School of Anthropology & Conservation

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Ethnobotany Lecture

The Annual Ethnobotany Lecture was founded in 2000 and is a highlight of the academic year for the postgraduate programme. It is sponsored jointly by the Centre for Biocultural Diversity at Kent and the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. The lectureship is awarded to ethnobotanists who have made a significant impact on the subject, and who have established a reputation in the public understanding of science. Recent lecturers have included Gary Martin, Victoria Reyes-Garcia, Will McClatchey and Nancy Turner.

This year's lecture

Gathering medicinal plantsOn Tuesday 20th October, Dr Caroline Weckerle from the Department of Systematic Botany, University of Zürich, presented the 2015 lecture on Why ritual and incense plants are important. It was held at Jodrell Lecture Theatre, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

'The use of incense and ritual plants play an important role in many cultures of the world, both for medicinal and ritual or religious purposes. However, these plants and their uses tend to be neglected in ethnobotanical studies. We presented examples mainly from Tibetan areas and discussed why research on this plant group is important.' 


Dr Caroline WeckerleDr Weckerle completed her PhD in Ethnobotany at the Department of Systematic Botany at the University of Zürich in 2003, and then spent two years as a postdoc at the Kunming Institute of Botany in Yunnan. Her research interests cover the ethnobotany of the Shuiluo Valley, Southwest China; non-timber forest products and related conservation issues in Southwest China; the continuum between ritual and medicinal plant use, and traditional and contemporary use of (medical) plants in Switzerland.  She is a principle investigator in the MEDPLANT International Training Network, of which Kent is an affiliate partner, and supervising a Kent Ethnobotany alumna Meadhbh Costigan, who is studying the phytochemistry and phylogeny of incense plants among Tibetans in Nepal.

Previous Lectures

  • 2014
    Evolutionary Ecology as a Driver of New Questions in Ethnobotany
    Doyle B. McKey
  • 2013
    The Ethnobiology of Crop Domestication and Evolution: Fostering resilience of social ecological systems in the Anthropocene
    Pablo B. Eyzaguirre, Senior Scientist, Bioversity International
  • 2012
    Medicinal plant trade, conservation and local livelihoods in southern Morocco
    Gary Martin
  • 2011
    Ethnobotany of the Home and Hearth
    Will McClatchey
  • 2010
    The dynamics of ethnobotanical knowledge in a globalized world: examples from the Tsimane indigenous people (Bolivian Amazon)
    Victoria Reyes-García
  • 2009
    Bringing the food back home indigenous foodways, nutrition and biodiversity indigenous foodways, nutrition and biodiversity in western Canada.
    Nancy Turner
  • 2008
    Austrian alpine ethnobotany: examples and trends for the use and management of plant species in the Austrian Alps
    Christian Vögl
  • 2007
    Local perceptions and forest policy: conservation and logging in Papua New Guinea
    Paul Sillitoe
  • 2006
    Taking stock of nature? Ethnobotany and action in participatory ecological governance
    Anna Lawrence
  • 2005
    Ancient trees and what people do to them
    Oliver Rackham
  • 2004
    Gender bias in ethnobotany: propositions and evidence of a distorted science, and promises of a brighter future
    Patricia Howard
  • 2003
    The origins and spread of agriculture: a comparative world view.
    David Harris
  • 2002
    Globalization of traditional knowledge systems: implications for innovation, flow and appropriation of knowledge
    Miguel Alexiades
  • 2001
    Plants and people in Amazonian Peru
    Oliver Philipps
  • 2000
    The light at the edge of the world: vanishing cultures, enduring lives; an ethnobotanist’s view
    Wade Davis


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Last Updated: 27/10/2015