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Herbal Microscopy Book Receives American Botanical Council's James A. Duke Book Award
Date:2/28/2012

art of microscopy, and (2) a botanical microscopy atlas, which comprises roughly three-quarters of the book. The atlas contains more than 135 detailed descriptions of the histology (cell structure) of some of the most commonly used medicinal plants in North America and around the world.(1)

"In developing the AHP monographs, we realized that botanical microscopy was the primary form of crude plant part identification used for [more than] 100 years," said Upton (email communication, February 14, 2012). "This gave us the idea that it would be good to have a textbook, as some of the plants sold in the marketplace today as dietary supplements and teas had never been microscopically analyzed or recorded."

In his preface to the book, Upton describes the unique importance of microscopy to pharmacognosy (the study of medicines of natural origin) and its status as a "dying art" in North America and Europe.(1) "Our work in developing microscopic characterizations for AHP monographs as a fundamental identity test has underscored for us the value and importance of microscopy as a quality assessment tool," he said. "[W]e embarked upon this project as our way of helping to preserve and reenergize this scientific discipline."

While previous microscopy texts presented limited tools for plant identification—often relying on single, unconfirmed botanical specimens with pictures of only the powdered substance—AHP's text contains meticulously authenticated samples with full-color images of plant parts and powders as well as intricate line drawings. Upton said he hopes the textbook will help readers "recognize the utility of microscopy as a low cost, low environmental impact, and effective quality assessment tool for both identification of plants [and] species and for the detection of impurities [e.g., adulterants]."

The late Professor Norman R. Farnsworth, Ph.D., in his foreword to the book, praised Upton's work, which was 10 years
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SOURCE American Botanical Council
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