Close up of palm leaf
kew.org > Blogs > Kew Science blog

Kew Science blog

Explore some of the research and activities of our global science and conservation programmes. Keep up to date with current developments in Kew science and science policy.
Elizabeth Blackwell, first woman to author a plant name in the Linnean system and author of A Curious Herbal.
30th March 2015

Mind the (gender) gap: Kew's records show fewer than 3% of land plant species published by women

A unique and complete dataset created and maintained by Kew scientists over the last 260 years, has revealed a striking difference in the number of new species of plants described by male and female botanists.

Author
Liriodendron tulipifera, an eastern North American representative of the magnoliid clade. (Photo: Wolf Eiserhardt)
23rd March 2015

What happens to the tree of life when climate changes?

Wolf Eiserhardt, Marie Curie Fellow at Kew, describes how past extinctions can be used to study the effect of climate change on the tree of life.

Author
Pressing specimens as part of the botanical inventory
9th March 2015

Resources for restoring Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest

The Bahian Atlantic forests are conservation hotspots. Eve Lucas describes how information gathered from botanical surveys and local knowledge provides an important resource to inform habitat restoration in the region.
Author
Photo shows a Welwitschia plant growing flat against the sandy ground
25th February 2015

Using evolutionary history to prioritise conservation

Using a recent example from Madagascar, Tim Harris describes how the evolutionary history of biodiverse areas can be taken into account when prioritising areas for conservation.
Author
Phalaenopsis amabilis (L.) Blume, painted by Marianne North.
10th February 2015

Discovering new orchids

André Schuiteman, research leader in Identification & Naming at Kew, describes how new orchid species are discovered and how we could speed up the process of discovery.
Author
MSB seed vault (Image: Wolfgang Stuppy)
20th January 2015

Evolutionary diversity in the Millennium Seed Bank

John Dickie, Head of Seed and Lab-based Collections at Kew, describes an approach to measuring and maximising the evolutionary diversity conserved in seed banks of wild species.
Author
Finn Michalak from Otari Native Botanic Garden collecting seeds of Aciphylla squarrosa in Titahi bay, New Zealand. (Photo: Peter Giovannini)
9th January 2015

Why and how are we saving seeds of Pacific island plants?

Kew has been developing an ambitious seed conservation programme in the Pacific region. Why should we direct our efforts to conserve native species of this region? Peter Giovannini explores some valuable reasons for investing resources in the conservation of Pacific floras and describes conservation activities to collect and store the seeds of the plant species of the Pacific region.
Author
Incense burners. Left: collected by Sir Douglas Forsyth’s mission to Yarkand, central Asia, 1871 (EBC 63412); right: From the Hadramut, Yemen, donated by the explorer Theodore Bent in 1895 (EBC 63411).
19th December 2014

Frankincense: resin with many stories

At a time of year when frankincense, myrrh and gold come to mind, Mark Nesbitt hunts for the scent of the Orient in Kew’s Economic Botany Collection.
Author
A picture showing the eBook Flora of West Tropical Africa on a mobile phone alongside an old volume of the Flora of the British West Indies
15th December 2014

Floras: In it for the long haul...

As Kew launches the world's first tropical regional Flora in ebook format, botanist Martin Cheek reflects on the hugely important and practically relevant information held within Floras and the future of Floras online.
Author
Picture of plant growing on steep cliff with the sea in the background
24th November 2014

A seed conservation network for islands of the Mediterranean Basin

An ambitious conservation project based in the Mediterranean Basin has come to the end of its first three-year phase. Sarah Hanson, from Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank, describes how seven conservation organisations have come together to protect the flora of this fragile region.
Author
17th November 2014

Crop wild relatives - creating guides for seed collectors

There is a pressing need for agriculture to adapt to climate change, and learning more about wild relatives of crop plants could help us achieve this. Laura Jennings describes how collecting guides produced by Kew help make seed-collecting fieldwork as productive as possible.
Author
A picture showing the white branching structure of the fungus entwined with brown roots
11th November 2014

Europe's forest fungi - diversity, distribution and fate

Fungi are responding to environmental change across Europe. Kew scientists Laura Martinez-Suz and Martin Bidartondo explain ambitious efforts to understand what is happening.
Author
Picture showing five men talking with an interviewer at the side of a dirt road. To the side, a botanical team are pressing specimens in plant presses
3rd November 2014

Africa's Great Green Wall - towards a sustainable future

To highlight UNESCO’s World Science Day for Peace and Development on November 10th, Serene Hargreaves from the Millennium Seed Bank describes how Kew is working with communities in sub-Saharan Africa to build a ‘Green Wall’ that will contribute to their sustainable future.
Author
Multiple developing flowers numbered with arrows showing the sequence of flower formation
24th October 2014

Abrus precatorius - a deadly beauty

Gerhard Prenner, researcher in plant morphology and anatomy, presents his recent studies on Abrus precatorius, a "deadly beauty" with fascinating flowers and inflorescences.
Author
A picture of white fungal fruiting bodies in dung
10th October 2014

Rare British fungi: genuinely uncommon or simply ignored?

Around 15,000 species of fungi have been reported from the UK, with over 2,000 recorded on only a single occasion. Does this mean that many fungi are genuinely rare and in need of conservation, or simply rarely recorded?
Author
Picture of red and yellow fruits and a white stem with white flowers
3rd October 2014

Discovering plant diversity – are we up to speed?

New plant species and even genera are discovered at a startling rate. Assistant Keeper of the Herbarium, Bill Baker, describes the discovery of three new palm genera and reflects on the need to accelerate the taxonomic process.
Author
Photo of horse chestnut leaves damaged by the leaf miner Cameraria ohridella
26th September 2014

Horse chestnut under attack

Why do some horse chestnut trees and related species of Aesculus differ in their resistance to attack by leaf miners? Research natural product chemist Tetsuo Kokubun explores a new approach to mine data mountains, to tease out needles from a field full of (chemical) haystacks.
Author
16th Flora of Thailand Conference logo
23rd September 2014

Documenting the plants of a tropical Asian country – the Flora of Thailand project

In September 2014 over 130 delegates gathered at Kew for the 16th Flora of Thailand Conference. Dave Simpson describes this ambitious project and Kew’s role over the five decades since it began.
Author
Photo of rubber shoes made from the latex of Hevea brasiliensis
12th September 2014

Curating Biocultural Collections: a manual for the 21st century

Biocultural collections are a vital tool for research into human uses of the plant and animal worlds – the field known as ethnobiology. Mark Nesbitt, Curator of Kew’s own Economic Botany Collection, tells us about a major new Kew publication on the uses and care of such collections.
Author
Photo of Cypripedium tibeticum
5th September 2014

Slipper orchids are closer to the edge than we thought

Recently-released IUCN Red List assessments for slipper orchids from the temperate Northern Hemisphere show that a shocking 79% of species are threatened with extinction. Mike Fay, Head of Genetics and Chair of the IUCN Orchid Specialist Group, describes Kew’s Red Listing of these iconic plants and what is being done to save them.
Author

Pages