Album of Plants


Cao mu pu (Album of plants) consists entirely of images of small plants, with inscriptions that give the names of the plants. The publication date is not given, although the work probably dates from the 17th or 18th centuries, and it lacks a title page. The images begin right on the first page. The central columns of the folded leaves are also blank, thus the book’s provenance and publication data cannot be determined. However, the engraving of the illustrations is of high quality, representative of the finest Chinese woodblock printing, and the illustrations are precisely detailed. The title is taken from the spine of the album case. Each leaf provides one illustration, with the name of the plant printed above. Most of these plants have applications in traditional Chinese medicine, such as li dou (Chinese mucuna, probably Mucuna pruriens), ye jiu (wild leek), wan dou (snow peas) and cang zhu (Swordlike Atractylodes). The first 11 leaves have frames, 20.3 centimeters high and 13.1 centimeters wide; the rest have none. The title was not recorded in any catalogs, and the Library of Congress copy presented here is the only one known.

Last updated: January 10, 2018