College of Agriculture & Natural Resources


Winter 2017 Study in Peru

Amazon rainforest

Medicinal Plants of the Amazon

PLSC489X (3 Credits)

Contact: Andrea Ottesen


Medicinal Plants of the Amazon uses one of the most biologically diverse regions on the planet as a classroom setting to expose students to the incredible biodiversity of the flora of primary and secondary tropical rainforest. Students will learn about local medicinal plants and local Peruvian uses of plant properties to treat a wide range of ailments. Local healers will demonstrate preparation and use of specific plants. Toxic components of tropical plants will be examined and drugs that have been derived from rainforest biochemistry will be discussed. Sustainability issues will be introduced and examined from pharmaceutical, "food pharmacy" and global health perspectives.

The group will land in Iquitos, Peru; considered the Peruvian gateway to the Amazon. We will spend up to two nights in Iquitos before heading up the Amazon River to the Napo River to the first of four forest campsites that we will visit throughout the trip.

Polylepis tree


Highlights include:

  • Visit to a local village on the Amazon river
  • Night boat rides up the Amazon
  • Visit to nature preserve to see rescued Anacondas, monkeys and tucans
  • Guest lectures - local shaman and naturalists

Students will stay in modest guesthouses in Iquitos. Time on the river will be spent in open frame wood cabins with beds covered with mosquito netting.

Program Director: Dr. Ottesen has a long history in horticulture and plant sciences. She began interning at the U.S. National Arboretum 20 years ago and has worked in plant related/natural science education positions ever since including Amazon Center for Environmental Education and Research. She worked with Dr. Jim Duke studying medicinal plants of the Amazon for 15 years and is an author on several of his Latin American and South American medicinal plant books. As an Adjunct professor in the Department of Plant Sciences and Landscape Architecture, she has taught the Medicinal Plants of the Peruvain Amazon and Andes class (in different formulations) for three years.

For course, itinerary or in-country information, please contact the Program Director. For more information or to apply please visit



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