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ABC Presents James A. Duke Botanical Literature Award in Reference and Consumer Book Categories

AUSTIN, Texas (March 15, 2017) — The American Botanical Council (ABC) has chosen two books to receive its 2017 ABC James A. Duke Excellence in Botanical Literature Awards. The first, Chinese Medicinal Plants, Herbal Drugs and Substitutes: An Identification Guide, is the recipient of the Duke Award in the reference/technical category, and the second, Joseph Banks’ Florilegium: Botanical Treasures from Cook’s First Voyage, was chosen for the consumer/popular category. This is the third time that ABC has awarded the Duke Award in both categories in the same year, and the first year that the award has been given to a text on Chinese medicinal herbs. 

ABC gives the Duke Award annually to books that contribute significantly to the medicinal plant-related literature, and the fields of botany, taxonomy, ethnobotany, pharmacognosy, phytomedicine, and other related disciplines.

The Duke Award was created in 2006 to honor economic botanist and author James A. Duke, PhD, who died on December 10, 2017. Duke’s prestigious career achievements in economic botany and ethnobotany include decades of work at the United States Department of Agriculture and the authorship of more than 30 reference and consumer books. Among his many other activities and positions, he was also a co-founding member of ABC’s Board of Trustees. 

Chinese Medicinal Plants, Herbal Drugs and Substitutes was written by Christine Leon, PhD, and Lin Yu-Lin as the culmination of a 19-year collaboration between the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in England, and the Institute of Medicinal Plant Development (IMPLAD) at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College in Beijing, China. The Kew-IMPLAD collaboration included 44 field expeditions into 15 geographical regions in China, in which 4,500 reference specimens were collected and cross-referenced with herbarium vouchers.

Gina Fullerlove, head of publishing at Kew, thanked ABC for its recognition and acknowledgement. “This was a challenging and hugely collaborative project for Kew as its publisher,” she said. “Our specialist expertise in developing and designing highly illustrated reference works, our understanding of content and how it is used, along with experienced botanical editorial skills, were deployed throughout the project. The Kew Publishing team worked with the authors at all stages to develop a reference work that we hope will be accessible and of value to the plant science and phytomedicine communities it aims to serve.”

In order to help prevent accidental or intentional adulteration, this text provides an accurate and authoritative resource for the purpose of herb industry quality control. The text contains more than 3,000 full-color, annotated images of medicinal plants in situ and of specific plant parts used in traditional formulas, labeled with both Chinese Pinyin names and current scientific names.

Co-author Leon commented: “Accurate species identification of Chinese plants used in traditional medicines and other natural products is vital if they are to be safe and fit-for-purpose. Our joint Kew-IMPLAD field expeditions across China these last 20 years provide the backdrop to our morphological identification guide, which aims to provide the tools for resolving, at least in part, some of this challenging issue. Aware of ABC’s excellence in herbal quality-assurance initiatives, it is a huge honor and privilege, therefore, for my co-author Lin Yu-Lin and me to accept the ABC James A. Duke Excellence in Botanical Literature Award for 2017.”

In the consumer/popular category, Joseph Banks’ Florilegium was written by Mel Gooding; David Mabberley, PhD; and Joe Studholme. The 320-page book highlights 147 full-page, color botanical prints that resulted from the work of the English botanist and naturalist Joseph Banks and the skilled team he oversaw on Captain James Cook’s famous South Pacific voyage on the HMS Endeavour from 1768 to 1771. After the voyage, Banks had 743 copper-plate engravings made from the artwork of the Scottish artist Sydney Parkinson, who was part of Banks’ team on the expedition. The engravings, known collectively as Banks’ Florilegium, were printed and published in color for the first time between 1980 and 1990, with a limited number of complete sets being produced. The selection included in the book comes from those prints, making them available to the general public for the first time in one volume. 

Studholme, who helped oversee the printing process, expressed his pleasure at seeing Banks’ work recognized. “We feel greatly honored that Joseph Banks’ Florilegium has received the James A. Duke Excellence in Botanical Literature Award,” he said. “Ever since we first embarked on the Florilegium project in 1980, it was always my ambition to publish a well-illustrated accompanying book so that more people would learn about the extraordinary achievements of Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander on the Endeavour voyage and the wonderful skills of their draughtsman, Sydney Parkinson.”

Phillip Watson, commissioning editor of Thames and Hudson, the publisher of the book, also commented: “It’s fitting that Joseph Banks’s work should be recognized now, 250 years after he set sail with Captain Cook, gathering plant specimens, [some of which] were then still unknown to science. Joseph Banks’ Florilegium includes some of the most precise and exquisite examples of botanical illustration ever made. They continue to demonstrate the power of the relationship between art and botanical science. It’s an honor for Thames & Hudson to publish these exceptional prints for the first time in book form.”

Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director of ABC, said: “As a science-based research and education organization, ABC is committed to recognizing excellent publications in the various fields related to herb and medicinal plant sciences. These two landmark volumes of this past year are particularly poignant, since 2017 is the year that Jim Duke died. We at ABC are certain that Jim would have heartily agreed with our selection of these two uniquely significant contributions to the world’s botanical literature.”

Past Duke Award recipients include: Handbook of Essential Oils: Science, Technology, and Applications, 2nd edition (2016); Clinical Aromatherapy, 3rd edition (2015); Ancient Pathways, Ancestral Knowledge (2014); Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy, 2nd edition (2013); Medicinal Plants and the Legacy of Richard E. Schultes (2012; reference/technical category) and Smoke Signals (2012; consumer/popular category); the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia’s Botanical Pharmacognosy (2011; reference/technical category) and Healing Spices (2011; consumer/popular category); Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health (2010); An Oak Spring Herbaria (2009); and Mabberley's Plant-Book, 3rd edition (2008). 

The ABC James A. Duke Award was presented at the annual ABC Botanical Celebration and Awards Ceremony on March 8, 2018, in Anaheim, California. The event for ABC Sponsor Members occurred during the Natural Products Expo West and Engredea trade shows and conferences.