Garden of medicinal plants

The Royal College of Physicians' garden contains over 1,100 plants, all with links to medicine. The myriad stories they tell come from diverse cultures, different countries and from every age in recorded history.

The garden has been beautifully designed and is a wonderfully calm space in the centre of London. The real joy of the garden is in its unique and bespoke collections of plants that offer living examples of the history of medicine from the era of the pyramids of Egypt to today’s life-saving prescription drugs.

[The plants] offer an illuminating window into the history, beliefs and culture of medicine through the ages.

There are also plants whose names commemorate physicians such as Rudbeck, Dahl, Fuchs, Kniphof and Zinn and a descendant of the tree under which Hippocrates taught medical students 2,400 years ago. Many of the plants have no current medical use but they offer an illuminating window into the history, beliefs and culture of medicine through the ages.

Available to buy from the RCP shop, A garden of medicinal plants describes 50 plants from the medicinal garden that are sources of ancient and modern medicines.

Garden tours

Tours by the garden fellows are held on the first Wednesday of each month at 2pm from March to October. Please call +44 (0)20 3075 1200 to book.

Group tours can also be arranged Monday–Friday by sending an email with details of the group, along with the preferred date and time, to garden@rcplondon.ac.uk with the subject ‘Garden tour’. Tours are usually 11am–12.30pm (tea/coffee/biscuits at 10.30am) and 2–3.30pm (tea/coffee/biscuits at 3.30pm) but other times can be arranged.

Garden lectures

  • Monday 10 June, 2–5pm: Pharmacopoeias since Galen – Their evolution into the College’s pharmacopoeia of 1618; Colonial medicinal plants and pharmacopoeias of the British empire 1837-1932; Botanical origins of pharmaceutical medicine.
  • Monday 15 July, 2–5pm: Box, beer and barley, archaeobotanical evidence from Roman Britain; Medicinal aspects of tea, coffee and chocolate.
  • Monday 9 September, 2–5pm: The Little Garden and the Great Herbal – Medicinal plants in the medieval garden; Plant poisons for arrows and harpoons.

For more details email garden@rcplondon.ac.uk with the subject ‘Garden lectures’.

Visiting

Garden location, accessibility and journey planning information (including transport accessibility) is available on our visiting page.

If you would rather discuss visiting arrangements with staff at the RCP please contact us via email at reception@rcplondon.ac.uk, or by telephone on +44 (0)20 3075 1200 or +44 (0)20 3075 1363.