Drug and Poisonous Plants
These images depict gardens, plants, and research activities conducted by the Drug and Poisonous Plant Investigations division of the Bureau of Plant Industry, and the division’s successor agencies. The collection spans the years 1902 to 1943.
One of the division’s goals was to promote the commercial production of medicinal plants in the United States so the country could rely less on imported materials. Scientists cultivated belladonna, digitalis, stramonium, hyoscyamus, aconite, arnica, licorice, and opium poppy, among other plants. The division established small field plots in various U.S. geographic areas to study the influence of climate and latitude on plant growth and on the production of the plants’ active substances. Researchers also investigated the properties and geographic distribution of toxic plants.