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Implementing a native medicinal plant garden in Monteverde, Costa Rica

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Title:
Implementing a native medicinal plant garden in Monteverde, Costa Rica
Translated Title:
Implementación de un jardín de plantas medicinales nativas en Monteverde, Costa Rica ( )
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English
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Howes, Cory
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Medicinal plants--Costa Rica   ( lcsh )
School gardens--Costa Rica--Monteverde Biological Station   ( lcsh )
Plantas medicinales--Costa Rica
Jardines escolares--Costa Rica--Monteverde
Estación Biológica
Tropical Ecology 2008
Ecología Tropical 2008
Genre:
Reports   ( lcsh )
Reports

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Abstract:
The importance of plants has played a powerful role for medicine throughout human history. Tribes in Costa Rica once practiced Shamanism with native flora, but European settlement in the 15th and 16th centuries brought disease, killing much of the aborigines. With their loss, vast amounts of information had been lost regarding what plants they used for medicine. By implementing a garden at the Estación Biológica Monteverde in Monteverde, Costa Rica, an educational tool is created to give students first hand knowledge of 30 native medicinal plants found in Costa Rica. A booklet on the 30 plants was developed to educate about the plant description, medicinal uses and preparation of the plant. It is hoped the garden will inspire students to learn about how to use plants for their health and well-being.
Abstract:
La importancia de las plantas ha tenido un papel poderoso para la medicina en toda la historia. Las tribus en Costa Rica han practicado el Chamanismo con la flora nativa, pero el colono Europeo en el decimoquinto, y decimosexto siglo trajeron enfermedades, matando muchos de los aborígenes. Con esta perdida, mucha de la información se ha perdido respecto a las plantas usadas como medicina. Implementando un jardín en la Estación Biológica en Monteverde, Costa Rica, se esta creando una herramienta para dar a los estudiantes conocimientos de primera mano de 30 plantas nativas medicinales que se encuentran en Costa Rica.
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PAGE 1

1 Implementing a Native Medicinal Plant Garden in Monteverde, Costa Rica Cory Howes Department of Environmental Studies Northern Michigan University ABSTRACT The importance of plants has played a powerful role for medicine throughout human history. Tribes in Costa Rica once practiced Shamanism with native flo ra, but European settlement in the 15th and 16th centuries brought disease, killing much of the abor igines. With their loss, vast amounts of informati on had been lost regarding what plants they used for medic ine. By implementing a garden at the Estacin Biolgica Monteverde in Monteverde, Costa Rica, an educational tool is created to give students first hand knowledge of 30 native medicinal plants found in Co sta Rica. A booklet on the 30 plants was developed to educate about the plant description, medicinal uses and preparation of the plant. It is hoped the gar den will inspire students to learn about how to use plants f or their health and wellbeing. RESUME La importancia de las plantas ha tenido un papel po deroso para la medicina en todo la historia. Las t ribus en Costa Rica ha practicado Shamanismo con flora na tiva, pero el colono Europeo en el decimoquinto, y decimosexto siglo trajeron enfermedades, matando mu chos de las aborgenes. Con esta perdida, mucha de la informacin se ha perdido respecto a las plantas usadas como medicina. Implementando un jardn en la Estacin Biolgica Monteverde in Monteverde, Costa Rica, se esta creando una herramienta para dar a lo s estudiantes conocimiento de primera mano de 30 pla ntas nativas medicinales que se encuentran en Costa Rica. Un libro con los 30 plantas se construy par a educar acerca de la descripcin de la planta, los usos medicinales de las planta, y la preparacin de la p lanta. Se espera que el jardn inspire a los estud iantes a entender de cmo usar las plantas por la salud y bi enestar. INTRODUCTION “It’s an irony that while tribal peoples with few r esources strive mightily to keep their ties to the earth, we, with huge resources, strive mightily to leave it behind. We need no more power for the children to live another thousan d years. We need the old wisdoms of the last one hundred thousand, those wisdoms that l ie at the common fundament of all humanity. Wisdom of the different, yet common fami ly. Wisdom of the different, yet common myths. Wisdom of the different, yet common home.” ---David Maybury Lewis (Plotkin and Forsyth 1997) The root word ‘ethno’ comes from the Greek word ‘et hnos’ referring to people. When used before botany, it refers to the study of the i nteractions between people and plants; ethnobotanists are looking into local people’s cult ural significance, knowledge, and use of plants (Martin 1995). Plants have played a signi ficant role in treating people’s ailments

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2 throughout human history. Shamans of aboriginal tr ibes were known to be controllers between the natural world and supernatural world fo rces. They were highly respected for their knowledge of local flora and power of healing Using plants and ceremonial traditions, shamans cured diverse ailments from com mon colds to fatal illnesses (Plotkin 1993). In Costa Rica, many indigenous tribes such as the Trrabas and Bruncas inhabited land on the Pacific slope (Gabb 1875) pra cticing traditional shamanism. When European settlers arrived in the Americas in the fi fteen and sixteenth centuries, disease swept through Central America killing almost all of the indigenous populations in Costa Rica (Costa Rica History and Culture 2006). Despit e the huge losses, knowledge of the medicinal properties of plants was passed through t he generations and is still used by some Costa Ricans today. But it seems that, as Dav id Maybury Lewis said, “we are striving to leave it behind” (Plotkin and Forsyth 1 997). With the western world encroaching, forests are be ing replaced with monoculture, and medicinal plants are being replaced wi th expensive chemical mimics. With this, people are resorting to buying Tylenol when t hey have a headache, or use Nyquil when they have a cold, and are forgetting, or never learning how plants can treat these same ailments. One way to thwart the loss of medic inal plant knowledge, and offer an inexpensive alternative to pharmaceutical products, is to encourage home gardens containing common plants used traditionally for med icinal purposes (Balick et al. 1997). Over 7,500 species of flora have been identified t hat possess alkaloids and approximately 20% of all vascular plants contain th ese secondary compounds (Kricher 1999). Alkaloids are responsible for plant protect ion against herbivory, viruses, bacteria, fungi, and competing plants. They are also the key component to the medicinal property of the plant (Wyk & Wink 2004). Even though much of Costa Rica has been deforested (Gradwohl 1988), it still contains over 10,000 spec ies of plants (Gargiullo et al. 2008). Although the majority have not been explored for th eir medicinal properties, there are numerous native species that have known uses and ca n be easily grown in a garden. It is important that the plants be native to the desired area to attract native pollinators and to avoid the troubles associated with exotic and invas ive species. With increasing habitat destruction, climate chang e, and new patterns of species translocation, species invasions have escalated thr ough out the world (Chornesky & Randall 2003). The spread of invasive species is a nthropogenic (Blumenthal 2005). In Costa Rica, this has been seen with exotic ornament al plants introduced around houses, hotels, and gardens. Once an exotic or invasive sp ecies is introduced to an area, the success and spread of the species is attributed tow ard their escape from disease and herbivory upon moving to a new range (Blumenthal 20 05). A frequently documented effect of invasive species is the loss of native sp ecies through competition, parasitism, and disease, thus resulting in the loss of biodiver sity (Chornesky & Randall 2003). A study done in Bangladesh showed that home gardens c an actually help preserve biodiversity (Kabir & Webb 2008). It is thus essen tial to use native plants when planning a garden. For this project, I proposed to create a garden at the Estacin Biolgica Monteverde, in Monteverde, Costa Rica. The garden will contain 30 native medicinal plants ranging from herbs to trees. The purpose is to create an educational tool that will inform students and visitors about the medicinal an d traditional importance of some

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3 native plants. The garden’s educational value will be enhanced with a booklet of photos and detailed information on the medicinal and tradi tional uses of all 30 species in the garden. MATERIALS AND METHODS Planning for the garden began with designating an a rea just below the Estacin Biolgica Monteverde (Figure 1). The garden has two sections the large being 46 m, and the small being 4.5 m. Yellow marking flags were used to mark the out side of the garden. White string was tied to these marking flags to sho w the outline of the garden. Pink marking flags were used to mark the outer trail tha t surrounds the garden. High school students from the Vermont-based organization “Chang e the World Kids” dug up the grass and prepared the soil. After this, Lorenzo Vargas dug up the trail that surrounds the garden and placed gravel to match the surrounding g arden paths at the biology station. I consulted with Lucas Ramirez, (head of the medic inal plant garden at the Ecolodge in San Luis, Costa Rica), Willow Zuchowski, ( a local flora expert, coordinator of the Monteverde Pro-Nativas project, and author of T ropical Plants of Costa Rica) Karmen Scott, a recent graduate from the University of Oregon with experience working with medicinal plants and gardens), and Karen Maste rs, (another local flora expert, professor, and gardener) to determine what plants t o use. Between the experts, books, and the Missouri Botanical Garden website, 30 nativ e species of medicinal plants were chosen for the garden. I used Microsoft PowerPoint 2003 to create an electronic document in which each species was presented on a s ingle page, with photos and information about its range, medicinal uses, and pr eparation of the plant. The photographs were taken by a Canon SD 450 camera, or found on the internet. Photos were taken of plants at the Eco-lodge in San Luis, and of plants around the Estacin Biolgica Monteverde. RESULTS The majority of the garden was planted on May 11th to coordinate with the rainy season which normally starts around May 15th in Monteverde. Some branches were trimmed off of an oak to provide more sunlight to the garden. After the plants were planted, mulch was laid down to prevent unwanted weed growth. The plants were then watered, and the garden was sprayed down with a hose to hold down th e mulch. Two vines were planted in the small garden (4.5 m), waiting for the arbor to be built, and then will be transplanted to the base of the arbor. The arbor w as designed to be 2 m tall, 1.3m by 1.0 m at the base. Stone slabs were placed in an S-sha pe through the garden as a small path (Figure 2 and 3). A total of 18 species were planted in the garden o n May 11, 2008. The remaining species that were not planted on May 11th are being germinated by Lucas Ramirez at the Eco-lodge and will be available at t he beginning of June, 2008. These plants will be planted by Karen Masters. Tree spec ies ( Croton draco, Gliricidia sepium, Cinchona pubescens, and Quassia amara ) are to be planted in an area prove separate from the main section. A total of four vines ( Hidalgoa ternate, Passiflora biflora, Smilax

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4 spinosa, and Vitis tiliifolia ) will be grown on the arbor. The table below prov ides the species planned to be in the garden and are all fou nd in the booklet. Table 1 : Provides a list of the thirty native medicinal pl ants for the garden at the Estacon Biolgica Monteverde (EBM). It includes the family and species names, and then describes where the plant was obtained and how many were planted this season. “ELSL” signifies that the plants were bought from the nurs ery of the Eco-Lodge in San Luis. “ELSLJune” means that the plant is being grown at the nursery of the Eco-Lodge in San Luis, and will be ready for transplanting in June. “PN” signifies the plant was obtained from Willow Zuchowski and the Pro-Nativa project in Monteverde. EBM mean that the plant was collected on the grounds of the Estacin Biolgica Monteverde. In the Numbers column, blanks mean that they have not been planted as of May 19, 2008. The four tree species will not be grown in the herb sec tion, but in a nearby grove in a nearby grove in the garden (Bernhardt 2008; Fasihuddin & C heksum 2002; Gargiullo et al. 2008; Gentry 1996; Melndez 1984; Navarro et al. 2003; Navas 2007; Ramrez 1992; Robineau 2005; Schultes & Raffauf 1990; Schultes & Reis 1995 ; Wyk & Wink 2004; Zuchowski 2007). Family Species Source Number Planted 1 Acanthaceae Justicia pectoralis PN 6 2 Acanthaceae Dicliptera unguiculata ELSL 1 3 Acanthaceae Justicia tictoria ELSL-June 4 Apiaceae Eryngium foetidium ELSL-June 5 Apocyanceae Asclepias curassavica PN 2 6 Asteraceae Vernonia arborescens ELSL 1 7 Asteraceae Chaptalia nutans PN 2 8 Asteraceae Hidalgoa ternata EBM 9 Asteraceae Neurolaena lobata ELSL-June 10 Buddlejaceae Buddleja americana ELSL 1 11 Chenopodiaceae Chenopodium ambrosioides ELSL 1 12 Euphorbiaceae Croton draco ELSL-June 13 Equisetaceae Equisetum bogotense ELSL-June 14 Lamiaceae Ocimum campechianum ELSL-June 15 Malvaceae Sida rhombifolia EBM 3 16 Mimosoideae Mimosa pudica EBM 3 17 Papilionaceae Gliricidia sepium ELSL-June 18 Passifloraceae Passiflora biflora ELSL-June 19 Phytolaccaceae Petiveria alliacea ELSL-June 20 Piperaceae Piper umbellatum PN 3 21 Plantaginaceae Plantago australis EBM 8 22 Rubiaceae Cinchona pubescens ELSL-June 23 Rubiaceae Hamelia patens PN 3 24 Simaroubaceae Quassia amara ELSL-June

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5 25 Smilacaceae Smilax spinosa PN 1 26 Solanaceae Capsicum annuum ELSL 2 27 Tiliaceae Triunfetta semitriloba ELSL-June 28 Verbenacea Lippia alba ELSL 2 29 Verbenacea Phyla dulcis ELSL 1 30 Vitaceae Vitis tiliifolia PN 3 The medicinal plant booklet contains a total of 30 species, presented on separate pages. Plants are listed in alphabetical order by family name, and the species name is found underneath it. Each plant was designated its own page with colored photographs. Underneath the photograph the English and Spanish c ommon names, range, description, medicinal uses, preparation, and other interesting facts, are listed in that order for each species. At the end is a short guide on how to mak e different preparations of plants, and a small glossary of difficult terms used in the boo klet. The booklet is a total of 33 pages. Figure 1 : The garden plot marked with yellow flags and stri ng to show the out side shape. Pink flags marked the trail. Photo taken A pril 13, 2008.

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6 Figure 2: From left to right: Alex Fitzsimmons, Cory Howes, L ucas Ramirez, Willow Zuchowski, and Karmen Scott; photo taken by Karen M asters during garden planting on May 11, 2008. Figure 3: Garden after trail work was completed; May 15, 2008

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7 DISCUSSION A native medicinal plant garden at the Estacin Bio lgica Monteverde is an ideal educational tool for students to begin learning abo ut the diverse native medicinal flora that Costa Rica has to offer. It is very important that the garden consists of only native plant species. It would not make sense to bring in flora from another part of the world when Costa Rica is so rich in native plant diversit y. This will also, in turn, attract native pollinators to the area by providing food and other resources (California Native Plant Society 2003). For students working on future proj ect involving pollination, the garden may be a magnet for native pollinators and make a g ood study site. The garden is designed to accommodate groups of up to 30 students. With three different entrance points, and room to spread out i n and around the perimeter, the garden should be visible and accessible to large groups. The stone path through the middle of the garden should allow students to get a closer lo ok at the plants in the center of the garden. In addition to learning about how to identify the plants, the medicinal uses, and how to prepare the plants, I hope that the garden c an be used to aid in the health of the people. Considering the garden size, it will not b e able to supply leaves, bark, or sap to treat large amounts of people, but it does give a p erson first hand knowledge of what the plant looks like. With this knowledge a person can then identify the plant elsewhere, collect the desired part of the plant, and use it. In creating the garden, we have converted grass in to an aesthetically pleasing area where students will enjoy the beautiful colors, sha pes, and scents of the vegetation and flowers. Red and orange flowers from H. patens or A. curassavica and the powerful odor from L. alba will bring the landscape a step closer to how it u sed to be. Once one enters the garden through the arbor, they will be s urrounded by the plants that people of Costa Rica have used traditionally. This will prov ide an opportunity to learn the importance of medicinal plants in human history, an d how to use them now and into the future. fAs David Maybury Lewis said, we need to “ bring our ties back to the earth” (Plotkin and Forsyth 1997). By implementing a medicinal plant garden at the bio logy station, we are taking a step towards that directio n. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to thank Lucas Ramirez for all his hel p with germinating plants for the garden, supplying information about local use of pl ants, and giving Karen Masters and I a tour of the medicinal plant garden in San Luis. Th ank you so much Karen Masters for allowing me to do this wonderful project and guidin g me along the way. The ideas for garden layout were very helpful and thank you for h elping me implement the garden before my departure. Thank you Willow Zuckowski fo r your help in retrieving plants, supplying expert advice, and helping with the plant ing. Thank you Karmen Scott for giving me a tour of Margret’s medicinal garden, hel ping plant the garden, supplying lots

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8 of medicinal plant information, and translating som e of the Spanish medicinal plant books. Thank you Alex Fitzsimmons for your help w ith plant specifics and planting the garden. Thank you Pablo Allen for your help in tra nslating the Spanish medicinal plant books. I would like to thank the biology station f or allowing the space to implement a native medicinal plant garden. I would like to tha nk the students who volunteered their time to dig up the garden, and Lorenzo Vargas who m ade the gravel path that surrounds the garden. LITERATURE CITED Bernhardt, E. 2008. Medicinal Plants of Costa Rica. Distribuidores de la Zona Tropical, S.A. California Native Plant Society. 2003. Why grow nat ive plants? http://cnps.org/activities/ grow.html. May 15, 2008. Costa Rica History and Culture. 2006. Inter-Knowled ge Corp. http://ww.geographia.com/ costa-rica/history.htm. May 13, 2008. Balick, M. J., R. Mendelsohn, R. Arvigo, AND G. Shr opshire. 1997. Valuation of Extractive Medicines in Tropical Forests Exploring the Linkage to Conservation. Essay 15E. New York Botanical Garden. In. Meffe, G. K., and C. R. Carroll. 1997. Principles of Conservation Biology Second Ed ition. Sinauer Associates, Inc. Publishers. Sunderland, Massachusetts. Pp. 53 5-536. Blumenthal, D. 2005. Interrelated Causes of Plant Invasion. Science, Vol. 310. 243-244. Chornesky, E. A. AND J. M. Randall. 2003. The Threa t of Invasive Alien Species to Biological Diversity: Setting a Future Course. Ann Missouri Bot. Gard. 90: 6776. Fasihuddin, B. A. AND T. Cheksum. 2002. Phytochemic al Studies on Piper Umbellatum Kota Samarahan, Sarawak, Malaysia. Kabir, E. AND E. L. Webb. 2008. Can Home Gardens Co nserve Biodiversity in Bangledesh? Biotropica 40(1): 95-103. Kricher, J. 1999. A Neotropical Companion, Second E dition. Princeton University Press. New Jersey. Gabb, M. 1875. Proceeding the American Philosophica l Society, Vol 14, No. 95, pp. 483602.

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9 Gargiullo, M. B., B. Magnuson, AND L. Kimball. 2008 A Field Guide to Plants of Costa Rica. Zona Tropical Publication. Oxford University Press. Gentry, A. H. 1996. The Families and Genera of Wood y Plants of Northwest South America (Columbia, Ecuador, Peru). The University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London. Gradwohl, J. AND R. Greenberg. 1988. Save the Trop ical Forests. Island Press. Washington, D.C. Pp. 76. Martin, G. 1995. Ethnobotany. Chapman and Hall. Lon don. Melndez, E. N. 1984. Plantas Medicinales de Costa Rica y su Folclore. Editorial de la Universidad de Costa Rica. San Jos. Navarro, M. C., M. P. Montilla, M. M. Cabo, M. Gali steo, A. Carceres, A. Morales, AND I. Berger. 2003. Antibacterial, antiprotozoal and antioxidante activity of five Plants used in Izabal for infectious diseases. htt p://www3.interscience.wiley.com /joural/104525346/abstract?CRETRY=1&STRETRY=0. May 12, 2008. Navas, R. H. 2007. La Utilidad de las Plantas Medic inales en Costa Rica. Euna. Heredia, Costa Rica. Plotkin, M. J. 1993. Tales of a Shaman’s Apprentice Penguin Group. New York. Plotkin, M. J. AND Forsyth, A. 1997. Retaining Indi genous Knowledge Systems as a Management Tool. Conservation International. Essay 11B. In. Meffe, G. K., and C. R. Carroll. 1997. Principles of Conservation Bi ology Second Edition. Sinauer Associates, Inc. Publishers. Sunderland, Massachus etts. Pp. 355-356. Ramrez, M. J. 1992. Algunas Plantas Sanativas de C osta Rica. Procesadora de Impresos Fino S.A., San Jos. Costa Rica. Robineau, L. 2005. TRAMIL Farmacopea Vegetal Caribe na. Nicaragua: Editorial Universitaria, UNAN-Len. Schultes, R. E. AND R. F. Raffauf. 1990. The Healin g Forest. Dioscorides Press. Hong Kong. Schultes, R. E., AND S. V. Reis. 1995. Ethnobotany: Evolution of a Discipline. Dioscorides Press, Portland, Oregon. Wyk, V. W., AND M. Wink. 2004. Medicinal Plants of the World. Timber Press, Portland, Oregon.

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10 Zuchowski, W. 2007. Tropical Plants of Costa Rica: A Guide to Native and Exotic Flora. Zona Tropical Publication. Cornell University Pres s, Ithaca and London.


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The importance of plants has played a powerful role for medicine throughout human history. Tribes in Costa Rica once practiced Shamanism with native flora, but European settlement in the 15th and 16th centuries brought disease, killing much of the aborigines. With their loss, vast amounts of information had been lost regarding what plants they used for medicine. By implementing a garden at the Estacin Biolgica Monteverde in Monteverde, Costa Rica, an educational tool is created to give students first hand knowledge of 30 native medicinal plants found in Costa Rica. A booklet on the 30 plants was developed to educate about the plant description, medicinal uses and preparation of the plant. It is hoped the garden will inspire students to learn about how to use plants for their health and well-being.
La importancia de las plantas ha tenido un papel poderoso para la medicina en toda la historia. Las tribus en Costa Rica han practicado el Chamanismo con la flora nativa, pero el colono Europeo en el decimoquinto, y decimosexto siglo trajeron enfermedades, matando muchos de los aborgenes. Con esta perdida, mucha de la informacin se ha perdido respecto a las plantas usadas como medicina. Implementando un jardn en la Estacin Biolgica en Monteverde, Costa Rica, se esta creando una herramienta para dar a los estudiantes conocimientos de primera mano de 30 plantas nativas medicinales que se encuentran en Costa Rica.
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