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Garden History

Public interest in identifying poisonous plants rose sharply in the mid-19th century as farmers and ranchers moved west, where their livestock grazed on many unfamiliar plants, some of which were poisonous. In response, the newly formed U.S. Department of Agriculture was assigned responsibility for addressing this economically significant problem by identifying potentially poisonous forage. Walter Conrad Muenscher, a professor of botany at Cornell from 1916-1954, saw the need to develop a course that would offer this new information to Cornell veterinary students. During the 1930s, Muenscher developed this garden as a teaching collection for his students.