Welcome to Herbology 301

My name is Matthew Aspen, or Professor Aspen for short, and I am glad to give you all a very warm welcome to this course. My PAs and myself expect great things from you, so we are eager to see you all "grow" in the greenhouses. However, we would like you to read the following information about the course before enrolling in it:

1-Whenever you submit an assignment, it goes to our queue. We usually grade them quickly, but sometimes this is not possible due to many factors. That is why we would like you to be patient and rest assure that your assignments will be graded shortly.

2-The Herbology Team is more than happy to receive your questions about the course. Please do so in a formal and respectful manner, and your queries will be answered quickly.

3-Even though we are professionals and enjoy what we do, we are also prone to make mistakes. If you believe that an assignment has not been fairly graded, please send Professor Aspen or Michelle Spookiieej (Head Girl) an owl as soon as possible, outlining your reasons why you believe so, together with the ID number of your assignment. Remember that appeals are evaluated and they can have positive or negative replies, meaning that your grade might change for good or for bad. Bear this in mind when you contact me about such topic.

4-All assignments can be retaken if you get less than 70% in them.

5-All assignments for HERB301 now have a short sentence in colour to indicate if the assignment can be resubmitted or not.

Lesson 1) Herbology, Healing, and History

Year Three, Lesson One 
A Helping Herb

Hello, students! I’m glad to see you all back to join me in Year Three of Herbology. Over the last few years, we have been building up your knowledge of the basics: safety concerns, basic definitions, as well as how to care for your plants. Now that we have the easy stuff out of the way, we can start to open ourselves up to more complicated plants and possibilities. In the next few years, we will be exploring how herbology intertwines with various professions and honing those skills a bit, starting this year with a look at various methods of healing. Should you have no desire to go into any of these professions, never fear! We will be covering the material as a sort of precursor, and all of the knowledge and information included is still useful for the average witch or wizard. 

Explanations and Expectations
This year, we will be focusing on plants that have been highlighted for healing. Obviously, you will have noted that nearly every plant we’ve gone over so far has some use in healing, so those chosen for this year offer a bit more than your average potion ingredients. Specifically, we will be focusing on herbs that have a historic use and a good deal of tradition behind them, as well as some plants with newly discovered properties. As we will talk about next week, different regions of the world utilize different plants in medicine, and because of this, we will be covering multiple regions of the world in order to get a varied look at healing herbs. 

Our year will begin with some background and history, and the following weeks we will talk about the theory behind different treatments as well as regulations and safety concerns that are crucial to this topic. Then, we will be touring the world and examining some of the healing practices of various countries and continents (naturally also covering some example plants). Finally, we will end with an interesting look at how herbs help Muggles, though it might not be in the way you expect. Below, you can find a syllabus with a bit more detail.

Year Three Syllabus




Lesson One

Herbology, Healing, and History

-Expectations of Year

-History of Healing with Herbology

-Jade Vine

Lesson Two

Dangerous Doses

-Reasons for Different Practices


-Safety Concerns


Lesson Three

Teas, Tinctures, and Tonics

-Different Kinds of Herbal Preparations

-Borage, Peppermint, Thyme, Colwort

Lesson Four

In Our Own Backyard

-European Herbology and Healing

-Bubotuber, Dittany, Mistletoe

Lesson Five

American Antidotes

-North American Herbology and Healing

-Angelica, Mesquite, Rat Root, Sage

Lesson Six

Eastern Elixirs

-Asian Herbology and Healing

-Aconite, Banyan, Rhubarb, Turmeric

Lesson Seven

Rainforest Remedies

-South American Herbology and Healing

-Andean Mint, Cacao, Coiling Trees, Ipecac

Lesson Eight

The Bush

-Australian Herbology and Healing

-Burrowing Bush, Emu Bush, Eucalyptus, Lemon Grass

Lesson Nine

A Cautionary Tale

-Herbs in Literature

-How We Help Muggles

-Venomous Tentacula, Raskovnik, Fern Flower, Lotus

History of Healing with Herbology
Before the International Statute of Secrecy was enacted, a large percentage of those who worked in the medical trade were from a wizarding background. Whether it was exorcists in Ancient Mesopotamia, healers in Europe, shamans in Africa, or medicine women in North America, herbs have always played a great part in healing. This is, in part, evidenced by the abundance of plants around the world that have been discovered to have magical and medicinal uses. There are spells, creatures, and potions used in this area as well, but healing and herbology are unavoidably linked.

As you might have guessed from the brief mention of Ancient Mesopotamia, healing with plants (and the study of those plants, i.e. herbology) has been around for thousands of years. This -- healing with herbology --  is something I was very interested in during my time studying at Hogwarts. Throughout history, cultures all over the world found ways to heal, help, and cure with plants they found growing along their streams and in their forests. In Ancient Mesopotamia, the study of plants’ uses dates back roughly 5,000 years. In the Far East, plants were used in various forms of medicine as early as 4000 B.C.E. (or 6,000 years ago), and the story is much the same all over the world. 

Throughout the millennia, herbology has grown and adapted, changing with the evolution of plants, people, and culture. Today, in the magical world, it still holds significant prominence, though its importance and common use differ from region to region. At the very least, Herbology is a core course here at one of the most prominent magical institutions in Europe, and is taught via comparative courses at each of the eleven most prestigious magical schools in the world, recognized by the International Confederation of Wizards.

Now, I don’t want to get into too much detail about ancient practices of specific regions, as we will be studying that in due time, but I will talk about why we want to cover so many different areas. Naturally -- pun intended -- different plants grow in different areas. While to date we have mostly covered very hardy plants that can adapt to grow in different places, there are many plants that can only grow in the Mediterranean, only in the taiga of Siberia, or only in underwater caves in Switzerland. This was particularly limiting in ancient times, as travel and communication were significantly more constrained than they are now. Remember that back in the day of Pythagoras, around 500 B.C.E, Apparition was not a commonly-practiced or known skill. Broomsticks were in the very early stages of development and not nearly as dependable as they are now, and the Floo Network had not even been conceived of yet. If a plant didn’t grow in your immediate area, you didn’t know about it. Because of this, as you should remember from History of Magic, many different kinds of potions and spells existed, though these were eventually spread across the world with time, collaboration, and increased travel and communication. The uses of plants are no different. There exist multiple plants that treat the same illness because people in different areas -- sometimes even of the same country -- needed to experiment with what was available around them. The good news for us is that we now have a wealth of information to draw from, and rather than having only one plant that is effective for treating kidney stones, we have several, should one or the other prove unavailable or otherwise unusable in a certain situation. 

Finally, I want to take a moment to explain why a modern class on herbology is covering ancient medicinal practices. In present day Europe -- and in a fair few other countries and continents as well -- there has been increased momentum to reject the old and fashion something new. In part, this is logical: the old Comet 180s of my parents’ days simply do not compare to the newer Firebolts! Similarly, we do not use many ancient spells in our curriculum as newer, less complicated ones have been developed to take their place. However, just because something is old is no reason to discount it entirely. Some of the oldest manuscripts on plants and their uses contain wisdom we still use today. Indeed old magic may be a bit outdated, but that is not to say it is any less powerful! I daresay your Ancient Studies and Ancient Runes professors could back me up on that one! In any case, it does not do to forget our past. There are lessons to be learned there, and the discoveries of those who came before us are things we can still learn from. You never know when an ancient use of myrrh might become useful to healing a new disease or be needed in a new potion.

Just What Is Healing?
Before we close our lesson for today, we have one more topic to touch upon: the definition of healing. To some, this may seem obvious. It is the process of making a person healthy or whole again. After all, the word heal itself comes from the Old English word “hǽlan,” whose etymology means “to be made whole.” However, ailments don’t just occur in the body, and not all bodily ailments have visible signs. A person may suffer from mental ailments, fever, paralysis of particular limbs, headaches, chronic fatigue, and more. Herbs can help with all of these things. 

However, as we embark upon our exploration of healing, remember this: a good healer (and a good patient) will not confuse healing the symptoms with healing the problem. Easing the cough of someone with tuberculosis, for example, will not fix the overall issue. Not only will the cough come back -- as you haven’t dealt with the cause -- but other complications may crop up as well, whether now or in the future. While this course will certainly not suffice to teach you to be a healer, I would be remiss not to discuss this with you!

A Precious Plant
With the theory out of the way, I would like to take the time to give you an example of a plant that only grows in certain areas. No, it doesn’t grow in underwater caves in Switzerland, but it is dreadfully difficult to cultivate outside its natural area. Native to the tropical forests of the Philippines, it is quite the picky plant. 

Known by many names that indicate its rarity and value, Strongylodon macrobotrys, also known as the jade vine, the emerald creeper, or the turquoise climber, is a striking specimen. Its claw-like flowers are a unique shade of blue or green, depending on the individual plant, whereas the vine stem itself is a dark purple. These plants can reach as far as they are allowed to stretch, though most generally cap the figure at 60 feet.

As you will have guessed, these plants require significant care in order to mimic their natural surroundings, though they grow voraciously in the wilds of the Philippine Islands. Firstly, just like any other vine, the emerald creeper usually grows on something else, so some type of structure must be provided for it to latch onto. As for its planting needs, it requires slightly acidic soil (with a pH of roughly 6.1 to 6.5), full sun, and frequent watering to keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged. In addition to these needs, the plant must be kept in an environment of at least 15 degrees Celsius (or 59 degrees Fahrenheit) and high humidity. For this, the Humidity Spell is often used, though it requires the plant to be kept separate from other plants for which humidity is a problem. Finally, it is best to fertilize the soil once or twice a month with either dragon dung or mooncalf dung, depending on how the plant reacts. 


After all that effort, I’m sure you’ll want something to show for it, and the jade vine does not disappoint! Other than its longtime use in alchemical potions specific to the Philippines, it is also used in potions to treat infertility. More recently -- and some might argue less importantly -- its flowers have been discovered as the best things to not only immediately cure the hiccups (via making a tincture), but also treat that strange pain that occurs when you hit your elbow. It is also the active ingredient in Nebres’ Nail Solution.

Some Terms, Definitions, and Clarification
Before you all leave for the day, I would like to take a little bit of time to clarify some titles. As you know, herbs overlap with both the magical and non-magical worlds. A Muggle can easily use plants to heal, just as a witch or wizard can (though, of course, we have many more plants at our disposal, and the uses are much more varied, as we can use them in potions). Since there is room for confusion, we will take a moment here to distinguish the two realms. 

You will often hear me call a person an herbologist, though you will just as likely hear me call someone a botanist, researcher, or biodiversivist. An herbologist is the proper term for a witch or wizard who studies plants and their uses. The others are simply plant-related occupations or pursuits that Muggles get up to. These too can be very important and eye-opening, but they are not magical professions, and these people do not work with magical plants! In some cases, there may be cause for confusion (such as in the case of researchers, as there are many herbologists that do conduct research in these areas as well). However, in those cases, I will try to make it very apparent who’s magical and who’s Muggle, either by naming them as an herbologist as well or outright stating they are a witch or wizard. 

Another dichotomy is herbal practices (or herbalism) and herbological practices (or herbology). You may hear these terms applied to the uses of plants as well. The difference is that herbal practices, remedies, or uses are non-magical. Muggles can use and perform these as easily as any magical person. Herbological practices and uses, however, are accessible and able to be practiced only by magical folk.

For now, that is all I have for you. Next week, we will be discussing a few safety precautions and important considerations to take into account before we continue on with the study of herbal healing. Between now and then, please complete your homework to ensure you have absorbed what we went over today, as well as turn in your dandelion projects from last term!

Original lesson written by Professor Venita Wessex
Image credits here, here, here and here

Additional photos on Facebook here



Have you ever thought about becoming a healer? In the Third Year of Herbology, you will learn about healing herbs, their properties, and how to plant and care for them. You will also learn about Herbology from a more historical perspective, touring around the world while we discover the most interesting plants. Join me in this marvellous trip!
Course Prerequisites:
  • HERB-201

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