Joseph Banks and the Continuing Influence of European Colonisation on Australian Herbal Practice.
Practitioners of Western herbal medicine in Australia rely on plant species which are almost exclusively alien or exotic. The materia medica requirements for courses approved by the National Herbalists Association of Australia (Hammer 2009) (i.e. the individual medicinal plants herbalists study during their training) reveal very few plants which are native or indigenous to Australia. While the herbs studied are not exclusively of European origin and include many from North America, India and China, plants native and indigenous to Australia are conspicuous by their absence. This is despite the efforts of a small number of enthusiastic proponents (Cowper 1990) for native and indigenous medicinal plants to be incorporated into herbalists’ materia medica. In this article I trace the introduction into Australia of medicinal plants native to Europe and I discuss the role of Sir Joseph Banks in this process. While there is some documentation of early exploration into the medicinal uses of local plants, I suggest that there is little evidence of a systematic transfer of knowledge between European settlers and Indigenous Australians. As a result practitioners of Western herbal medicine in Australia rarely employ native or indigenous Australian plants in their clinical practice, although some wildcrafting of European medicinal ‘weeds’ does occur.