Implementing a native medicinal plant garden in Monteverde, Costa Rica


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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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Howes, Cory
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Text in English

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Medicinal plants ( lcsh )
Plantas medicinales ( lcsh )
School gardens ( lcsh )
Jardines escolares ( lcsh )
Monteverde Biological Station (Costa Rica)
Estación Biológica de Monteverde (Costa Rica)
CIEE Spring 2008
CIEE Primavera 2008
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Reports

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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 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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Student affiliation: Department of Environmental Studies, Northern Michigan University
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Monteverde Institute
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Monteverde Institute
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m39.38 ( USFLDC Handle )

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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 medici ne throughout human history . Tr ibes in Costa Rica once practiced S hamanism with native flora , but European settlement in the 15 th and 16 th centuries brought disease, killing much of the aborigines. With their loss, vast amounts of information had been lost regarding what plants they us ed for medicine. By implementing a g arden 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 w as 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 wellbeing . RESUME La imp ortancia de las plantas ha tenid o un papel poderoso pa r a la medicina en todo la historia. La s tribus en Costa Rica ha practicado Shamanism o con flora nativa , pero el colono Europeo en el de cimoquinto, y decimosexto siglo trajeron enfermedad es, matando mucho s de las aborígenes . Con est a perdida , mucha de la información se ha p erdido respecto a las plantas usa das como medicina. Implementando un jardín en la Estación Biológica Monteverde in Monteverde, Costa Rica, se esta creando un a herramienta para dar a los estudiantes conocimiento d e primera mano de 30 plantas nativas medicinales que se encuentra n en Costa Rica. Un libro con los 30 plantas se construyó para educar acerca de la descripción de la planta, los usos medicinales de las planta, y la preparación de la planta. Se espera qu e el jardín inspire a los estudiantes a entender de cómo usar las plantas por la salud y bienestar. INTRODUCTION €Its an irony that while tribal peoples with few resources strive mightily to keep their ties to the earth, we, with huge resources, str ive mightily to leave it behind. We need no more power for the children to live another thousand years. We need the old wisdoms of the last one hundred thousand, those wisdoms that lie at the common fundament of all humanity. Wisdom of the different, ye t common family. 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 € ethnos  referring to people. When us ed before botany, it refers to the study of the interactions between people and plants; ethnobotanists are looking into local people  s cultural significance, knowledge, and use of plants Martin 1995. Plants have played a significant role in treating peop les ailments

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2 throughout human history. Shamans of aboriginal tribes were known to be controllers between the natural world and supernatural world forces. They were highly respected for their knowledge of local flora and power of healing. Using plants a nd cer emonial traditions, shamans cured diverse ailments from common colds to fatal illnesses Plotkin 1993. In Costa Rica , many indigenous tribes such as the Té rrabas and Bruncas in habited land on the Pacific slope Gabb 1875 practicing traditional s hamanism . When European settlers arrived in the Americas in the fifteen and sixteenth ce nturies, disease swept through Central America killing almo st all of the indigenous population s in Costa Rica Costa Rica History and Culture 2006 . Despite t he huge losses, knowledge of the medicinal properties of plants was passed through the generations and is still used by some Costa Ricans today . But it seems that , as David Maybury Lewis said, ‚ we are striving to leave it behind ƒ Plotkin and Forsyth 1997 . With the western world encroaching, forests are being replaced with mono culture, and medicinal plants are being replaced with expensive chemical mimics. With this, people are resorting to buying Tylenol when they 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 medicinal plant knowledge, and offer an inexpensive alternative to pharmaceutical products, is to encourage home gardens containing comm on plants used traditionally for medicinal purposes Balick et al. 1997 . Over 7,500 species of flora have been i dentified that possess al kaloids and approximately 20% of all vascular plants contain these secondary compounds Kricher 1999. A lkaloids a re responsible for plant protection against herbivory , viruses, bacteria, fungi, and competing plants . They are also the key component to the m edicinal property of the plant Wyk & Wink 2004. Even though much of Costa Rica has been deforested Gradwohl 1988 , it still contains over 10,000 species of plants Gargiullo et al. 2008. Although the majority have not been explored for their medicinal properties, there are numerous native species that have known uses and can 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 invasive species. With increasing habitat destruction, climate change, and new patterns of species translocation, species invasions have escalated through out the world Chornesky & Randall 2003 . The spread of invasive species is anthropogenic Blumenthal 2005 . In Costa Rica, this has been seen with exotic ornamental plants introduced around houses, hotels, and g ardens. Once an exotic or invasive species is introduced to an area, the success and spread of the species is attributed toward their escape from disease and herbivory upon moving to a new range Blumenthal 2005. A frequent ly documented e ffect of invasi ve species is the loss of native specie s through competition , parasitism, and disease , thus resulting in the loss of biodiversity Chornesky & Randall 2003. A study done in Bangladesh showed that home gardens can actually help preserve bi odiversity Kabi r & Webb 2008. It is thus essential to use native plants when planning a garden. For this project, I proposed to create a garden at the Estación Biológica Monteverde, in Monteverde, Costa Rica. T he 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 and 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 d etailed information on the medicinal and traditional uses of all 30 species in the garden. MATERIALS AND METHODS Planning for th e garden began with designating an area just below t he Estación Biológica Monteverde Figure 1 . The garden has two sections, the large being 46 m², and the small being 4.5 m² . Yellow marking flags were used to mark the out side of the garden. White string was tied to these marking flags to show the outline of the garden. Pink marking flags were used to mark the outer trail t hat surrounds the garde n. High school s tudents from the Vermont based organization ‚Change the World Kidsƒ 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 surrou nding garden paths at the biology station. I consulted with Lucas Ramirez, head of the medicinal plant garden at the Eco lodge in San L uis, Costa Rica, Willow Zuchowski, a local flora expert , coordinator of the Monteverde Pro Nativas project, and autho r of Tropical Plants of Costa Rica , Karmen Scott, a recent graduate from the University of Oregon with experience working with medicinal plants and gardens , and Karen Masters, a nother local flora e xpert, professor, and gardener to determine what plants to use. Between the experts, books , and the Missouri Botanical Garden website, 30 native species of medicinal plan ts 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 preparation 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 Estación Biológica Monteverde. RESULTS The majority of the garden was planted on May 11 th to coordinate with the rainy season which normally starts around May 15 th in Monteverde. Some branches were trimmed off of an oak to provide more sunl ight 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 the mulch. Two vines were planted in the small garden 4.5 m² , waiting for the arbor to be built , and then will be transplanted to the base of the arbor. T he arbor was designed to be 2 m tall, 1.3m by 1.0 m at the base. Stone slabs were placed in an S shape through the garden as a small path Figure 2 and 3. A t otal of 18 species were planted in the garden on May 11, 2008. The remaining species that were not planted on May 11 th are being germinated by Lucas Ramirez at the Eco lodge and will be available at the beginning of June , 2008 . These plants will be plan ted by Karen Masters. Tree species 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, an d Vitis tiliifolia will be grown on the arbor. The table be low provides the species planned to be in the garden and are all found in the booklet. Table 1 : Provides a list of the thirty native medicinal plants for the garden at the Estac ión Biol ógica Mo nteverde EBM . It includes the family and species names, and then describes w here the plant was obtained and how many were planted this season . ‚ELSLƒ signifies that the plants were bought from the nursery of the Eco Lodge in San Luis. ‚ELSL Juneƒ mea ns that the plant is being grown at the nursery of the Eco Lodge in San Luis, and will be ready for transplanting in June. ‚PNƒ signifies the plant was obtained from Willow Zuchowski and the Pro Nativa project in Monteverde. EBM mean that the plant was c ollected on the grounds of the Estación Biológica 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 section, but in a nearby grove in a nearby grove in t he garden Bernhardt 2008; Fasihuddin & Cheksum 2002; Gargiullo et al. 2008; Gentry 1996; Meléndez 1984; Navarro et al. 2003; Navas 2007; Ramírez 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 Asteracea e 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 Simaroubacea e 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 c ontains a total of 30 species, presented on separate pages. P lants 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 common name s , range, description, medicinal uses, preparation, and o ther interesting facts, are listed in that order for each species . At the end is a short guide on how to make different preparations o f plants, and a small glossary of difficult terms used in the booklet. The booklet is a total of 33 pages. Figure 1 : The g arden plot marked with yellow flags and string to show the out side shape. Pink flags mark ed the trail. Photo taken Apr il 13, 2008 .

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6 Figure 2 : From left to right: Alex Fitzsimmons , Cory Howes, Lucas Ramirez, Willow Zuchowski, and Karmen Scott ; p hoto taken by K aren Masters 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 medi cinal plant garden at the Estación Biológica Monteverde is an ideal educational tool for students to begin learn ing about the diverse native medicinal flora that Costa Rica has to offer. It is very impor tant that the garden consists of only native plant species. I t would not make sense to bring in flora from another part of the world when Costa Rica is so rich in native plant diversity. This will also , in turn , attract native pollinators to t he area by providing food and other resources California Native Plant Society 2003. For students working on futu re project involving pollination , the garden may be a magnet for native pollinators and make a good study site. The garden is designed to accommodate groups of up to 30 students. With three different entrance points , and room to spread out in 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 look 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 can be used to aid in the health of the people. Considering the garden size, it will not be able to supply leaves, bark, or sap to treat large amounts of people, but it does give a person 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 into an a esthetically pleasing area where students will enjoy the beautiful colors, shapes, and scents of the vegetation and flowers. Red and orange flowers from H. patens , or A . cur assavica , and the powerful odor from L. alba will bring the landscape a step closer to how it used to be. Once one enters the garden through the arbor, they will be surrounded by the plants that people of Costa Rica have used tradition ally. This will provide an opportunity to learn the importance of medicinal plants in human history, and how to use them now and into the future. f As David M aybury Lewis said, we need to ‚bring our ties back to the earth ƒ Plotkin and Forsyth 1997 . By implementing a medicinal plant garden at the biology station, we are taking a step towards that direction. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to thank Lucas Ramirez for all his help with germinating plants for the garden, supplying information about loca l use of plants, and giving Karen Masters and I a tour of the medicinal plant garden in San Luis. Thank you so much Karen Masters for allowing me to do this wonderful project and guiding me along the way. The ideas for garden layout were very helpful and thank you for helping me implement the garden before my departure. Thank you Willow Zuckowski for your help in retrieving plants, supplying expert advice , and helping with the planting. Thank you Karmen Scott for giving me a tour of Margrets medicinal garden, helping plant the garden, supplying lots of medicinal plant information, and translating some of the Spanish medicinal plan t books. Thank you Alex Fitzsimmons for your help with plant specific s and planting the garden. Thank you Pablo Allen for your help in translating the Spanish medicina l plant books. I would like to thank the biology station for allowing the space to implement a

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8 native medicinal plant garden. I would like to thank the students who volunteered their time to dig up the garden, and Lorenzo Vargas who made 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 native plants? h ttp://cnps.org/activities/ grow.html. May 15, 2008. Costa Rica History and Culture . 2006. Inter Knowledge Corp. http://ww.geographia.com/ costa rica/history.htm . May 13, 2008. Balick, M. J., R. Mendelsohn, R. Arvigo, AND G. Shropshire. 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 Edition. Sinauer Associates, Inc. Publisher s. Sunderland, Massachusetts. Pp. 535 536. Blumenthal, D. 2005. Interrelated Causes of Plant Invasion. Science, Vol. 310. 243 244. Chornesky, E. A. AND J. M. Randall. 2003. The Threat of Invasive Alien Species to Biological Diversity: Setting a Future Course. Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 90: 67 76. Fasihuddin, B. A. AND T. Cheksum. 2002. Phytochemical Studies on Piper Umbellatum Kota Samarahan, Sarawak, Malaysia. Kabir, E. AND E. L. Webb. 2008. Can Home Gardens Conserve Biodiversity in Bangledesh? B io tropica 401: 95 103. Kricher, J. 1999. A N eotropical Companion, Second Edition. Princeton University Press. New Jersey. Gabb, M. 1875. Proceeding the American Philosophical Society, Vol 14, No. 95, pp. 483 602. Gargiullo, M. B., B. Magnuson, AND L. Kimball. 2008. A Field Guide to Plants of Costa Rica. Zona Tropical Publication. Oxford University Press.

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9 Gentry, A. H. 1996. The Families and Genera of Woody Plants of Northwest South America Columbia, Ecuador, Peru. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London. Gradwohl, J. AND R. Greenberg. 1988. Save the Tropical Forests. Island Press. Washington, D.C. Pp. 76. Martin, G. 1995. Ethnobotany. Chapman and Hall. London. Meléndez, E. N. 1984. Plantas Medicinales de Costa Rica y su Folc lore. Editorial de la Universidad de Costa Rica. San José. Navarro, M. C., M. P. Montilla, M. M. Cabo, M. Galisteo, A. Carceres, A. Morales, AND I. Berger. 2003. Antibacterial, antiprotozoal and antioxidante activity of five Plants used in Izabal fo r infectious diseases. http://www3.interscience.wiley.com /joural/104525346/abstract?CRETRY=1&STRETRY=0 . May 12, 2 008. Navas, R. H. 2007. La Utilidad de las Plantas Medicinales en Costa Rica. Euna. H eredia, Costa Rica. Plotkin, M. J. 1993. Tales of a Shamans Apprentice. Penguin Group. New York. Plotkin, M. J. AND Forsyth, A. 1997. Retaining Indigenous Knowledge Systems as a Management Tool. Conservation International. Essay 11B. In . Meffe, G. K., and C. R. Carroll. 1997. Principles of Conservation Biology Second Edition. Sinauer Associates, Inc. Publishers. Sunderland, Massachusetts. Pp. 355 356. Ramìrez, M. J. 1992. Algunas Plantas Sanativas de Costa Rica. Procesadora de Impresos Fino S.A. , San José. Costa Rica. Robineau, L. 2005. TRAMIL Farmacopea Vegetal Caribena. Nicaragua: Editorial Universitaria, UNAN León. Schultes, R. E. AND R. F. Raffauf. 1990. The Healing 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. Zuchowski, W. 2007. Tropical Plants of Costa Rica: A Guide to Native and Exotic Flora. Zona Tropical Publication. Cornell University Press, 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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