Documenting Wild Medicinal Plants in our Region
Visitors to the Institute’s Sherman Cohn library in recent months may have noticed an additional feature in the form of a mini-herbarium, situated in the shelves adjacent to the main librarian desk. The herbarium consists of dried and pressed specimens of plants, most of which are medicinal plants collected in mid-Atlantic and Appalachian regions, including many from the grounds of Tai Sophia Institute.
The Herbarium is a joint project of the Sherman Cohn library, the Herbal Medicine program and the Herb Dispensary. Herbarium collections are an essential component of the raw materials component of the herb industry, in that they can be used as voucher specimens for later reference of the authenticity and origin of a batch of plant material. This September, students of the revised Master of Science in Therapeutic Herbalism are about to embark on their first field trip intensive in Pennsylvania, during which they will learn the art and practice of pressing and mounting herbarium specimens.
Currently one of our herbal students has taken on an herbarium internship through the herb dispensary, and she is responsible for labeling and mounting most of the specimens in our collection.
In addition to supplying our own herbarium, specimens have been sent to larger herbariums, including Southern Cross University in Australia and the Claude E. Phillips Herbarium at Delaware State University. In return, the Delaware facility has provided skills training in good herbarium practices.