The Economic Botany Collection at Kew illustrates the extent of human use of plants around the world. The huge variety of objects ranges from artefacts made from plants, to raw plant materials, including a large collection of wood samples. Uses range from food, medicine and utensils, to social activities and clothing.
The collections build an important bridge between biological and cultural diversity, and are a valuable resource for the study of plant uses past,
present and future. They are managed by the Biodiversity Department of the Herbarium, Library, Art and Archives Directorate, in close collaboration with the Sustainable Uses Department of the Jodrell Laboratory.
Museum No. 1 indigo factory & collection cases
Sir William Hooker, the first official Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, opened the Museum of Economic Botany in 1847. While the majority of the objects were acquired during the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Collection continues to grow today and now holds over 85,000 specimens. These include present-day material as well as archaeological specimens and nineteenth century curiosities. Please explore some of our holdings.
The Plants+People exhibition in the renovated Museum No. 1 displays over 450 of these plant-based treasures.
Economic Botany Collection blog launched
Online now at the Kew Blogs page
Launch of the Economic Botany Collection database: all 85,000 specimens are online, with photos for 2000.
Exhibition and conference: Washi: The Art of Japanese Paper to be held at Norwich University of the Arts Gallery, 12 March - 20 April 2013 (Conference: Saturday 16 March 2013).
Details and booking
SYNTHESYS course on curation of ethnobiological collections 24-25 June 2013. Details and booking
Biocultural Collections - 11th Annual Meeting. Workshop on databases in ethno/economic botany Thursday 27 June 2013, 13.00-16.00.
For details contact Mark Nesbitt (m.nesbitt kew.org)
Revising the Economic Botany Data Collection Standard
This TDWG Data Standard was published in 1995, and has been widely adopted as a means of recording uses such as food, medicines and materials.
In this workshop participants will discuss proposed revisions that make the Standard easier to use, more consistent, and more comprehensive.
The draft revisions to the Standard will be circulated in advance to workshop participants. The workshop will also discuss the wider role of databases
and standards in ethno/economic botany, and bring participants up-to-date with Biocultural Collection group activities since we last met in Montpellier, 2012.
The workshop is free and open to all, but registration is essential.
If you are unable to attend the meeting but would like to comment on the Data Standard, please let us know and we will send you the draft revisions.
To register or for other queries, please email Mark Nesbitt (m.nesbitt kew.org)
Organisers: Frances Cook & Mark Nesbitt (Kew); Jan Salick (Missouri Botanical Garden)
Practical notes: The workshop will be held in the Herbarium – location details will be sent to registrants. A light lunch will be provided.
The timing allows participants who are going to the Society for Economic Botany (SEB) conference to join the SEB tours of Kew on Thursday morning
(11.00-13.00). SEB participants who wish to arrive in Plymouth on Thursday evening for Friday’s council meeting & excursions will have time to take a
late afternoon train from Kew Bridge (or to go back into London and take a direct train). For those not travelling to Plymouth that day,
there will be time to explore the Gardens after the workshop.
Websites: Original data standard
SEB Meeting 2013
Reading list on Kew, economic botany and empire. Kew, economic botany and empire (PDF).