Tackling the roots of plant blindness

Join the Teaching and Learning SIG as they bring together experts to discuss plant blindness, its implications and how to tackle it.

Close up image of fern

Plant blindness (the inability of people to recognise and identify even common plant species compared to a generally reasonable ability to recognise animals) is a major problem. Fewer university courses contain significant identification or taxonomy components, and university students (and the general public) show a clear lack of knowledge around plant identification. This becomes particularly concerning when we consider that many major global challenges, from food security to climate change, rely on plants for some component of their solutions.

This event by the Teaching & Learning SIG will bring together experts from a range of academic and industry areas to discuss plant blindness, its implications and how to tackle it. We will have a series of keynotes and lightning presentations and finish with a workshop. The workshop will focus on strategies to (1) tackle plant blindness; (2) improve the teaching of plant identification and better incorporate these skills into a wide array of degrees (e.g. general biology, ecology and physical geography degrees); and (3) consider if “plant blindness” is a problematic term and, if so, what could replace it. We will produce a short written piece for publication focusing on the issues and solutions identified during the meeting.

Keynote speakers

  • Dr Mark Fennell, Associate Director of AECOM and expert in invasive plant ecology and management
  • Dr Susannah Lydon, Assistant Professor in Plant Sciences, University of Nottingham
  • Dr Jonathan Mitchley, Associate Professor of Field Botany, University of Reading

Preliminary programme

10.00 – 10:15: Welcome
10.15 – 11.00: Keynote from Dr Jonathan Mitchley
11.00 – 11.20: Lightning session 1
11.20 – 11.30: Break
11.30 – 12.15: Keynote from Dr Susannah Lydon
12.15 – 12.35: Lightning session 2
12.35 – 12.45: Break
12.45 – 13.30: Keynote from Dr Mark Fennell
13.30 – 13.50: Breakout session
13.50 – 14.00: Closing remarks

Abstract Submission

We welcome delegates and abstracts from any aspect of plant blindness (teaching, research or industry focused). If you would like to give a 7-minute lightning talk, please submit the presenter name, presentation title, and abstract (150 words max) in one word document to Dr Karen Bacon or Dr Julie Peacock by 17:00 (GMT) Monday 1 March.


Registration is open until 17:00 (GMT) Monday 8 March 2021.

Register Now