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Plants & fungi

Wakehurst yew hedges are used as an ingredient in chemotherapy drugs

Chinese plum yew
Fri, 2014-08-29 18:29

The sides of the Pleasaunce hedges at Wakehurst, Kew’s country garden in Ardingly, have proved invaluable to Limehurst who have been collecting yew hedge clippings around the UK since 1992. The firm, based at Hambrook near Chichester, extract taxol from the clippings - a constituent of a chemotherapy drug given to treat ovarian and breast cancers.

Evolution of Europe’s rarest orchid

Photo of Platanthera azorica
Mon, 2014-07-07 15:09

The IUCN Red List of endangered species currently recognises only one species of butterfly-orchid on the mid-Atlantic Azorean archipelago. However, a recent monographic study, published in PeerJ, unequivocally revealed the presence of three butterfly-orchid species on the islands, although it reinforced the idea of a single immigration event by airborne seed from mainland Europe.

Kew publishes world-leading book on Erythronium by Kew horticulturist

Photo of Chris Clennett
Tue, 2014-07-01 14:16

Seven years of research, sometimes in less than hospitable locations around the globe, lie behind Dr Chris Clennett’s new book - The Genus Erythronium: A Botanical Magazine Monograph. By day Chris works in the beautiful botanic gardens of Wakehurst Place at Ardingly, but to write the learned tome on Erythronium he had to climb remote mountain ranges in California and even follow in the path of grizzly bears.