Spend Saturday learning about medicinal plants at the Chelsea Physic Garden. Tucked away beside the Thames, Chelsea Physic Garden is the oldest botanic garden in London and houses around 5,000 different medicinal, herbal, edible, and useful plants.
When the Garden was first established by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries in 1673, its role was to provide a place where they could grow all of the plants which young apothecaries could learn to identify key medicinal plants. This area is an area where apothecaries would have grown medicinal plants in the 17th and 18th centuries. We of course no longer train apothecaries at the Garden, but we are still visited by medical students wishing to learn about the history of plant-based medicine.
The plants are displayed here in a series of themed rooms –
World Medicine Collection
Beds dedicated to medicine throughout every region of the world, some of the plants traditionally used by healers, shamans, witch doctors and herbalists over the last 5,000 years.
Displays some of the plants first listed by the first-century Greek pharmacologist, physician and botanist Dioscorides (c.40-c.90AD) in his book of medicinal plants.
Early pharmacies were known as officinas and this bed displays the type of plants that would have been sold.
Traditional Medicine of the British Isles
A range of plants grown by the Apothecaries in the Garden between the 17th and 19th centuries are grown here.
Plants form the basis of around a quarter of all modern western medicines. Here each bed represents a different medicinal discipline, including Oncology and Dermatology. There are around 60 plants, all of which are vital to modern medicine.
Displays numerous herbal remedies. Herbal remedies prepared directly from plants are relied on by over 80% of the world’s population despite having little scientific evidence.
Tours run each day from the statue covering the history of the garden and information about some of the medicinal plants.