Barnard College's Monthly Magazine

New York Botanical Gardens: “Wild: Medicine: Healing Plants Around the World”

There is nothing more relaxing after a hellish week of finals than taking a stroll on a sunny day through beautiful gardens filled with exquisite plants and flowers.

The newest exhibit at the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG), “Wild Medicine: Healing Plants Around the World, Featuring the Italian Renaissance Garden” is an ideal place to soothe your aching heads and relieve stress. It will be open May 18 to September 8, so you can either grab a friend and wander through the labyrinth of plants together, or take your family for a post-graduation outing in the sun to celebrate.

“Wild Medicine: Healing Plants Around the World” is designed to reveal how different cultures use plants on a daily basis for food, clothing, makeup, and, most incredibly, their medicine. You can see plants that treat malaria, like the Cinchona tree, or the white willow, the main component in aspirin (something I’m sure we’ll all be using during finals). There are more than 400 species of plants exhibited, which makes it one of “the largest exhibitions of medicinal plants ever mounted.”

In addition to a stunning display of these miraculous healing plants, an incredible collection of rare books and manuscripts, called herbals, are on display for those interested in seeing impressive diagrams and antique inscriptions. Additionally, NYBG has also set up a variety of scientific explorations designed specifically for kids.

In terms of health and beauty, this exhibition has some interesting tricks for overstressed and overindulging college students. Nothing is worse than waking up to a delivery of Mother Nature’s monthly gift. Put down the Midol and try Abelmoschus moschatus, more commonly known as Ambrette, and make a tea out of the herb Hamelia patens, also called Scarlet Bush, for relief to your tumultuous insides. Oenothera biennis (evening primrose) can even help treat PMS. Feeling a little under the weather from getting one hour of sleep a day for two weeks while subsisting on Red Bull and shots of espresso? Give Astragalus syriacus (milk vetch) and Bacopa monnieri (waterhyssop) a try. They can help stimulate your immune system and promote general health to give you that extra boost to kick-start a fantastic summer break.

Speaking of summer break, I’m sure there will be significant alcohol consumption at the end of finals or after graduation to celebrate the completion of the year. Many of us deal with the consequences of indulging in one too many happy hour frozen margaritas at The Heights. Interestingly enough, Coffea arabica or coffee, is used to treat nausea, vomiting, and hangovers from heavy drinking, so grab a cup of Joe at Hungarian Pastry Shop to ease your throbbing head. If you are tired of finding pimples and discolorations the morning after a night out, look no further than Simmondsia chinensis (Jojoba), used to soften and soothe dry skin, treat acne, , and condition hair.

For anyone who plans to venture to the beach, take a trip around the world, or spend some time walking through Central Park, we can all agree that mosquito bites covering your legs and sunburn on your face are something to which Sweet Brown would say, “ain’t nobody got time for that.” Try some Cymbopogon nardus (citronella) to repel those pesky insects, and Bursera simaruba (Gumbo-limbo) and Aloe vera for sunburn relief.

At the end of the day, “Healing Plants Around the World” exhibits beautiful plants and flowers from many places, highlights the necessity of these herbs for medicinal purposes, and shares helpful tips for maintaining a healthy mind, body, and soul. It is a gorgeous display and a must-see for a summer in the city.
By Emily Voletsky

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One comment on “New York Botanical Gardens: “Wild: Medicine: Healing Plants Around the World”

  1. dianerosen
    May 17, 2013

    The Botanical Gardens are always a treat for both the senses and the spirit. In this exhibit, learning about the health benefits we derive from plants sounds like an added bonus. Perhaps it’s also implicitly a plea for saving rare plant species from extinction, as rain forests and other indigenous habitats continue to be eradicated. Thanks for this heads up about what promises to be an important and pleasurable
    experience at the Gardens!

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This entry was posted on May 10, 2013 by in New York City Living.
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