Garden of Malabar

Hortus Malabaricus Palm Berries

Hortus Indicus Malabaricus is a comprehensive treatise that deals with the medicinal properties of the flora in the Indian state of Kerala.
The first volume was published in 1678, and the last in 1703.
Among the contributors and editors were physicians, professors of botany, amateur botanists, technicians, illustrators, and engravers. And assistance came from the King of Cochin and the ruling Zamorin of Calicut.

Much western lore was rejected, as was the Arabic classification of plants. And it was found that when questioned, the Brahmin scholars always depended on the field workers for precise answers.
So the book employs a system of classification based on the traditions adopted by the practitioners of that region, and the medical information presented in the work was extracted from palm leaf manuscripts passed down through the family of local ayurvedic doctor, Itty Achudan, in which were recorded names of medicinal plants, methods of preparation, the application of drugs, and the illnesses for which they were used.

A certificate states:
. . .  According to the Command of Commodore Henrik van Rheede, the trees, shrubs, twines and herbs and their flowers, fruits, seeds, juices and roots and their powers and properties described in the famed book of the Malayalee physician born at Carrapurram, of the Ezhava caste and of the name Colladan, have been dictated separately in Portuguese language and Malayalam language. Thus, for writing this truthfully, without any doubt, my signature . . . (attested 19th April I675)

Later, the plants were arranged at the University of Leiden garden exactly as prescribed by Achuden and his fellow Ezhavas.
Linnaeus subsequently adopted the same method of classification in 1740, as did many other scientists who followed.

http://historicalleys.blogspot.com/2010/01/itty-achutan-and-hortus-malabaricus.html

 

All the country around was diligently searched by the natives best acquainted with the habitats of plants; and fresh specimens were brought to Cochin where the Carmelite Mathaeus sketched them, with such striking accuracy, that there was no difficulty in identifying each particular species when you see his drawings. Names of each species is written in Malayalam as well as Konkani (Then known as Brahmananchi Bhas) A description of each plant was written in Malayalam and thence translated into Portuguese, by a resident at Cochin, named Emmanuel Carneiro. The Secretary to Government, Herman Van Douep, further translated it into Latin, that the learned in all the countries of Europe might have access to it. The whole seems then to have passed under the supervision of another learned individual named Casearius, who was probably a Dutch Chaplain and a personal friend of Hendrik van Rheede, who was the Governor of Dutch Malabar. The book confers honour, both on those who compiled it and the place where it was compiled.

 
T. Whitehouse, 1859, Historical Notices of Cochin on the Malabar Coast

 

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Herbs, Plants, Stones

ligozzi poppyJacopo Ligozzi (1547 – 1627)
Opium Poppy


O, mickle is the powerful grace that lies
In herbs, plants, stones, and their true qualities.
For naught so vile that on the earth doth live
But to the earth some special good doth give.
Nor aught so good but, strained from that fair use
Revolts from true birth, stumbling on abuse.
Virtue itself turns vice, being misapplied,
And vice sometime by action dignified.

William Shakespeare (1564 – 1613)
Friar Laurence, Romeo and Juliet

De Materia Medica

Πεδάνιος Διοσκουρίδης (Pedanius Dioscorides) circa 40—90 AD

Πεδάνιος Διοσκουρίδης (Pedanius Dioscorides) circa 40—90 AD

Plantae Medicinales Officinalis

Christian Gottfried Daniel Nees von Esenbeck (1776 – 1858) was a prolific German botanist, physician, zoologist, and natural philosopher. He was a contemporary of Goethe and was born within the lifetime of Linnaeus. He described approximately 7,000 plant species.
W

Trees are a living miracle.

waldmueller treeFerdinand Georg Waldmüller (1793 – 1865)
O
ld Grove

 

Diana Beresford-Kroeger is a native of Ireland who has bachelor’s degrees in medical biochemistry and botany.
She favors what she terms a bioplan, reforesting cities and rural areas with trees according to the medicinal, environmental, nutritional, pesticidal and herbicidal properties she claims for them, which she calls ecofunctions.

Ms. Beresford-Kroeger is also concerned about the fate of the Northern forests because of overharvest and the destruction of ecosystems.
Federal scientists estimate more than 93 percent of old growth has been cut.
As forests are fragmented, they dry out, losing wildlife and insect species. As a result, subtle relationships, the nerve system of biodiversity, are breaking down before they have been studied.

“In a walk through old growth forest, there are thousands if not millions of chemicals and their synergistic effects with one another,” she said. “What trees do chemically in the environment is something we’re only beginning to understand.”

Edward O. Wilson, a Harvard biologist, said that more research into the role of trees in the ecosystem was imperative and that it was alarming how little was known. “We need more research of this kind to use the things we have, such as trees, to their fullest,” he said.

Both Dr. Wilson and Ms. Beresford-Kroeger proposed using stock from old-growth forests for planting new forest in the hopes of taking advantage of good genetics. “There’s an enormous difference between old-growth forests and tree plantations,” Dr. Wilson said.

A recent study by researchers at Columbia found that children in neighborhoods that are tree-lined have asthma rates a quarter less than in neighborhoods without trees. The Center for Urban Forest Research estimates that each tree removes 1.5 pounds of pollutants from the air. Trees are also used to remove mercury and other pollutants from the ground, something called phytoremediation.

And, of course, trees store carbon dioxide, which mitigates global warming.

“Trees are a living miracle,” Ms. Beresford-Kroeger said. “Leaves can take in carbon dioxide and create oxygen. And all creatures must have oxygen.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/12/science/12prof.html