UM faculty and students complete first book on campus plants

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A team led by Zhao Jing, an associate professor in the State Key Laboratory of Quality Research in Chinese Medicine (SKL-QRCM) at the University of Macau (UM), has completed The Flora of the University of Macau (The Flora). It is the first book that systematically introduces the plants on the UM campus in the form of illustrations and text, and contains information about many medicinal plants with Lingnan characteristics. The fruit of three years of hard work, it is both a valuable reference book for plant researchers and a fun read for the lay person.

In the foreword to The Flora, UM Rector Yonghua Song said, ‘The university’s aim is to “nurture people through the environment” by creating a comfortable, energy-efficient, and green campus. Thanks to the hard work of our gardeners, the campus is now a place of learning and relaxation for our colleagues, students, and Macao residents, with its beautiful birdsong, quiet environment, and fresh air. Some faculty members and students in the SKL-QRCM have compiled this book to support the university’s effort to create an environment conducive to education and to enable teachers, students, and visitors to gain a deeper understanding of campus plants.

Prof Zhao is grateful to Prof Wang Yitao, director of the laboratory, for his guidance. She says that the book not only includes information about the flowers and trees on campus; it also contains information about many medicinal plants with Lingnan characteristics, which are among the lab’s key research areas in recent years.

In their preparation for this book, Prof Zhao Jing, along with faculty and students in the SKL-QRCM, collected 258 kinds of plant materials. Because of environmental changes, typhoons, and other factors, the final draft of The Flora includes 126 plant species belonging to 59 families and 117 genera. The content includes the Chinese names, aliases, Latin names, identification information, herbal descriptions, growing environments, medicinal value and uses, and locations on campus. Some entries are even accompanied by poems, to make the content informative, fun, and practical at the same time. To make the book more interesting, two games were designed, namely the treasure map game and the Monopoly game. The former divides the campus into six zones, each with a type of guardian plant for visitors to find; the latter is a fun game where participants can follow the map on a campus plant tour.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the university and the tenth anniversary of the SKL-QRCM. Over the past decade, the laboratory has achieved many successes and breakthroughs in different areas of Chinese medicine quality research. The book is also the result of both scientific research and science popularisation. Xiao Peigen, a pioneer in the study of medicinal plants in China, honorary director of the Institute of Medicinal Plants under the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences Beijing Union Medical College, and a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, sent his congratulations on the 40th anniversary of the university, saying that The Flora has laid a solid foundation for the popularisation and development of Chinese herbal medicine.