Medicinal Garden

The use of plants in medicine is not new, going back at least as far as A.D. 50 when the Roman doctor, Pedanuis Dioscordis, wrote De Materia Medica.  His writing became the foundation upon which all other herbals were based.  Through time and unfortunate errors, the use of plants as medicine, food, cosmetics and pleasure was perfected and passed down from generation to generation, from farm to farm, and from the country to the city.

A century ago most home gardens included herbs in some part of their landscaping for their medicinal value.  As it was then and still is now, only a part of the plant – the root, flower, seed or leaf was used.  In many cases one part of a plant is used in medicine while another part of the same plant could be very poisonous.  The person administering the herb must have had, and today still must have complete knowledge of a plant’s qualities before using them in medicine.

Luther Burbank experimented with and through trial and error improved many of the plant types shown in this medicinal garden.  The beauty of these plants can easily be seen, and many of them may be recognized as still being used in today’s landscaping.

Medicinal Herbs in Display Bed

Common Name Botanical Name Uses
Agrimonia eupatoria tonic, astringent, diuretic
Aloe Aloe saponaria to treat human ringworm
Arctium lappa powerful sweat-inducing agent, diuretic, treated gout, rheumatism
Clary sage Salvia sclarea used as a tonic, and for digestive problems
Comfrey Symphytum officinale salve used for wounds, rashes
Costmary Chrysanthemum balsamita astringent, antiseptic
Feverfew Chrysanthemum parthenium tonic for headache
Foxglove Digitalis purpureum poisonous! used externally for ulcers, internally as blood circulation stimulant
Goldenrod Solidago astringent, tonic, diuretic
Hen and Chicks Sempervivum Astringent
Horehound Marrubium vulgare mild laxative, tonic
Lady’s mantle Alchemilla vulgaris tonic, astringent, depurative
Lamb’s ears Stachys byzantina emetic, purgative, leaves used as bandages
Lavender Lavandula stimulant, antispasmodic tonic, diuretic, sedative
Lemon balm Melissa officinalis sedative, antispasmodic
Lovage Levisticum officinale diuretic, expectorant
Mugwort Artemisia vulgaris a digestive and tonic herb
Mullein Verbascum thapsus root used to treat diarrhea, bronchial and lung ailments
Oregano Oreganum marjorum relieves earache, toothache, cough and swelling
Rosemary Rosmarinus Antiseptic
Sage Salvia officinalis reduces sore throats, nervous headaches, depression
Salad Burnet Sanguisorba minor astringent, stops internal bleeding
Soapwort Saponaria officinalis used to treat poison ivy rash
Tansy Tanacetum vulgare used externally for rheumatis
Tea tree Leptospermum scoparium antiseptic, antifungal, antibacterial
Thyme Thymus vulgaris antiseptic, tonic
Vervain Verbena officinalis tonic, expectorant, restorative
Winter’s bark Drimys winteri remedy for scurvy
Wormwood Artemesia dracunculus tonic, diuretic
Yarrow Achillea millefolium anti-inflammatory, antiallergenic

Plants continue to play an important role as botanists and other scientists continue to find new uses for them in agriculture and medicine.  Even today in much of the world, people rely on natural herbs and other plants for most of their health care.  New medicinal uses for wild plants include an endangered species of evening primrose that has the potential to treat coronary heart disease, multiple sclerosis and possibly other diseases.  Scientists are studying the chemical that causes leaves to change color in the fall as a potential cure for colon cancer.  The bark and needles of the Yew tree have been successful in treating many forms of cancer.  New plant discoveries will continue to be found as long as there is diversity in the plant kingdom and the curiosity, patience and open-mindedness to accept the value plants have to offer people.