Mystery Plant in the Apothecaries’ Garden

Photo taken at Chelsea Physic Garden 23/5/2017
by Chris Derrett

What is the link between this plant and an essay publishes 200 years ago by a surgeon apothecary in  East London?

The answer will appear here in the middle of June.

Posted in medical history, pharmaceutical history, Quiz.


  1. I think that the East London apothecary is James Parkinson who wrote ‘An essay on the shaking palsy’ in 1817. Not sure what the plant is but wonder if it might be basil.

  2. Answer to Mystery Plant

    In 1817 James Parkinson a surgeon apothecary from Shoreditch published ‘An Essay on the Shaking Palsy’ .
    Charcot later suggested the name Parkinson’s Disease.

    The plant is the broad bean (Vicia faba)
    In 1913 Guggenheim identified an antiparkinsonian agent (levadopa) in seedlings , pods and beans.

    Chris Derrett

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