General information: above 150 taxons

Area: 0.1 ha

The collection of medicinal and spice plants is an interesting collection of plant species used in natural, traditional and folk medicine as well as homeopathy and aromatherapy. A considerable part of this section is also devoted to spice plants.

The collection of medicinal and spice plants has an experiential and educational character. It is a living herbarium for visitors and an interesting lesson in botany. It contains plants used in academic medicine, folk medicine, homeopathy and aromatherapy throughout Eurasia and North America. Here you can see species used as far back as the Stone Age, antiquity and the Middle Ages as well as those whose healing properties we are only just discovering – so it is a ‘living pharmacy’ or ‘living chemist’s’, where you can see and smell plants known from advertisements for medicines, shampoos and toothpastes or from the stories of our ancestors.

The greatest pride of the collection is a group of Siberian, Far Eastern and Central Asian species that are rarely presented in Europe and were used in the official medicine of the former USSR, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), Tibetan medicine and/or folk medicine of the Caucasus, Urals and Siberia. These include the Kirillov gurdlin (Trichosanthes kirylovii), a laxative from the cucurbitaceae family, and the Wolf’s sickle (Serratula wolffii) from the asteraceae family.

The collection is also a wonderful place for rest and relaxation. The richness of its aromas and smells, colours of flowers and leaves, and the idyll of insects circling around them are a perfect escape from the problems of daily life. Our signage system draws attention to pollinator-friendly species, especially the honeybee, bumblebee and solitary bee.

Taxons which are used medicinally in many countries, but not by our own herbal and spice industry, e.g. burnet (Sanguisorba minor), will certainly arouse the curiosity of some visitors. You will also find commonly known species used e.g. in cuisine or for decorative purposes, which are also valuable sources of health-promoting compounds. Such plants include the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris), the common sunflower (Helinathus annuus) and buckwheat  (Fagopyrum esculantum).

In selecting the plants for the collection, we could leave out neither species used to obtain well-known spices nor those found only in old recipes or housewife’s handbooks from the times of war and occupation. Here you have the chance to see past substitutes for raisins and dates – the plum tree (Amelanchier spp) juniper (Juniperus communis), which was used in the past to adulterate sandarac; oregano (Origanum vulgare), which can be substituted for ajwain (Trachyspermum ammi); and angelica (Angelica), formerly used instead of lovage and tarragon, and even earlier as a remedy against the plague, cholera and vampirism.

PLEASE NOTE!

In the collection you will find information plates with the names of individual species and indications of harmful and poisonous agents contained in some plants. The use of herbs should be preceded by consultation with a specialist. Incompetent use of herbal preparations may pose a threat to our health and life!

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