Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Jim Brewster

Jim Brewster BSc MPhil, MIHort
8 April 1944 – 24 October 2015

Dr Brewster worked as a research scientist at the National Vegetable Research Station (NVRS) at Wellesbourne, Warwickshire from 1974 to 1990. He was a world expert on onions and was the author of the highly-regarded book 'Onions and Other Vegetable Alliums’.

Jim was born in Bradford on 8th April 1944 . His interest in plant science began whilst he was at school, and at the age of 14 he started growing vegetables as a hobby. After a BSc (Hons) in Agricultural Science (Crop Science) at the University of London he moved to St John’s College, Oxford in 1966 and was awarded a DPhil in 1971. He then undertook post-doctoral research in the Department of Agricultural Sciences at Oxford before moving in 1974 to the National Vegetable Research Station at Wellesbourne, Warwickshire as a plant physiologist. Jim was promoted to Principal Scientific Officer in 1983 before retiring in 1990.

Jim’s ‘pièce de résistance’ was his book ‘Onions and Other Vegetable Alliums’, first published in 1994 with an updated second edition in 2008. This book is still the standard reference work for many people. Through his research and his interactions with academics, students and those working in the industry Jim had a considerable impact on crop and plant science.

His publications were influential and earned Jim a significant international reputation within the Allium research community. Jim Brewster generously left a bequest of £769,000 to the School of Life Sciences to support Crop Science.


The Brewster Scholarship is awarded to a School of Life Sciences PhD student in their second year of research whose work relates to crop improvement.

2023: Laura Civolani

2022: Sophie Jin

2021: Huidong Liu 

2020: Scarlet Hao 

2019: Jess Watts 

2018: Nick Kuht 

Jim Brewster

Jim Brewster

Onions and Other Vegetable Alliums

‘Onions and Other Vegetable
Alliums’ first published in 1994 (updated second edition in 2008)