School of Pharmacy to plant educational campus medicinal garden

Faculty, staff and the public are invited to participate in the planting of a new educational medicinal garden from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. May 3 on west campus. The event will begin with a short presentation about the new garden and about KU’s first medicinal garden, planted by the School of Pharmacy in the 1920s and inspired by the school’s first dean, Lucius E. Sayre.

Lucius E. Sayre, first dean of the School of Pharmacy

The new garden was designed by faculty and staff of the KU Native Medicinal Plant Research Program, a collaboration between medicinal chemistry and botany. University Distinguished Professor Barbara Timmermann, chair of medicinal chemistry in the School of Pharmacy, is principal investigator of the program. Kelly Kindscher, a senior scientist at the Kansas Biological Survey and a member of the faculty in environmental studies, is co-principal investigator and heads the botany arm of the program. The program maintains a medicinal plant research garden, established in spring 2010, near the Lawrence airport.

The new pharmacy garden will include about 70 species, including many native to Kansas. The plants will be organized into five garden beds, each with a separate theme:

• Plants that have been listed in the U.S. Pharmacopeia and National Formulary, which contains standards for medicines, dosage forms, drug substances and dietary supplements

• Plants that were included in KU’s first medicinal garden, which was planted near old Robinson Gymnasium, near today’s Budig Hall, on the south slope of Mount Oread

• Scented plants, including plants used to make teas

• Species in the genus Echinacea, the most widely used medicinal plants in North America

• Species in the genus Asclepias (milkweeds)

A group of about 15 pharmacy students is planning to help plant the new garden. All are members of Kappa Epsilon, a fraternal group focused on professional development. Their participation is being led by second-year pharmacy students and avid gardeners Nalini Singh, of Wichita, and Joanna Wakeman, of Lawrence. Singh said that through the garden project, she felt a connection with her predecessors in the School of Pharmacy, who planted the first medicinal garden decades ago.

“We’re excited to get our hands dirty,” Singh said. “It’s great for pharmacy students to help bring a medicinal garden back to campus.”

Lucius Sayre was the first faculty member at the KU School of Pharmacy, serving from 1885 to 1925. His work included many of the same activities now carried out by faculty and staff of the Native Medicinal Plant Research Program, including study of prior medicinal use of plants native to Kansas and the region, testing of plants to determine their medicinal chemistry, conducting research on safety and efficacy standards for herbal use and promoting the planting of a medicinal garden on campus.

Kindscher learned about Sayre’s work while doing research for his second book, “Medicinal Wild Plants of the Prairie: An Ethnobotanical Guide,” published in 1992.

The new pharmacy medicinal garden will be planted on the south side of the School of Pharmacy building at 2010 Becker Drive on west campus, at the patio just outside the cafeteria. Pharmacy parking lots 227 and 228, as well as the Park and Ride lot, will be open to the public for event parking. Cars without KU parking stickers will not be ticketed in these lots after 2:30 p.m.

An informational flier for the event, including a map and directions to the School of Pharmacy, is available online.

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