Medicinal Plant Databases: Prioritizing Conservation and Interdisciplinarity
Accessing information about medicinal plants is now easier than ever with the internet. Such information is digitally accessible in a plethora of formats, such as web-based herbal programs and courses, popular and academic articles, pharmacological studies and reviews, regulatory websites, uploaded books and field guides, and significantly, databases. Since the onset of the internet, people have been developing web-based medicinal plant databases to facilitate the transmission of knowledge to researchers and public audiences alike. While the primary functions of such databases can range, from verifying the most up-to-date accepted scientific name of plant species, to listing their current conservation status, their role as centralized information repositories for research and dissemination is similar.
In this workshop, Christiaan will speak about medicinal plants in the context of biodiversity informatics, namely, database creation and utility. He will briefly introduce the role and utility of databases in research on medicinal plants, and will make a case for prioritizing interdisciplinarity and a conservation focus in medicinal plant databases. Lastly, Christiaan will present the design of a database project he is currently working on at the Rosado lab in the University of British Columbia. The project is a nation-wide database for traditional Chinese medicinal plants in Canadian botanical gardens, and is intended to be a web-based collaborative platform for interdisciplinary research on medicinal plants, prioritizing their conservation status and cultivation possibilities.