Established in 2011, the Heim Memorial Pharmacy Garden showcases plants used for medicine. Located on the South Patio of the KU School of Pharmacy, the garden contains over 50 species in five distinct beds (map). The Heim Memorial Pharmacy Garden is named in of honor KU alumnae Gail Heim, whose family established an endowment for the garden in her memory.
Great Plains Medicinal Plant Garden
Along the outer edge of the patio, this bed features plants native to Kansas that were historically listed in the US Pharmacopeia-National Formulary.
Founded in 1820, the U.S. Pharmacopeia’s (USP) purpose was to create a uniform guidelines for medicine, including a system of standards, quality control measures and a list of approved medicines referred to as the National Formulary. In 1906, the Federal Food and Drug Act, the National Formulary Standard of the USP were offically adopted as federal standards for the United States. All of the plants in our garden bed are species native to the Great Plains that have been listed in the National Formulary at some time, such as Yarrow, Rattlesnake Master, and Culver’s Root. Learn more about the US Pharmacopeia-National Formulary.
Lucius Sayre Garden
The Lucius Sayre Garden recreates, in part, KU’s first “drug garden” planted in 1927. Lucius Sayre was KU’s first Dean of Pharmacy in 1891. His work centered on medicinal plants, and he was concerned about the safety and efficacy of medicinal plant use. Over the course of his career, Sayre authored more than 180 articles on such topics as the chemical analysis of medicinally active plant compounds, ethnobotanical use, market values of medicinal plants, alcohol Prohibition, and the standardization and purity of medicines and food. He is also known for his discovery of corn oil in 1913
Sayre first campaigned for local medicinal plant gardens in the wake of World War I to reduce American dependence on the European plant market. Between 1914 and 1916, the profitability of medicinal plants soared, which gave Sayre more reason to press KU for a medicinal plant garden at the School of Pharmacy. However, the university did not approve his proposal. It was not until 1927, two years after his death, that a medicinal plant garden was put in — one of many signs of pharmacy students’ fondness for Sayre — on the south slope of Mount Oread, near Old Robinson Gymnasium. Based on records in the University Archives, it is believed that the plants chosen for that garden were commonly used in medicinal research. You can learn more about Lucius Sayre from our article, published in the Transactions of the Kansas Academies of Science.
The Sayre Garden includes some of the plants found in the original 1927 garden, including Foxglove, Wormwood, Rue, and Cotton.
Tea and Scented Plants Bed
This bed features plants best known for their culinary value, such as mint and thyme. This bed demonstrates the intersection of food and medicine, as the plants here contain antioxidant, anti-bacterial, and antiseptic compounds, in addition to being flavorful and nutritious. Most of the herbs located here are in the mint family, Lamiaceae, which has more than 230 genera and more than 7,000 species. These plants not only smell and taste good, they can help us treat headaches, coughs, colds, and relieve stress.
Echinacea, or Purple Coneflower is the most popular herbal medicine from the Great Plains. Used extensively by Native Americans to treat a wide variety of ailments, today it is most commonly used to boost the immune system. All nine species of Echinacea are native to the United States, and have medicinal properties. This bed highlights several different species of this important medicinal plant. Learn more about our work with Echinacea.
Milkweed (Asclepias sp.) Bed
Milkweeds may be best known for their relationship with Monarch Butterflies, which depend upon milkweeds as food for their caterpillars. The toxic cardiac glycosides produced by milkweeds become sequestered in the tissues of monarchs, providing them with a potent chemical defense mechanism. These same cardiac glycosides provide medicinal properties to the plants that have been used by humans. In this bed we highlight several beautiful species that are common in Northeastern Kansas. Learn more about our work with Milkweeds.