Healing Plants Around the World

Featuring the
Italian Renaissance Garden

Discover how cultures around the world rely on plants for everything from medicine to cosmetics. Embark on a journey of the senses through a stunning re-creation of an Italian Renaissance garden and interactive stations highlighting the rejuvenating and healing powers of tea, cacao, and tropical juices. Explore a fascinating presentation of rare books and manuscripts known as herbals and enjoy a poetry walk, weekend Renaissance music & dance performances, hands-on science adventures for kids, and more!

See the programs In the news

Wild Medicine In The News

Daily News

Describes medicinal properties of several featured plants


Story by Dr. Sapna Parikh, health news reporter for New York's ABC affiliate


Explores the historic and modern links between medicine and botany

AAAS MemberCentral

This is a description


Dr. Michael Balick comments on 12 exotic healing plants

Everett Potter's Travel Report

Review by a leading travel blog


Public programming during Wild Medicine is made possible with support from the Leon Lowenstein Foundation, Inc., and the New York Council for the Humanities.

Healing Plants

Around The World

Healing Plants Around the World features the research of some of the Garden's leading experts in science, medicine, and ethnobotany.

Explore plants such as the cinchona tree, the source of quinine, which treats malaria, and white willow, whose bark leads to the production of aspirin. More than 500 species or cultivars of medicinal plants are showcased, most of them grown in the Garden's glasshouses, making this one of the largest exhibitions of medicinal plants ever mounted.

See The Plants View Slideshow

The Italian

Renaissance Garden

The Italian Renaissance Garden is inspired by Europe's first botanical garden, created in 1545 at the University of Padua, in the Venetian Republic.

A lush landscape of Mediterranean flowers, including exotic varieties, endangered species, and medicinal plants, are classically composed to evoke the original design that remains at Padua to this day.

View Slideshow

The Renaissance


This compelling exhibition, in the LuEsther T. Mertz Library's Rondina and LoFaro Gallery, showcasing rare manuscripts and beautifully illustrated books produced in the medieval and Renaissance eras, demonstrates the evolving role plants have played in medicine and history since antiquity. These beautiful herbals have been selected from the incomparable collections of the Mertz Library, the largest botanical and horticultural library in the world. Purchase the beautiful exhibition catalog here or during your visit at Shop in the Garden.

View Slideshow
Leadership support provided by the LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust

Additional support provided by The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation,
Pine Tree Foundation of New York, and Save Venice Inc.

Four Seasons

On display from May 18 through October 27, Four Seasons is an installation of four sculptures—each standing more than 15 feet high—by contemporary American artist Philip Haas. Encompassing Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter, the works are inspired by the 16th-century creations of Italian Renaissance painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo. Read more.

View Slideshow
Four Seasons is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
Additional support provided by the Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation and the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation


Wild Medicine Encounters: Tea, Chocolate, and Tropical Juices

In the Haupt Conservatory daily

See, smell, and taste the rejuvenating and healing powers of tea, cacao, and tropical juices through interactive demonstrations and samplings. These showcases will provide insights to the historical and cultural importance of these plants throughout the world.

Closing Weekend Lecture with Curator Dr. Michael Balick:
Ancient Wisdom and Modern Medicine: Rainforest Remedies

Saturday, September 7 at 1 p.m.
In the Ross Hall

Seating is limited; reserve your tickets in advance to guarantee seating.

Get your tickets here and Select the special All-Garden Pass with the same title as the lecture above.

Curator Dr. Michael J. Balick concludes the run of the Wild Medicine exhibition with a lecture discussing his ethnobotanical fieldwork on islands of the Pacific and elsewhere around the world. In seeking to show the potential of traditional knowledge and practices in the modern world, as well as preserve the biodiversity upon which it depends, scientists find themselves in a race against time, with both tropical ecosystems being destroyed and ancient wisdom about the plants and their environment rapidly being lost. Find out how a team of scientists and local people are working together to help document plant based health traditions before it is lost as elders pass away and younger people do not learn these skills, as well as conserve important habitats for future generations.

In the Pacific Islands known as Micronesia, Dr. Balick is working with an interdisciplinary team to inventory the vegetation of Pohnpei, Kosrae and Palau Islands and their surrounding atolls and document the traditional uses of plants. This project involves the participation of local ethnobotanists and elders knowledgeable in traditional ways. Dr. Balick will discuss the methodology of tropical plant exploration, as well as introduce some of the traditional healers that he and his colleagues have worked over the years. Traditional knowledge can be of great value in addressing contemporary issues in public health and conservation.

Wild Medicine Film Screening

May 18 - June 7
Weekends and Monday Holidays, 11:30 a.m., 12, 2, & 4 p.m. Ross Hall
*Exceptions occur on May 18, June 1, 9, 16, and September 7
Weekdays, Ross Hall, 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.
June 8 - September 8
Ongoing on Weekdays and Weekends, Orchid Rotunda

This 15-minute introductory film narrated by Sigourney Weaver helps set the tone for your visit, celebrating the beauty of the real Garden of Padua while highlighting the importance of healing plants and the work of Garden scientists.

Tour Wild Medicine in the Haupt Conservatory

Weekends & Monday holidays, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Weekdays, 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Guides throughout the exhibition help bring the stories of Wild Medicine to life and guide your experience. Learn about featured medicinal plants and their cultural significance, the origin of medicinal gardens, and more.

Family Adventures

Naturally Curious
Weekdays, 1:30 - 5:30 p.m.; Weekends plus Holiday Mondays, 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
In the Everett Children's Adventure Garden, adventure abounds for kids of all ages with art and science activities such as mixing paints and creating science notebooks. Kids will discover their inner scientists and ask questions about the world. Each child will practice problem-solving skills before setting off on an adventure to find medicinal plants. In the tradition of the Renaissance, students will also use an album amicorum, or "book of memories," to record any plant observations or descriptions that they make during their visit.

Commedia Dell' Arte for Children
Memorial Day Weekend: May 25 - 27; Independence Day Weekend: July 4 - 7;
Labor Day Weekend: August 31 - September 2 from 12 - 4 p.m.

Families can experience life in the Renaissance through these fun and festive commedia dell'arte performances, presented by The New York Baroque Dance Company. Arlequino, Mezzetino and a court Lady and Cavalier will delight the audience with musical pantomime. The dancers will speak briefly about the commedia style and the musician will talk about Renaissance instruments. Children can learn a Renaissance branle, very popular in its day, known as "The Washerwoman."

Music & Dance of the Italian Renaissance

Saturdays and Sundays, 1 & 3 p.m., in the Ross Hall
*Exceptions occur on May 18, June 16, & September 7 - performances at 3 p.m. only; performance location will vary on June 1 and 9; select performances to include poetry readings

Enjoy a rich repertoire of the music and dance of the Italian Renaissance period as presented by members of Early Music New York-Frederick Renz, Director with members of the New York Historical Dance Company. Performers wear costumes and play historical instruments to reproduce the sights and sounds of this period. Learn about the music and instruments compared to their modern counterparts. On select performance days, immerse yourself in the arts as acclaimed poets read translations of 16th-century romantic and botanically inspired works, arranged in collaboration with the Poetry Society of America.

Poetry of the Italian Renaissance

Select Saturdays in the Ross Hall

Poetry comes to life during these dramatic readings, presented in conjunction with the Music & Dance of the Italian Renaissance performances. Immerse yourself in the arts as acclaimed poets read translations of 16th-century romantic and botanically inspired works, arranged in collaboration with the Poetry Society of America.

  • June 22: 1 p.m. with Alfred Corn, & 3 p.m. with Elizabeth Alexander, presidential inaugural poet
  • July 27: 1 p.m. - poet Terese Svoboda & 3 p.m. with Rafael Campo, physician-poet and author of The Healing Art, A Doctor's Black Bag of Poetry
  • September 7: 3 p.m. only with Linda Gregerson, Renaissance scholar, author of The Woman Who and classically trained actor

Feeling inspired? Contribute your own poetry about nature to the Garden Anthology

Home Gardening Demonstrations

2 p.m.

Throughout the summer, select weekend demonstrations will offer gardening instruction on topics that touch on the exhibition's themes. For other weekend themes, click here.

Herbal Healing Gardens
May 18 & 19 in the Perennial Garden
June 29 & 30 in the Home Gardening Center

Gardens are sanctuaries. They not only provide us with a retreat from the world but they also supply us with many soothing remedies. Join Gardener for Public Education, Sonia Uyterhoeven, as she discusses how to design your own little haven and how to grow healing herbs and fragrant plants that will calm your tired nerves.

Herbal Delights
July 6 & 7 in the Home Gardening Center
There are versatile arrays of herbs that you can grow in your garden to spice up your life. Join Gardener for Public Education, Sonia Uyterhoeven, as she explores how these tantalizing herbs can be used to make herbal butters, pesto, tasty vinegars, and soothing teas.

Herbal Vinegars & Teas
August 31, September 1 & 2 in the Perennial Garden
There are versatile arrays of herbs that you can grow in your garden to add flavor to your flair. Join Gardener for Public Education, Sonia Uyterhoeven, as she explores how herbs can be used to make tasty vinegars and soothing teas.

Annual Science Open House

Behind-the-Scenes Tours
Saturday, June 1 & Sunday, June 2
William and Lynda Steere Herbarium
Self-guided tours begin at 11 a.m.; last entry at 2 p.m.
Meet at the Ross Gallery
Pfizer Plant Research Laboratory
Guided tours at 11, 11:30 a.m., 12, 12:30, 1, 1:30, 2, 2:30, 3 p.m. (space is limited; first-come, first-served)
Meet at the Pfizer Lab entrance

Tour the William and Lynda Steere Herbarium, the largest herbarium in the Western Hemisphere, and speak with the professional staff who curate, study, and care for the priceless biological heritage it contains. See a sampling of the 7.3 million herbarium specimens, dating from the 18th century to the present, which document fungal and plant diversity from all over Earth. Tour the world-renowned Pfizer Plant Research Laboratory, home of the Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Program for Molecular Systematics, and discuss with Garden scientists their roles in discovering and understanding the diversity of plants we see around us, including some with application for human health. Laboratory research - along with DNA collections, liquid-preserved collections, and other materials - allow for the study of plants at their most essential levels.

Healing Through Plant Medicines and Foods: What We Can Learn from Different Cultures
Saturday, June 1, 1 p.m.

Dr. Ina Vandebroek, Ethnomedical Research Specialist at NYBG, will trace the importance of medicinal plants among indigenous peoples and immigrant communities from the Bolivian Amazon to New York City.

Cocktail Evenings & Summer Concerts

Limited tickets are left for today's Cocktail Evening and Summer Concert. Purchase your tickets now.

Thursdays, June 27, July 18, and August 15, 6 - 9 p.m.; concert 7 - 8 p.m.

Sip a botanically inspired cocktail and enjoy an evening viewing of Wild Medicine. Then enjoy a concert featuring festive music of Italian jazz and classics. Find out more about the musicians and the specialty cocktails here.

Adults: Non-Member $30/Member $20 (includes one complimentary specialty cocktail or non-alcoholic beverage for adults 21 and over) Advance tickets recommended.

Start the evening off with a champagne pre-party at Shop in the Garden each night from 5 to 6 p.m. Learn more at nybg.org/priceless.

Generous support for the Summer Concert Series is provided by Vivian and Edward Merrin.

Poetry Walk

Ongoing during regular Garden hours

Stroll the Jane Watson Irwin Perennial Garden and explore poems extolling the virtues of healing plants.
Co-presented with the Poetry Society of America

Feeling inspired? Contribute your own poetry about nature to the Garden Anthology

International Garden Photographer of the Year Exhibit

In the Ross Gallery

May 18 - September 8

The New York Botanical Garden is the exclusive U.S. partner of this worldwide photographic competition that showcases the very best professional and amateur garden photographers from around the globe. This exclusive exhibit, Nature's Pharmacy, will feature the finest images embodying the themes of healing and wellness.

Exhibitions in the Arthur and Janet Ross Gallery are made possible by support from the Arthur and Janet Ross Fund.


Herbs: Historic Impact and Contemporary Uses
Wednesdays, August 7 & 14; 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Investigate the physical properties of herbs and their roles within traditional cultures, from their ceremonial uses to their practical applications as medicinals, aromatics, dyes, and detergents.
Non-Member $280/Member $252

Nature's Pharmacy
Saturday, September 21, 10 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Learn about plants historically used for first aid, asthma, insomnia, sinusitis, bronchitis, revitalizing the immune system, preventing colds and flu, and much more.

Non-Member $96/Member $86

Browse more classes and register at nybg.org/AdultEd


Public programming during Wild Medicine is made possible with support from the Leon Lowenstein Foundation, Inc., and the New York Council for the Humanities.