Digitising physic gardens - Faculty of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences, KNUST shows how

BY: Cephas Kwaku Debrah
 A student scans A QR Code on a plant for information
A student scans A QR Code on a plant for information

Physic garden is a type of botanic garden established in educational facilities for educational and research purposes. These gardens are vital in practical education, most especially in botany.

The Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences physic garden was established in 1980 to grow medicinal plants for academic purposes.

The garden is home to hundreds of endangered and common plant species and has attracted a lot of research work and literature documentations on their pharmacognostic, pharmacological and clinical importance.

                                                                    A plant with a QR Code to be scanned for information

Advances

As learning advances, especially with mobile and wireless communication technologies, there is the need to develop methodologies or tools to assist students in their studies to enhance learners’ experience and also reduce limits caused by space and time.

To that end, the faculty has ensured all plants in the physic garden have been digitised to make researched information about the plants readily available and easily accessible to patrons of the facility.

Labels of each plant in the garden have been modified with special QR codes which bear information on the botanical name, family, vernacular names (Twi, Fante, Ewe, Ga, Dagarte etc.), description, distribution, ethnomedicinal uses, identity tests, purity requirements, chemical assays, active or major chemical constituents, clinical applications, pharmacology, contraindications, precautions, potential adverse reactions and posology of the plant.

All one has to do is to scan the QR code with his or her mobile phone and all information about the plant will be displayed.

This saves users time and money as they won’t have to spend long hours going through archives and researching on the internet to acquire the information about the plants.

The digitisation of the physic garden was commissioned on July 18, 2020 by Professor Isaac Ayensu, the Head of Department (HoD) for Herbal Medicine Department, KNUST, as part of activities to mark the 20th anniversary of the department.

Prof. Ayensu hinted that the faculty, in collaboration with the Faculty of Natural Resources, had secured a 10-acre land at Anwomaso as an extension of the garden, which would not only serve as a teaching site but also for commercial purposes.

The writer is a Teaching/Research Assistant,Department of Herbal Medicine,