesium sulphate, otherwise unpleasant and serious symptoms may occur, such as disturbed vision, dizziness, muscular spasms, twitching eyelids, increased action of the heart. In large doses, these are increased, both circulation and respiration being depressed and loss of muscular power caused, and cases have been known resulting, in children, in death from convulsions. It is also useful for children's fevers not caused by the irritation of vermin, such as those occurring from hydrocephalus.

Plum - Like all members of the genus prunus, plum trees have attractive flowers and bear finely toothed deciduous leaves and single-stoned fruits. Plum has white, five-petaled spring flowers and sweet, juicy autumn fruits. The fruits are yellow, purple, red, or blue. Dried fruits are called prunes. The flat stone contains a white seed. The leaves are matte green. Prunus species grow in temperate, mountainous woodland. Plum trees grow up to 40ft (12m).
The sweet fruits are eaten fresh, dried, or as jam. The dried fruits and fruit juice are given for their laxative effect. The seeds are ground and added to facial masks.


Sources for this page were:

Bremness, Lesley. Herbs. Great Britain: Dorling Kindersley Ltd., 1994.

Dragonsfire - Herbs. June 2004.
Featherfern, glovecap.

Greive, Mrs. M. - A Modern Herbal. August 2004.
Abscess root (Sweatroot), cinquefoil, pink root.

Menai. All the Plants of Pern. June 2004.

Nye, Jodie Lyn (with Anne McCaffrey). The Dragonlover's Guide to Pern, second edition. New York: Ballantine Books, 1997. 15-16, 85-89, 111, 136.

P'ter. Igen Weyr: Herbs and Medicines. September 1999.
Fellis, numbweed.

Shortman, Jared R. The White-thorn Acacia: Tough and Underused., July 1999.

Wolfe, Frankie Avalon. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Herbal Remedies. USA: Alpha Books, 1999-2001.

All pictures are by Neshomeh (Eleanor R.)

All references to worlds and characters based on Anne McCaffrey's fiction are copyright ©
Anne McCaffrey 1967, 2001, all rights reserved, and used by permission of the author.