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Author Topic: A herb or just a plant?  (Read 1182 times)

imfeduptoo

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A herb or just a plant?
« on: 25 September, 2011, 06:41:12 AM »
What qualities does a plant need to have to be classed as a herb?

Offline Loheels

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Re: A herb or just a plant?
« Reply #1 on: 25 September, 2011, 09:05:11 PM »
From the botanical viewpoint, a herb is a seed plant that does not produce a woody stem like a tree. But a herb will live long enough to develop flowers and seeds.
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Offline AtMyWitzEnd

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Re: A herb or just a plant?
« Reply #2 on: 25 September, 2011, 10:14:24 PM »
According to the Collins English dictionary, a herb is a seed-bearing plant whose aerial parts do not persist above ground at the end of the growing season but it then proposes the second meaning in common English; "any of various usually aromatic plants, such as parsley, rue, and rosemary, that are used in cookery and medicine".
So, there is a difference between the botanical definition and the common usage.

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Re: A herb or just a plant?
« Reply #3 on: 26 September, 2011, 06:22:37 AM »
According to the Collins English dictionary, a herb is a seed-bearing plant whose aerial parts do not persist above ground at the end of the growing season but it then proposes the second meaning in common English; "any of various usually aromatic plants, such as parsley, rue, and rosemary, that are used in cookery and medicineSo, there is a difference between the botanical definition and the common usage.".


Witz is right...so a plant has to have different qualities to qualify under whichever different meaning of 'herb' is being used.

Strictly botanical usage means that all a plant has to do to be a herb is basically die and not be too woody.

From the man-in-the-street (or the man-in-the-kitchen’s) point of view…it also has to taste good in cooking or be aromatic.

Obviously the scientist needs to be totally precise so, looking up the words ‘herb’ and ‘herbaceous’ in the American Heritage Science Dictionary brings a definition which opens up yet another vaguely interesting twist…it says:

“herb (ûrb)  
A flowering plant whose stem does not produce woody tissue and generally dies back at the end of each growing season. Both grasses and forbs are herbs.”

The interesting bit (for me at least) is not the “grasses and forbs are herbs” bit…it is just the “forbs” bit which can also be spelled “phorbs”.

A ‘forb’ or ‘phorb’ is any “Broad-leaved herb (as opposed to a grass), especially one growing in a field, prairie, or meadow.

It is easy to see a possible phonetic link between ‘phorb’ and 'herb’.

The word ‘phorb’ comes down to us from the ancient Greeks….From the Greek phorb meaning ‘fodder’ and from ‘pherbein’ to graze.

The Romans gave us the Latin ‘herba’ which means ‘grass, turf or a herb plant’…you can take your pick depending on context.

Otherwise we have to look closer to home to Old French from the 1100’s as in Old French 'erbe' meaning "grass, herb, plant".

So the word comes full circle…from having meant grass and grazing, it now means anything but grasses and grazing.

But, to go back to Mrs FedUp’s original question (and not being a strict botanist) I much prefer the definition that, for a plant to be a herb it must taste bliddy good in a pizza.







« Last Edit: 26 September, 2011, 06:29:25 AM by P-Kasso2 »
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