Medicinal plants

David R. Hershey dh321 at PGSTUMAIL.PG.CC.MD.US
Fri Jan 5 20:06:54 EST 1996

Living examples of medicinal plants include,

Aloe (Aloe vera) - a common houseplant, whose sap is often applied to burns, 
rashes, etc. and is widely used in cosmetics and shampoos. 

Yew (Taxus) - a common landscape shrub, which is the source of the drug 
taxol, for breast cancer treatment.

Rosy periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus) - a common summer bedding plant, 
a Madagascar native, that is the source of alkaloids to cure childhood 

Willow (Salix species) - widely grown landscape and native plants which 
were the source of aspirin.

Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) - a popular biennial or perennial garden 
flower which is the source of digitalis for heart disease.

Sphagnum moss (Sphagnum species) - widely used by gardeners as a soil 
amendment has antibiotic properties and was widely used as a wound 
dressing. It also is very absorbant so absorbs blood from wounds.

Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus species) - widely grown landscape tree in 
California and other warm areas and also popular in dried flower 
arrangements, which is used in cough medicines.

Garlic (Allium sativum) - widely used in cooking and also as a natural 

Health food stores carry all kinds of plant pills which "supposedly" have 
medicinal value including ginkgo seeds (Ginkgo biloba) - a common 
landscape tree.

Check economic botany books for many more examples. A good popular book 
with lots of color photos is Plants for People by Anna Lewington (1990, 
Oxford University Press). 

David R. Hershey
Snail mail: 6700 Belcrest Road #112, Hyattsville, MD 20782-1398

Adjunct Professor, Biology/Horticulture Department
Prince George's Community College, Largo, MD 20772-2199

Email: dh321 at

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