Joseph Banks learnt what? … from a herbalist.

Joseph Banks learnt what? … from a herbalist.

Herbal Medicine is often portrayed as some alternative health modality now outdated by the wonderful advance of technological medicine.

Every now and again however you see a glimpse of its true impact on the world.

Herbal medicines True impact on the world

Reading a book on plant explorers (The Plant Hunters – Musgrave & Gardner) the chapter on Sir Joseph Banks talks of how he came to be so fascinated by the plant world.

Walking back one summer evening after swimming in the Thames River.

He was suddenly transfixed by…

The beauty and plant variety of a wild hedgerow in the evening light.

Captivated by what he saw and wanting to learn more about these plants.

He asked the local women who gathered herbs for the pharmacy trade to teach him all they knew.

They did. Unfortunately, their names have not been recorded.

He learnt from the local herb gatherers

From this start his thirst to know more about plants was kindled.

He moved next to studying botany at Oxford (Importing specific tutors for himself and classmates)

It was the fashion of the times for young rich men to take a grand tour of Italy.

Banks went beyond that… saying ’Every block head does that. My grand tour shall be one around the globe.’

My grand tour shall be one around the globe.

Inside two years of that statement Banks sails with Lieutenant Cook (having paid a staggering 10,000 pounds for passage of himself & assistants).

 The rest they say is history.  Whilst not seeking to be herbalist Josephs Banks passion for the plant world was started by herb gathers near the Thames in England.

Some of his achievements

  • The creation of Kew gardens into a research orientated Botanic Garden from a Royal pleasure grounds.
  • The introduction of over 7,000 species introduced into cultivation.
  • Collected 350 species of plant from Australia on the Endeavour voyage.

All this and more came from that summers evening and talking to the local herbwomen.

I would have been so easy for him to be a rich playboy instead he connected with plants and the Rest is history…

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