North County Attractions Encinitas
San Diego Botanic Garden re-opened this week, but there’s new rules and limitations. Photo credit: @sdbgarden, via Twitter

The San Diego Botanic Garden has received a $384,000 grant from the Conrad Prebys Foundation to open a national medicinal plants collection.

During the next year, the garden and collaborators at the Salk Institute will establish what is expected to become a best-in-class model for the curation and conservation of economic plants and the development of plant-based medicines.

The collection will focus on species used in Western medicine from antiquity to the present, the medicinal plants of indigenous peoples, and medicinal plants of the Southwest, with a focus on San Diego flora.

“The Conrad Prebys Foundation is delighted to fund this project, as it supports our vision for growing a stronger and healthier San Diego through an innovative and collaborative approach,” said Erin Decker, director of grantmaking.

“This national plant collection and consortium form a cutting-edge model that will contribute to both environmental conservation and economic development goals by studying and developing plant-based solutions,” Decker said.

The consortium, which will include local universities, research institutes and Indian tribes, hopes to grow at least 500 medicinal plants, while also developing protocols to optimize drug discovery from the collection.

“In the coming months, we will organize a San Diego-based consortium of scientists and stakeholders from plant biology institutions, drug development researchers, and experts on traditional uses of plant medicines,” said Ari Novy, president and CEO of the garden.

Novy said plans include creating a public medicinal plant garden to teach the more than 200,000 children and adults who visit each year about medicinal flora cultivation, use and discovery.

Established in 1970, San Diego Botanic Garden is a 37-acre natural setting in Encinitas with four miles of trails and nearly 5,300 plant species and varieties.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.