The Dorothy Bradley Atkins Medicinal Plant Garden offers a unique venue for trainees and visitors to learn about medicinal plants and their historic and current uses.
The Dorothy Bradley Atkins Medicinal Plant Garden is a garden oasis in the midst of the busy University of Illinois at Chicago medical center (west) campus situated in the Illinois Medical District located on the corner of Wood and Polk Streets next to the College of Pharmacy. During the spring and summer months, The Atkins Medicinal Plant Garden provides a scenic backdrop for those enjoying a quiet break. Those lunching or reveling in the scents and colors of the Atkins garden may overlook the fact that the plants surrounding them have played a crucial role in the history of medicine. But thanks to the generosity of Dorothy’s husband, Dr. Robert A. Atkins, Dorothy’s life as a pharmacist and her interest in medicinal plants are honored and commemorated by the garden.
Atkins Garden Features Plants Researched by the UIC Botanical Center
Not just an island of beauty and calm on the University of Illinois campus, the Atkins Garden is also a rich resource for educational and research activities with over eighty different medicinal plant species. Featured plants have a long history of use. Before the modern medicine emphasis on synthetic chemistry, these plants provided the primary source of organic chemical compounds used to treat disease. With an increase in the use of dietary supplements derived from plants today, there is a renewed emphasis on the study of these plants and their role in modern health care.
About 180 species of perennial temperate medicinal plant species are planted in the Garden. We see the beauty of this garden at its peak during the summer months, especially during the months of June to August.
Plants are arranged in PLOT locations marked A to J. Each plant is fully labeled, providing the common and scientific name (Latin binomial) of each plant.
The garden features plants under study at the UIC Botanical Center (since 1999) such as Red Clover, Hops, Black Cohosh, and Ginger. Other plants investigated at the UIC College of Pharmacy that grow in the garden include: birch the bark of which is studied for potential anticancer properties and the may apple, which is the source of the anticancer drugs etoposide and teniposide.
The Garden has three goals.
(1) To support research at the UIC College of Pharmacy.
(2) To support teaching at the UIC College of Pharmacy.
(3) To serve as a public education resource on medicinal and dietary supplement plants.
While fulfilling these missions, the Garden serves as a place of solace to members of the university community who take a break during lunch time or at any other time during the day in the summer months to enjoy the beautiful, lush, and colorful scenery.
Dorothy and Bradley Atkins Annual Garden Walk and Community Outreach Event
In an effort to engage and answer questions from the public about botanical dietary supplements and the plant origins of early medicines, Center researchers hold an Annual Garden Walk Event in the summer (typically July/August).
Initiated in 2007 by the Atkins Garden Curator, botanist Dr. Djaja D. Soejarto and PCRPS Director at the time, Dr. Norman R. Farnsworth, the Garden Walk offers a tour of the garden from the perspective of UIC researchers and features a lecture from a distinguished natural products scientist. Visitors also receive a sample of one of the plants grown in the garden which is generally found as an ornamental garden plant.