Park as Pharmacy: Medicinal Botany in Cities

Park as Pharmacy is an exploration of the wild flora that thrive in urban ecosystems and how we can reimagine their role in our lives. Their ubiquity and resilience warrant more attention to their potential as local natural resources for providing medicine, nutrition, environmental education, and many ecological services, such as carbon sequestration, air purification, storm-water retention and more. 

I surveyed Central Park one chilly autumn to create an inventory and map of the most common wild herbs in the park, which covered a broad range of the many species found in New York City’s vacant lots, concrete crevices, etc. The species in the inventory were researched via plant guides and online databases for ecological habits, medicinal uses, and current studies on these uses. This data was then made into an accessible field guide for engaging conversations on urban ecology and alternative medicine. View the field guide from spring 2013 to the right. Updates to the guide are ongoing as I learn more about familiar and undiscovered species through each season. Comments or suggestions are very welcome here.

You can find many relevant articles and resources here.


Undergraduate thesis presentation:

Field map of Central Park (randomized survey plots indicated by opaque shading):

Flashcard concept for early environmental education:

Sidewalk plant sightings throughout New York City: