Gardener, Heal Thyself

"go out in the urban fields of New York City and collect 12 plants growing in the streets of the Bronx that can be used as medicines by homeless people"

I was going to post something today about the medicinal properties of plants, more an intial post in a series since I think the subject is getting some interesting momentum. It's both getting some popular exposure by people like James Wong and the searchable internet is allowing for some interesting evidence based discoveries about these medicinal properties. I was going to write something about Oregano - after reading this interesting study about its antimicrobial properties. But I'll leave that for another time because that request above by artist Jeff Geys to ethnobotanist Ina Vanderbroek which she posted about on the NYBG blog pretty much puts the subject into a perspective and context that just blows my mind.

First of all I love the combination of scientist, inspired to think creatively and an artist formulating a project whose premise is both humanitarian and common sensical. The plants Ina selects are 'considered weeds' and 'growing in sidewalks and abandoned lots', which lends this endeavour called Quadra Medicinale a certain irony since physic gardens, herbalists and apothecarists knowledgeable about botanical remedies were the precursors of modern medicine. It puts some interesting new angles to the question 'what should I plant next?' It also makes you wonder what the properties are of plants that are already in the garden that are not what you typically associate with medicinal properties.

For example that image on the left from the Kew Herbarium is of Diascia Integrimma, you know that pretty coral annual, I just recently put in again? Well it's got some medicinal properties, I just don't know what yet but they have it growing in the Chelsea Physic Garden. I must find out. The guy on the right is Pierre Quthe, famous Parisian apothecarist and my current muse.


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