Medicinal and edible herbs are all around us, even in the heart of the city. Dr. Adriane Fugh-Berman, Professor of Pharmacology and Physiology, recently took Virginia Cooperative Extension Agent Kirsten Conrad and Master Gardener interns Maria Velikonja and Kathie Fricke on a tour of the Urban Herb Gardens at Georgetown University Medical Center.
The gardens feature wildflowers, culinary herbs, tree fruits, and medicinal plants, and are used in biology and pharmacology courses at Georgetown. Medicinal plants such as Echinacea and Vitex agnus-castus (chaste-tree berry) can be ornamental. Other important medicinal plants grow wild, and spill over curbs or line parking lots. Plants that many consider to be weeds are vital to the development of modern pharmaceuticals, including Melilotus officinalis (yellow sweet clover), which provided a drug model for the widely used anticoagulant warfarin, and Datura stramonium (jimson weed), which provided scopolamine, used today as an anti-motion sickness drug.
Georgetown’s gardens were created on strips of neglected land on campus, and include a rooftop garden built on 14 inches of soil. The gardens are used to demonstrate urban gardening and xericulture.
If you are interested in more information about these gardens and the plants grown, please go to: Welcome to URBAN HERBS, a project of the Department of Pharmacology & Physiology, Georgetown University School of Medicine .