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Does plant-based medicine still have a role to play in 21st century healthcare?

James Wong

James Wong

Press release issued: 22 April 2013

James Wong, who fronted the award-winning BBC Two series Grow Your Own Drugs, will discuss the potential value of traditional medical practices in the age of nanotechnology and stem cell research at a talk organised by the University of Bristol’s Botanic Garden and Cleeve Nursery on Thursday 25 April.

James Wong, who fronted the award-winning BBC Two series Grow Your Own Drugs, is a best-selling author and co-designed his fifth RHS flower show garden at the 2011 Chelsea Flower Show for which he received a gold medal, will give the 2013 Annals of Botany Lecture.

James is an ethnobotanist with interests in traditional medical systems, underutilised crops species and wild plant conservation.  His work has taken him to Ecuador, Southern Chile and Indonesia.  In 2009 he joined the BBC One Countryfile team and he has also participated in BBC Four’s Fossil Detectives.

James Wong, who is passionate to introduce people to the world of useful plants, said: “There is a tendency to think that the use of plants for medical purposes is something from history, making for an interesting anecdote rather than cutting edge science. The reality could not be further from the truth.

“The world’s largest and most lucrative pharmaceutical market is the United States, where 70 per cent of new medicinal drugs have been developed from natural sources.”

Does plant-based medicine still have a role to play in 21st century healthcare organised by the Botanic Garden will take place on Thursday 25 April 2013 at 7.30 pm in the University of Bristol’s School of Chemistry, Lecture Theatre 1, Cantock’s Close, Bristol BS8 1TS.

Admission is £8.50 for non-members, £6 to Friends of the Garden and Cleeve Nursery members (on production of membership card), University students, free.  Tickets, available from the University’s online shop, include wine, soft drinks, snacks and there will be the opportunity to meet James after the lecture.

Further information is available from the Botanic Garden, tel 0117 331 4906 or email


Further information

About the Annals of Botany Lecture

Annals of Botany is an international plant science journal that publishes novel and substantial research papers in all areas of plant science, along with reviews and shorter Botanical Briefings about topical issues. It is one of the oldest international journals of botanical science and is hosting the 2013 Annals of Botany Lecture in association with the University of Bristol Botanic Garden and Cleeve Nursery.

Previous speakers include: Professor Mark Chase, Head of the Jodrell Laboratory, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew who spoke in 2008 on ‘plant classification past and present’; Roy Lancaster OBE who talked in 2009 on about his travels in China, titled ‘Travels of a Plantsman’; Simon Pugh-Jones, MBE, Director of the Writhlington School Orchid Projector spoke on the development of the orchid project and its new overseas projects in 2010. Professor Stephen Blackmore, Regius Keeper of the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, gave the fourth prestigious Annals of Botany lecture in 2011 on the work that RBGE is doing in China, through the Jade Dragon Field Station near Lijiang.

About the Botanic Garden

April and May. Open Monday to Friday and Sunday from 10 am to 4.30pm.

June, July, August and September. Open Monday to Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 4.30 pm.

Admission is £3.50 adults; free to University staff and retired staff, Friends of the Botanic Garden, students and children under 16. The garden also offers private day, evening and weekend guided tours for groups and gardening or any other leisure clubs. Please contact the garden for further information. There is a charge for the guide.

Directions to The Holmes

From the city centre go to the top of Whiteladies Road, at the junction and traffic lights go straight ahead across Durdham Down towards Stoke Bishop. At the traffic lights go straight ahead and take the first turning on the right into Stoke Park Road, The Holmes is 150 m on the right.

Members of the public wishing to support the work of the Botanic Garden should join the Friends of the Garden. For more information go to or write to Susan Redfern, The Membership Secretary, 24 Dublin Crescent, Henleaze, Bristol BS9 4NA.

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