Medicinal plant lecture: When Britain ruled the waves

18 July 2016
Royal College of Physicians, 11 St Andrews Place, Regents Park, London, NW1 4LE

Past event

Medicinal plant lecture: When Britain ruled the waves

Botany and imperialism by Professor Michael Black, emeritus professor of plant physiology, King’s College, London

Aphrodisiac plants by Professor Peter Houghton, emeritus professor of pharmacognosy, King's College, London.

13.30 Registration

14.00 Botany and Imperialism
Professor Michael Black

The acquisition of plants and their products has been associated with imperial activities at least from Roman times through to the heyday of the British Empire. The search for spices was the early driver for the explorations of the European powers, Portugal, Spain, The Netherlands, France and Britain, in the 16th and 17th centuries, which continued in the establishment of colonies up to the 18th and 19th centuries. The exploitation of native plants was a major feature of these adventures.

In this respect, Britain was especially active, with the encouragement and participation of botanists at The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and its outstations in the colonies. In the 19th century in particular, Kew botany and the Empire grew stronger together.

15.00 Tea and garden tour of relevant plants: the garden fellows

16.00 Aphrodisiac plants
Professor Peter Houghton

In most cultures there are plant species, and products obtained from them, which have a reputation for increasing sexual desire and/or perfomance. Although the reputation of some species cannot be explained scientifically by such dubious ideas as the Doctrine of Signatures, there is increasing evidence from scientific observations supporting the traditional use of the other plants.

Examples of both categories will be given and discussed, with information about the methods used for testing for relevant effects and the chemical basis for any activity.

17.00 Refreshments