Station: [10] Herbarium and Drug Collection

If you’re thinking of drug abuse and narcotics; you’re on the wrong track! In pharmacy, the word “drugs” refers to dried plants and parts of plants and also to animals and parts of animals. The English word “drug” derives from the Anglo-French word “drogge”, which has the same meaning, and it may in turn derive from Middle Low German "droge", meaning dry. Drugs in this sense include peppermint, camomile and valerian as well as opium. These days, drugs of animal origin have hardly any medical significance, except possibly in homeopathy and Chinese medicine.

That's why our drug collection is entirely legal. 

Even during the twentieth century, native medicinal plants were collected, dried and processed on site. Pharmacists had to be familiar with each drug’s active ingredients. They had to be able to distinguish the dried plant parts...

... leaves, flowers, bark, stems, roots, fruit, herbs...

... both individually and in a tisane blend of five or ten different substances. Any mix-up might have had serious consequences. So it was very helpful to have a collection of drug samples. If you look in the showcase, you can see two collections with labelled samples – one from the beginning, the other from the end of the 20th century. 

Did you press flowers when you were a child? That’s what it’s like to create a herbarium, which is a collection of dried and pressed plants mounted on paper. The pages also include information about the plant and where it was found. A herbarium helps pharmacists to compare plants, and creating one used to be an important part of their training. 

Our museum’s holdings include herbaria from across three centuries, comprising more than 5,000 specimens in all. But since the books are very delicate, we unfortunately can’t allow visitors to leaf through them. 

Your next stop is in the materials store, which is the room next to the dispensary on the right.

All depictions: © Trüpschuch