Project ESR8: History of medicinal plant use in Europe: A phylogenetic and organoleptic approach

PhD Fellow: Peter Staub

Supervision: Dr. Marco Leonti and Prof. Micaela Morelli

Host Institution: University of Cagliari

Co-supervisors: Dr. Julie Hawkins, School of Biological Sciences, University of Reading; Dr. Laura Casu University of Cagliari.

This project will combine the results of molecular systematics with the uses described in the classical herbal texts together with the corresponding organoleptic properties in a statistical analysis in order to detect subliminal and hidden concepts and principals of European Materia Medica.

About the project

Why do people use the plants they use? What can we learn from historical herbal texts? What concepts
shaped European medicinal plant use over time?

During my PhD I wish to explore the diversity of historically used medicinal plants with a focus on
their organoleptic features (i.e. taste and smell), therapeutic uses and botanical relationship. Thereby I
aim to identify unknown patterns or hidden concepts in European materia medica and shed light on the
processes that influence the development of botanical pharmacopoeias. Potentially interesting
medicinal plants will be examined pharmacologically and phytochemically

Duration: 3 years – start March 1st 2014.