Illustrated U.S. Map From 1932 Shows the Medicinal Plants Native to Each State

Medicinal Plant Map of the United States

Renowned for the rarity of its cartographic treasures, the David Rumsey Map Collection is a one-of-a-kind organization. Over half of its 150,000 historic documents—including one of the world's largest maps—has been digitized, allowing the public to explore the charted world like like never before. One recent addition to this virtual library is the Medicinal Plant Map of the United States, a vintage guide to each state's pharmaceutical flora.

Designed by the National Wholesale Druggists’ Association in 1932, this unique map visually presents the varieties of medicinal plants native to the United States. Each plant is represented by a botanical illustration and accompanied by information about the drug it helps produce, giving viewers a quick yet comprehensive glimpse into modern medicine's history.

In addition to acting as a handy guide to the nation's herbs, the Medicinal Plant Map was also created in order to emphasize the expertise of pharmacists. In the 1930s, more and more companies were turning to over-the-counter pharmaceuticals compounded in labs. Pharmacists—who, by trade, were skilled in drug-making—felt increasingly threatened by these synthetic medications, prompting them to produce this poster and explain the “intense scientific study, expert knowledge, extreme care and accuracy [that is] applied by the pharmacist to medicinal plants and drugs.”

While their plan was not successful, this map immortalizes their efforts and offers us a glimpse into the pharmaceutical industry's humble roots.

You can explore and download the map on the David Rumsey Map Collection's website.

The Medicinal Plant Map of the United States visually presents and describes the medicinal plants that are native to each state. The illustrated piece is part of the David Rumsey Map Collection.

Medicinal Plant Map of the United States

Medicinal Plant Map of the United States Medicinal Plants

Medicinal Plant Map of the United States Medicinal Plants

Medicinal Plant Map of the United States Medicinal Plants

David Rumsey Map Collection: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
h/t: [Open Culture]

All images via David Rumsey Map Collection.

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Kelly Richman-Abdou

Kelly Richman-Abdou is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met. An art historian living in Paris, Kelly was born and raised in San Francisco and holds a BA in Art History from the University of San Francisco and an MA in Art and Museum Studies from Georgetown University. When she’s not writing, you can find Kelly wandering around Paris, whether she’s leading a tour (as a guide, she has been interviewed by BBC World News America and France 24) or simply taking a stroll with her husband and two tiny daughters.
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