National plant collections vital to medical research, insists leading charity

Conservation charity Plant Heritage is plugging the importance of its nationwide National Collection Scheme after recent research revealed another example of how vital plants are to medical research.

The recent research by the NHS showed naturally occurring galanthine in certain snowdrop species can help people with Alzheimer’s disease.

The compound was found to slow the progression of the disease.

Galanthine is found in a couple of species of snowdrop, Galanthus caucasicus and Galanthus voronowii, and Plant Heritage has both housed within its National Collection Scheme.

"The scheme, which has over 630 national collections throughout the UK is vital not just for the survival of British gardens but also for the future of medical research," said the charity’s chief executive Genevieve Melbourne Webb.

"Scientists are still discovering the unique medical and chemical properties of certain plants. Many more may have healing properties which have yet to be revealed, which makes it even more important to preserve these precious natural resources.

"The work of collection holders is vital in maintaining the wealth of knowledge and genetic continuity of many plants, which without their work would be lost forever."


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