Many people do not realize the extent to which plants affect their daily health, from aspirin to cancer treatments.  The list is huge - but below is a list of some medicinal plants housed in the Biology Department Greenhouse.

Aloe vera (Asparagaceae)

Native to the lower Mediterranean region, this plant is known as Cleopatra’s beauty secret for its healing properties.  The succulent jelly inside the leaves is used to soothe small cuts, burns, dry skin, sunburn and insect bites.  Since the Middle-Ages, the yellow latex found inside the leaves’ skin has been used as a purgative and laxative as Anthraquinone compounds stimulate contractions of the digestive tract.  The skin's bitter taste has also been used to deter children from biting their nails.

    • Asparagaceae
    • Aloe vera

    • Photo Credit: Jacob Golan
    • Asparagaceae
    • Aloe vera

    • Photo Credit: Jenny Gordon
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Cola acuminate (Malvaceae)

This West African species produces a nut that can be used as a stimulant due to its caffeine content.  It is also used as a tonic to treat stomachaches, sore throats, and nausea.  Along with Coca (the plant used to produce cocaine), Kola nut extract was once a main ingredient in Coca-Cola

    • Malvaceae
    • Cola acuminata

    • Photo Credit: Jenny Gordon
    • Malvaceae
    • Cola acuminata

    • Photo Credit: Jacob Golan
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Boophone disticha (Amaryllidaceae)

This beautiful South African species has been used by the Zulus to induce hallucinations and to treat mental illness.  In laboratory experiments, the mixture of alkaloids in the bulb has shown potential in treating depression.

    • Amaryllidaceae
    • Boophone sp.

    • Photo Credit: Jenny Gordon
    • Amaryllidaceae
    • Boophone sp.

    • Photo Credit: Jenny Gordon
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Azadirachta indica (Meliaceae)

Better known as Neem, this anti-malarial plant was introduced from India to Africa in order to hinder the spread of the disease.  The tree is also used as an anti-microbial, as well as to treat fevers.  Neem oil is commonly used in cosmetics.

    • Meliaceae
    • Azadirachta indica

    • Meliaceae
    • Azadirachta indica

    • Photo Credit: Jenny Gordon
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  • Equisetaceae
  • Fabaceae
  • Commeliniaceae
  • Ericaceae
  • Araceae
  • Begoniaceae
  • Araceae
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