Learn about New York City's wild plants through the Park as Pharmacy project!
Hi there, I'm Rena & I'm researching the
possibility for developing medicinal botany in cities.
I've done field and literature research to gather a list of common wild urban plant species with significant medicinal histories and properties, along with a map of their densities and locations within Central Park. Now, it's time to share that information and learn more about how folks like you might engage with these plants across the following mediums.
1 Field Guide - new species profiles in progress
I made and distributed copies of a field guide including profiles for 22 common herbs and a survival scavenger hunt activity in Central Park earlier this year. Now, I'm working on updating the guide with more species, detailed maps, and cultural context for each plant. Take a look at a sample of what the guide includes here!
2 Park Installation
I want to directly call attention to common urban plants by placing frames and simple signage around patches of medicinal species along the paths and in the lawns of Central Park. Based on people's responses to my placing a PVC sampling square around grass in random spots during last year's surveying, people will definitely take notice!
3 Mobile Application - prototyping and database building in progress
An app would be the most convenient and easily distributed form for all the information I've been gathering. It would use a dichotomous key to guide users through identifying herbaceous plants they encounter and then displaying profiles with stories about traditional and modern uses in medicine. Users will be able to help the database grow by adding in information about plants they encounter that are not found in the app. A scavenger hunt game and maps for sharing locations of herb colonies could also be included.
The website would basically be a more detailed version of the app. Access to the full database of plant species would be available through the site, along with more maps displaying where to look for herbs that treat specific symptoms.
+ I've also recently started a Twitter handle to share my everyday medicinal plant sightings around the city!