Centre for Biocultural Diversity

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Ethnobotanical Garden

Welcome to the Ethnobotanical Garden at the University of Kent. In 2007 the Centre for Biocultural Diversity received a small grant from the University’s Annual Fund to begin developing the space between the Marlowe Building and Giles Lane as a landscape containing useful plants on an East Kent-Japanese theme. The initial selection of species was made by James Wong (a former student) and Simon Platten (Leverhulme Fellow and Lecturer in Ethnobotany). The catalogue was prepared by Ivan Casselman (a former MSc student, and now a PhD candidate at Southern Cross University, Australia). At present, you will find the completed beds up against the wall at the rear of the Marlowe, which is maintained by the Estates Department. Most of the plants are labelled, but please browse our Specimen Identification Sheet for further information.

Examples of ethnobotanical plants featured in our garden:

Hemerocallis sp.

Vernacular Name: Lilly

Ethnobotanical Uses:

  • Leaves, young shoots and flower buds are eaten raw or cooked
  • Roots are eaten cooked
  • Juice of the roots are used as an antidote for arsenic poisoning
  • Roots are used as a folk medicine treatment for cancer
  • A tea made from boiled roots can be used as a diuretic

Ginkgo biloba

Venacular Name: Maidenhair Tree

Ethnobotanical Uses:

  • Confucius is said to have pondered and taught under a Ginkgo tree
  • Sap is a fire retardant
  • Seeds are roasted and served at important feasts
  • Seeds are consumed as a liver tonic
  • Leaves are used for respiratory problems

Lycium barbarum

Venacular Name: Goji berry

Ethnobotanical Uses:

  • Used to make wine and beer
  • Berries are used to treat inflamation and skin disease
  • Root bark acts against bacteria and fungus
  • Juice from berries is said to have anti-oxidant properties
  • Consumption of the berry may also have cardiovascular benifits