The Officina was the name of the storeroom of a medieval monastery where medicines and other needed substances were kept. Officina is a contraction of the Latin word opificina, from “opus” (work) and “facere” (to do). In modern times, the word for such a room would become “pharmacy.”
You may know that plants are often referred to by their binomial, the two-word description of their genus and species. When Carl Linnaeus began use of the two-name system in his 1735 work Systema Naturae, he gave the name “officinalis” to plants with a long-established medicinal, culinary, or other use–with officinalis meaning something that is found in an officina. So Salvia officinalis is the type of sage that is found in the medicine storeroom, or what we call garden sage today. There are today a great many plants with officinalis as their species name — see the Officinalis entry on Wikipedia for a list.
Because beneficial plants are very much part of the monastic and medieval traditions of the faith, a daily part of the lives of the saints and our ancestors in the faith, and a significant part of the beauty of God’s creation, we are expanding our In Horto Traditian (webpage, Facebook page) presence by beginning a page with entries on different plants of interest. On the menu at the top of our page it will be called On Herbs, but in reality the page will be named the Officina. The page will talk about our mission and activities in this area and will direct readers to our entries on plant families and our histories of particular herbs, spices and vegetables. On all pages there will be space for comments by our readers.
Please check it out!