he William L. Brown Center (WLBC) is dedicated to the study of useful plants, understanding the relationships between humans, plants, and their environment, and the conservation of plant species and preservation of traditional knowledge for the benefit of future generations.

The WLBC is committed to understanding human relationships with plants and their environment. At present, programs are underway in 12 countries scattered across four continents. Ethnobotanists at the WLBC strive to preserve local knowledge about plants and plant use, even as they work with indigenous peoples to promote sustainable use of existing resources. At the same time, the WLBC is committed to respecting the intellectual property rights of the holders of traditional knowledge. This attitude informs our discovery partnerships with collaborators in pharmaceutical, agricultural, and nutrition research aimed at the development of new drugs, crops, agrochemical, or dietary supplements. Finally, the medicinal plant programs at the WLBC work to develop methods to ensure that botanical ingredients of dietary supplements are correctly identified and characterized to promote high-quality products.

New and Noteworthy

STUDYING WILDFLOWERS IN YUNNAN, CHINA, A BIODIVERSITY HOT-SPOT

Robbie Hart, a WLBC Research Specialist currently based in Yunnan, China, is tracking climate change through the study of flowering plants in the Shangri-la Mountains. He has spent the last few years collecting data on flowering times and locations in the alpine zone in southwestern China and Tibet, an area of especially high plant diversity. He will compare these data with archival plant records gathered more than 100 years ago to see whether there have been any significant changes over time. One of Robbie’s recent trips was described recently in a Washington post article. To find out more, go here.

ETHNOBOTANISTS FROM AROUND THE WORLD GATHER AT THE MISSOURI BOTANICAL GARDEN, ISSUE CALL FOR ACTION

Representatives from the WLBC, MBG, The New York Botanical Garden, Royal Botanic Garden Kew (UK), Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden (China), Hanoi University of Pharmacy (Viet Nam), The Northern Territory Herbarium (Australia), The Botanical Garden at the University of Mexico, The Botanic Garden, Geneva (Switzerland), the Foundation for Revitalization of Local Health Traditions (India), and Shah Abdul Latif University (Pakistan) met in St. Louis to discuss specific targets of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation pertaining to useful plants and the biocultural knowledge associated with them. Before the close of the meeting, the participants drafted A Global Program on Conservation of Useful Plants and Traditional Knowledge. The text of the statement can be found here.

The Global Program is also available in French, Spanish, Italian, and Sindhi.

RESEARCHERS FROM THE WILLIAM L. BROWN CENTER DISOVER HIGH LEVELS OF OMEGA FATTY ACIDS IN Plukenetia huayllabambana

Researchers at the Missouri Botanical Garden’s William L. Brown Center have discovered extraordinarily high levels of omega fatty acids in a species which they encountered in Northern Peru. Omega fatty acids are essential for human health and must be obtained through food sources. Omega-3 fatty acids are also widely used in cosmetics.

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WLBC BOOK, MEDICINAL PLANTS AND THE LEGACY OF RICHARD E. SCHULTES, RECEIVES THE 2013 JAMES A. DUKE AWARD

The American Botanical Council's James A. Duke Excellence in Botanical Literature Award was created in 2006 in honor of noted economic botanist and author, James A. Duke, PhD. It is given annually to books that provide a significant contribution to literature in the fields of botany, taxonomy, ethnobotany, phytomedicine, or other disciplines related to the vast field of medicinal plants. This year's winner in the reference and technical book category is Medicinal Plants and the Legacy of Richard E. Schultes, edited by Bruce Ponman and Rainer Bussmann.

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The illustration is from the 1586 edition of
The Gardener's Labyrinth by Thomas Hill.

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