Hortus Medicus at the Massachusetts Medical Society in Waltham, Massachusetts
The Massachusetts Medical Society in Waltham, MA is home to a number of architectural and garden designs chosen with two design themes: (1) nature, (2) medical history and tradition. Though all of the MMS gardens share the two themes, Hortus Medicus is considered the signature garden. Every medieval European university that had a medical school had a medicinal plant garden tended by medical students. Using the academic lingua franca of that time, these gardens were called Hortus medicus, Latin for the medicinal garden.
Since prehistoric times, in all ages, in all civilizations and in all quadrants of the globe, plants have been proven to have or have been thought to have medicinal properties. There are more than one thousand four hundred plants including trees, shrubs, and groundcovers in the plant kingdom that are considered to be medicinal plants. In the Linneal binomial system of plant taxonomy, more than sixty plants have been given the species name officinalis, officinale or officinarum. The group has a great deal of diversity and it includes a rose, a peony, several culinary herbs, and several vegetables.
The MMS Hortus Medicus features plants with known medicinal values as well as those that do not have or have not yet been scientifically proven to have medicinal value. There are more than sixty varieties of plants growing in Hortus Medicus and many more scattered throughout the MMS gardens.
For a list of medicinal plants in the MMS Gardens, go to http://www.piam.com/mms_garden/plants.html