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SLBI Speaker Series: Why does a sheep eat ivy?

Tuesday, 28th November 2023, 19:00 - 20:00

SLBI Speaker Series: Why does a sheep eat ivy?
Image taken by Tim Green (Flickr)

After undertaking ethnobotanical studies in many countries, including Brazil, Sri Lanka and Scotland, William Milliken, currently based at Kew, turns his attention here to plants which are traditionally used to treat sick animals in Britain and Ireland. He will share some of his findings and hopes others will be able to contribute to his research.

We have been collecting traditional information on the use of plants and fungi to treat animals in Britain and Ireland (ethnoveterinary knowledge) through citizen science. In the past the practise was commonly used here, as it is throughout the world. However, traditional knowledge is now rapidly being lost from one generation to the next.

Part of the reason for researching this information (before it has gone forever) was because there are serious problems on farms. There is excess use of veterinary pharmaceuticals, resulting in the development of antibiotic and anthelmintic resistance, as well as increasing impacts more broadly on the environment (including insects and soil). Development of new biodegradable medicines for animals, including livestock and pets, could assist with addressing some of the negative environmental impacts.

I will present some of the outputs from citizen science from across Britain and Ireland. The process has not stopped, however, so if you have knowledge of how the plant is (or was) used to treat animals, it would be great to hear!


About Dr. William Milliken

William Milliken has over 30 years of experience in multi-disciplinary research and scientific leadership, and has worked at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew since 2004. His research has focused primarily on the interface between biodiversity, livelihoods, and ecosystem services, both overseas and in the UK.

You can read more about William’s research here:



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Tuesday, 28th November 2023
19:00 - 20:00

How to Book

The South London Botanical Institute
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3Space International House
6 Canterbury Crescent, Brixton
London,EnglandSW9 7QEUnited Kingdom
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