Among descriptions of stems and petals, leaflets and pods, one will also find, in Rumphius’ Het Amboinsch Kruydboek, a strange account of a plant that gave the young a more ‘subtle tongue’. Schoolmasters recommended it and students eagerly took it. Whether medically or magically induced, the dexterity of the tongue was believed to be a gift—in this case, a holy gift that helped Malay-speaking children pronounce Arabic correctly. Rumphius named the plant ABCDaria and mentioned that plants like it were called obat murid by ‘Moorish Papists’ who populated the archipelago. This paper focuses on the difficult link between magic, religion, and medicine in Rumphius’ Kruydboek, as an extension of Peter Boomgaard’s scholarship on the historical confluence of European and Asian knowledge regarding medicine and the natural world. Through the example of Georg Everhard Rumphius (1627-1702), a VOC administrator who explored, experimented, and wrote about the natural world of the archipelago, this paper explores how a European naturalist tried to negotiate cultural difference with a writer’s expectations of a European readership for his materia medica. Through his engagement with local practitioners of medicine, not only did Rumphius procure recipes of healing but also document practices he described as magical and superstitious. I suggest that by reading Malay textual sources alongside Rumphius’ Kruydboek, one might better gauge how scales of difference and similitude—for example, between magic and medicine, the superstitious and the supernatural—came to be manifested through culturally different processes of documentation.