Above: Two details from a tapestry-woven praetexta (Germany, Cologne, about 1450-75) currently on display at The Cloisters. The flower shown at the center of the detail on the left is a fantasy. The detail on the right shows a botanically unmistakable lily; a strawberry, embellished with a fanciful and botanically incorrect element at the bottom of the fruit, appears just below and to the left of the lily. See the full image.
A plant in a medieval work of art need not be naturalistically depicted to be recognizable. Even a very stylized representation may have characteristics so distinctive that it can be given a botanical identity with complete confidence. Read more »