New Medicinal Plants Course to be Offered at Delaware Valley University

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Students and local residents will have the option of taking a new course on medicinal plants through Delaware Valley University in the spring 2019 semester. The new course, which will be open to visiting students, has been approved to be offered every spring semester. Students will learn about the science of medicinal plants, their cultural significance, and research, but will not be handling medical cannabis or CBD oil. The course is meant to provide a background and understanding of medicinal plants and their role in culture, medicine, and history that can be applied in a variety of industries. 

The three-credit course is being offered in response to the growing demand for education on medicinal plants. The goal of adding the new elective is to help increase job placement for current students studying horticulture, crop science, sustainable agriculture systems, landscape architecture, landscape design, horticultural therapy, environmental science, conservation and wildlife management, animal science, food science, chemistry, and biology. 

“This new course will help meet the needs of students who express strong interest in human health, the herbal industry, healthy living, alternative crops, and conservation of natural resources,” said Michael Fleischacker, chair of the University’s Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Sciences. 

The course will also provide an opportunity for professional development for area residents and, may appeal to master gardeners and employees of pharmaceutical companies in the region.

Medicinal Plants was offered as an experimental course for the first time in early 2018 and received positive feedback from students.  

Dr. Mingwang Liu, a faculty member with a Ph.D. in plant science and botanical expertise and extensive knowledge about medicinal plants, will teach the class. 

Students will learn in a small group and participate in field trips that will take them out of the classroom for hands-on, real-world experiences. Students will explore the University’s Henry Schmieder Arboretum; Barefoot Botanicals, a certified organic local farm; the Benjamin Rush Medicinal Plant Garden, which is located at the Mutter Museum; Peace Valley Lavender Farm; Bartram's Garden, a botanical garden in Philadelphia; and pharmaceutical companies and clinics that use medicinal plants. 

“The course will strengthen the curriculum and student success for landscape architecture, landscape design, horticultural therapy, environmental sciences, plant science, horticulture, and agriculture,” said Fleischacker. “By taking this course, students will develop specialized skills and knowledge that is in demand due to the growing public interest in medicinal plants, healthy lifestyles, and curbing high medical expenses. This type of experience will help with expanding students' employment market.”

Students will learn about human health philosophies of diverse cultures and societies; the history and practice of herbal medicine; the properties of phytochemicals and therapeutic values; the botanical and medical significance of medicinal plants; and fundamental plant taxonomy. They will also learn to identify commonly used woody and herbaceous medicinal plants; examine their uses and cultivation; discuss biodiversity and sustainability of medicinal plants as alternative crops; and learn about research developments, applications and legislation related to medicinal plants.

“This course will give students a chance to gain a deeper understanding of how plants can be used for healing,” said Fleischacker. “Students will look at medical applications, healing gardens, and horticultural therapy applications. They will also explore and evaluate other aspects of medicinal plants from science and misconceptions to law and politics.”

Learn more about registering for this course, by contacting Continuing and Professional Studies at or 215.489.2904.