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Public tour planned at KU medicinal garden Saturday

Thursday, September 20, 2012

LAWRENCE — The public is invited to the annual fall tour of the University of Kansas Native Medicinal Plant Research Garden at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 22.

The medicinal garden was developed as part of the KU Native Medicinal Plant Research Program, a collaboration between the medicinal chemistry lab of Barbara Timmermann, University Distinguished Professor and chair of medicinal chemistry, and the botany lab of Kelly Kindscher, a senior scientist at the Kansas Biological Survey and a professor in KU's Environmental Studies Program.

KU announced in March that, through the program's research, 14 new natural chemical compounds had been discovered in Physalis longifolia, the wild tomatillo, that showed significant anti-cancer properties in preclinical testing.

"The gardens established by the program, including the medicinal research garden and the Heim Memorial Garden, the medicinal plant garden at the School of Pharmacy, have had hundreds of visitors since they were installed in 2010 and 2011, respectively."

Kindscher will lead Saturday's tour of the research garden.

"Students and members of the public continue to come to our gardens and our program to learn about these highly important medicinal plants, the history of their use, their place in the ecosystem and the research that verifies their medicinal properties," Kindscher said. "We are so fortunate to have great students working with us and this wonderful garden site as a resource."

The garden serves as a gateway to the KU Field Station, as it is the first of several KU Field Station sites on East 1600 Road in Douglas County north of Highway 40. KU students, as well as Haskell Indian Nations University students involved in KU science labs through the KU-Haskell RISE Fellowship program, are involved in maintenance and research at the garden. Land for the garden site was made available by KU Endowment.

Students in the fields of environmental studies, engineering, journalism, architecture, fine arts and geology all have taken part in projects at the garden. In addition, KU students, faculty and staff from many fields participate in the KU Student Farm at the same site.

This year's summer garden tour, which was June 16, drew more than 80 attendees, ranging from toddlers to visitors in their 80s. The garden pathways are ADA-compliant.

Features of the garden include:
• Research plantings — This 50-by-260-foot space includes large beds of 25 species of native plants, including wild tomatillo, echinacea, yarrow, various mints, white sage, milkweeds, stinging nettle and others.

• Demonstration/show garden — This 70-by-80-foot garden, just inside the gate at the research garden, is thriving in its second year of growth and includes six different themed beds of medicinal plants.

• KU Student Farm—Conceived by KU students in 2010 through a class project, this community garden in 2012 has had more than 40 individual plots maintained by more than 80 KU students, faculty and staff.

The garden site is open to the public dawn to dusk. The website of the Native Medicinal Plant Research Program is here.


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