Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Herb Science and Natural Products

LEVEL 03 - Years 2, 3, 4 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT Rural Sciences and Food Systems

DESCRIPTION This study-unit is composed of three parts:

Part 1 deals with the utilisation of plants in different cultures, termed as ethnobotany; the systematics of plants with ethnobotanical uses;

Part 2 deals with the phytochemistry of plants primarily metabolism in plants; primary metabolites (carbohydrate, lipids, proteins); secondary metabolites (terpenoids, flavonoids, tannins, alkaloids); pathways for metabolic production;

Part 3 deals with cultivation practices related to secondary-metabolite yielding plants, with elements of HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point Systems); use of fertilisers, pesticides, different propagation methods, soil quality and water regimen, environmental parameters, contributing towards secondary metabolite product; herbaria and botanic gardens.

Study-unit Aims

The main aim of this study-unit is to introduce the concept of the utilisation of plants other than for culinary purposes. The student will recognise the importance of several environmental and agronomic parameters on the production of compounds with medicinal and cosmetic properties in plants.

Learning Outcomes

1. Knowledge & Understanding: By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

1) define ethnobotany and discuss the methodology used in this field;
2) name and describe the main families of the Plant Kingdom in particular Asteraceae, Lamiaceae, Rosaceae, Fabacaea, Lilaceae, Cucurbitacae amongst others;
3) relate structure to function for the main families;
4) distinguish between primary and secondary metabolism in terms of role and complexity within the plant species;
5) distinguish the utilisation of plant species to humans with respect to primary and secondary metabolites;
6) compare and contrast metabolites falling under different phytochemical classes particularly terpenoids, alkaloids, flavonoids and shikimate products, tannins, proteins, organic acids, non-flavonoid polyphenolics;
7) distinguish between in vivo (cultivation) and in vitro (micropropagation) practices for typical plants;
8) demonstrate that different cultivation parameters may yield a different quality/quantity of secondary metabolites;
9) distinguish between in situ and ex situ conservation;
10) recognize the importance of herbaria.

2. Skills: By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

1) apply the principles of ethnobotany and devise a protocol for a specific useful plant;
2) identify plants, particularly those falling within the major families of the Plant Kingdom;
3) classify any given compound as a primary or secondary metabolite;
4) categorise specific compounds into phytochemical classes;
5) devise a cultivation plan for a specific plant species;
6) determine whether a plant is suitable for cultivation and/or micropropagation;
7) plan and organise a herb garden for demonstration purposes.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings

- Heinrich M. et al. Fundamentals of Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy; Churchill Livingstone, 2004. 309 p. 0-443-07132-2. (Main Library).
- William Charles Evans.. Trease and Evans’ pharmacognosy. - 14th ed. Saunders, 1996. 612 p. 0-7020-1899-6. (Main Library).
- H. Wagner and L. Horhammer. Pharmacognosy and phytochemistry. First International Congress, Munich, 1970. Springer, 1971. 3-540-05316-6. (Main Library).
- Catizzone P., et al Coltivazzione delle Piante Medicinali ed Aromatiche.

ADDITIONAL NOTES Pre-requisite Study-units: RFS1200, RFS2150, RFS2500 or equivalent study-units

Students, who are interested to take this study-unit as optional, are kindly requested to contact the Department of Rural Sciences before registering for this unit.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Fieldwork, Lectures and Practicum

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment SEM2 Yes 20%
Assignment SEM2 Yes 20%
Examination (1 Hour) SEM2 Yes 60%
Important - Due to the COVID19 Pandemic the information regarding the method of assessment indicated above may have been changed. Further details have been provided by your F/I/C/S.

LECTURER/S Everaldo Attard

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2019/0, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.