Physic Garden

Plants grown by monks for medicinal purposes

This newly created garden has been designed by Jill Stewart following the Chichele Design Project with Moulton College. It contains plants grown by monks for medicinal purposes. It must be noted that some of these plants may have killed rather than cured and we cannot take any responsibilty for their adverse effects.


Anthirscus Sylvestris (Cow parsley) – is said to get rid of stones and gravel in the gall bladder and kidneys but very little research has been done on the common plant. It has been used by amateur dyers for obtaining a green or yellow dye depending on which mordents are used. However, it is not permanent.

Geranium sylvaticum – high in tannin so used for digestive disorders and for the treatment of diarrhoea

Aquilegia Vulgaris (Columbine) – poisonous, crushed seeds were used to kill lice

Helleborus Foetidus - although thought to have physic qualities this plant is highly toxic

Borago oficinalis – many uses; relief for colic, cramps, asthma, bronchitis, cardiovascular and urinary disorders

Helleborus Niger (Christmas Rose) - poisonous – the roots of all hellebores are likely to kill if eaten

Campanula glomerata (bellflower) – mainly decorative but used in Russian remedies

Hypericum perforatum (St John’s Wort) –used as an antidepressant and wound healer

Centaurea cyanus (cornflower) – used in the past as a soother for sore eyes, bruises, bleeding and fevers

Knautia arvensis (field scabia) – used as an ointment for sores and also taken to ease coughs

Centranthus rubra (valerian) – used as a wound healer for cuts. It has a sedative effect and is used for treating insomnia

Oreganum vulgare (Oregano) – used in the treatment of respiratory, gastrointestinal and urinary tract disorders

Corncockle – seeds have been used for treating cancers, hard tumours, warts and apostemes (hard swellings in the uterus)

Rosemary – used as a stimulant for the nervous system, eases rheumatic pain and antiseptic gargle or mouthwash

Chrysanthemum segetum (corn marigold) – healing wounds

Salvia sclarea (clary sage) – distilled into oil used in aromatherapy and to help insomnia

Daphne laureola (spurge laurel) – poisonous – used as an ointment for ulcers

Scabiosa columaria – used as a lotion to heal wounds

Daphne mezereum rubra (laurel) – used in the past for treating rheumatism and ulcers but no longer considered to be safe

Tanacetum vulgare (Tansy) – used to treat intestinal worms, rheumatism, fevers and sores

Digitalis purpurea (foxglove) – poisonous – widely used in drugs for heart disorders

Teucrium chamaedrys (wall germanda) – used in the past for weak stomachs and loss of appetite but now known to cause liver damage

Genista tinctoria ( dyers greenweed) – various uses including treating skin diseases

Verbascum blatteria – used as a cockroach repellent

Geranium pratense (meadow cranesbill) – many uses; relief from colic, cramps, asthma, bronchitis, cardiovascular and urinary disorders

Verbascum nigrum – used in the past for the treatment of respiratory complaints but now considered dangerous

Geranium sanguinium – used to treat wounds and stop bleeding